NICS Background Checks up for January, New Format

Courtesy Dean Weingarten

U.S.A.-( January 2020 had the fourth-highest number of National Instant background Check System (NICS) background checks ever for a month, not just for January.

The number of total checks was 2,702,707. Only March of 2018 (2,767,699), December of 2016 (2,771,159), and December of 2019 (2,936,894) had more checks in a month, in over 20 years of NICS.

High numbers in December are to be expected. It is most commonly the month with the highest NICS checks in a year.

What is being seen is not an ever-expanding number of gun sales, but an ever-expanding number of NICS checks for other purposes, especially for carry permits and carry permit rechecks. Of the number of NICS checks for January 2020, 1,490,785, well over half, were for carry permits and permit rechecks.

Over 900,000 of those were re-checks for Illinois and Kentucky. Permit checks for those two states were 17,551 for Illinois and 2,341 for Kentucky.

The Illinois and Kentucky permit recheck numbers make comparisons of total NICS checks to gun sales unreasonable.

Fortunately, the FBI reports NICS Checks by state and type. Instead of looking at total NICS, the monthly report will now be on NICS for firearm sales.

Those sales are divided into four categories, so the categories will be shown in the charts. The four categories are Handguns, Long guns, Other, and Multi.

Handguns and Longguns are self-explanatory, although the categories are becoming increasingly irrelevant under the silly NFA regulatory regime.

Other are firearms which are neither considered a handgun or a long gun, primarily things like serially numbered receivers which can be made into either a handgun or a long gun.

Multi are 4473 forms with show multiple sales of firearms on one form. The most common number on such a report would be 2. The assumption, for overall numbers, is that the average is 2.5, as there will be some multiple sales of firearms for more than 2.

Checks for permits have always been included in NICS. For a significant period, they were about 100,000 per month. The first permit rechecks were shown on NICS for February of 2016.

The NICS checks for sales are a good indicator of sales, but not necessarily a good indicator of new gun sales. Many used guns are included. Additionally, 23 states substitute carry permits for additional NICS, as the background check for the permit is considered sufficient to purchase a firearm.

The number of gun sales NICS in January is very healthy, at 1,132,183. It is a 19% increase over the 950,011 NICS checks on firearm sales in January of last year.

It was almost certainly driven by purchaser concerns about their legal ability to obtain the firearms they desire, given the openness of Democrat candidates on the national stage and in Virginia to state they wish to ban very popular models, even though those models are seldom used in a crime.

Carry permits continue to increase. This likely contributes to the increasing share of handguns being purchased.

Because of the low costs of manufacture, and high levels of competition, prices of firearms continue at historically low levels. In constant dollars, which accounts for monetary inflation, firearms are less expensive than they have ever been.

About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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American Patriot

Some of those numbers can be attributed to the new universal background checks that went into effect on Jan 1st.