Gun Sales Continue to Increase
24 Percent Jump in December Amid Gun-Owner Concerns
NEWTOWN, Conn. — Despite a weak economy, gun sales are continuing to increase amid concerns that incoming lawmakers will institute a new gun ban on law-abiding Americans. Data derived from the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) show a 24 percent increase in firearm purchaser background checks for the month of December 2008 (1,523,426 checks) over December 2007 (1,230,525 checks). This increase follows a 42 percent rise in NICS checks for the preceding month, the highest number of checks in NICS history. FBI background checks are required under federal law for all individuals purchasing firearms from federally licensed retailers. These checks serve as a strong indicator of actual sales.
A recent poll of hunters and target shooters by Southwick Associates Inc., in which 80 percent of respondents said they expect it will become more difficult to purchase firearms under the incoming administration and congress, explains the increase in sales.
“Sales of firearms, in particular handguns and semi-automatic hunting and target rifles, are fast outpacing inventory,” said NSSF President and CEO Stephen L. Sanetti. “It's clear that many people are concerned about possible gun bans under the incoming Congress and are reacting accordingly.”
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the large increase in demand for firearms has led to a shortage of Form 4473s — the Firearms Transaction Record which must be filled out any time a person buys a firearm from a licensed retailer. As a temporary measure, ATF is allowing FFLs to photocopy the form 4473 in its entirety until they receive their orders from the ATF Distribution Center. NSSF has reminded retailers of the newly launched Electronic Form 4473 which is free and downloadable from the ATF Web site.
Final year-end NICS data reveals a total of 12,709,023 background checks reported in 2008, up 14 percent from 2007.
For more information on gun sale statistics, legislative issues and general firearm related questions, please visit the NSSF Web site at www.nssf.org — the media's resource for all things about the firearms and ammunition industry.