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We all welcome the recent news, sure to anger President Joe Biden, gun-ban politicians in Congress and anti-gun advocates. The latest sales figures show Americans continue to buy firearms at a greatly increased pace compared to gun purchases before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gun Sales Figures Continue to Soar

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), more guns have been sold so far this year than were sold the entire year of 2019—the last “normal” year before the Covid pandemic and social unrest sent purchases skyrocketing. The 13.7 million background checks for gun purchases so far in 2021 include 1.3 million in September, which was up 20,000 from August.

“Firearm sales typically rise during autumn months as hunters get back into the woods, fields and marshes for hunting season and gun buyers take advantage of new models and holiday sales,” said Mark Oliva, NSSF director of public affairs. “It must also be considered that Americans continue to buy firearms for personal protection. The recent FBI Uniform Crime Report indicated that violent crime rose, and Americans continue to buy firearms in response to concerns for their personal protection.”

The third quarter 2021 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 3,970,570 reflects a decrease of 23.1 percent compared to the 5,165,308 figure for third quarter 2020, making third quarter 2021 the second highest on record. In 2019, there were 9.2 million background checks through the end of September.

September Smashes 2019 Numbers

The September total of 1.3 million guns sold fell short of the all-time record of 1.6 million background checks conducted for new firearms purchases last September in the midst of the Covid chaos. But it easily surpassed the 1 million background checks conducted during September 2019.

Of course, those on the anti-gun side of the Second Amendment debate like to blame increased gun sales, including sales to some 13 million new gun owners in the past year and half, for the country’s current rise in violent crime. But the data says otherwise, according to researchers from the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California.

“Nationwide, firearm purchasing and firearm violence increased substantially during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic,” wrote the authors of the study, titled “Firearm purchasing and firearm violence during the coronavirus pandemic in the United States: A cross-sectional study”and published in the journal Injury Epidemiology. “At the state level, the magnitude of the increase in purchasing was not associated with the magnitude of the increase in firearm violence. Increases in purchasing may have contributed to additional firearm injuries from domestic violence in April and May. Results suggest much of the rise in firearm violence during our study period was attributable to other factors, indicating a need for additional research.”

Understanding the Numbers

Though not a direct correlation to firearms sales, the NSSF-adjusted NICS data provide an additional picture of current market conditions and the continued increase sales. In addition to other purposes, NICS checks transactions for sales or transfers of new or used firearms. 

It’s interesting to note that the totals don’t count the number of sales of firearms by non-dealers in the majority of states that still allow private purchases. Those numbers would undoubtedly increase the total by several million.

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