Background Checks from Gun Sales Break Records for November 2020

Millions of law-abiding citizens submit to background checks, as intimated by the president's comment to reporters. (Dave Workman)
Do ‘universal background checks’ really work to reduce gun-related crime? (Dave Workman)

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- November of 2020 continued the trend of record-breaking gun sales and record-breaking National Instant background Check System (NICS) checks. The two are not the same. About half of background checks in recent years are done for other purposes, such as gun permits and gun permit rechecks. Permit and permit rechecks have slowed somewhat in relation to gun sales in 2020, probably due to some states’ deliberate slowing or stopping of gun permits because of the COVID 19 overreaction.

The number of checks done in November of 2020 was 3,626,335, according to the FBI NICS month and year tabulation.

The number of gun sales, according to the formula, handguns + long guns + other + 2.5x multiple sales = total gun sales, was 1,920,155. The number is an approximation. Not all gun sales require NICS checks, and the multiple numbers is uncertain because a single NICS check is done for multiple firearms on one form.

The previous record of firearm sales for November was in 2016, with about 1.623 million sales.

The number of sales in November 2019 was about 1.30 million in sales. Sales for November of 2020 are 1.47 times those in November of 2019. The trend in 2020, has been about 1.7 times sales in 2019.

Graphic courtesy Dean Weingarten and David Scott

This brings the total sales for 2020 to about 18.76 million in 2020, so far.

The total number of sales for 2020 is almost certain to be more than 20 million firearms, an all-time record for a year, increasing the private stock of firearms in the United States by about 4% when the gun sales for 2020 are included.

According to my calculations, using the methods pioneered by Newton and Zimring, and extended by Gary Kleck in “Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America” by Gary Kleck, Table 2.1., the number of privately owned firearms is now a fraction short of 460 million in the United States.

More definitive numbers will come out in about a year, as the ATF publishes manufacturing, import, and export data. NICS numbers are a proxy for those. They are not exactly the same. There is probably less than a million firearms difference.

The current political unrest, combined with the Christmas shopping season, is likely to continue the firearms and ammunition buying frenzy.

Most manufacturers are producing firearms as fast as they can to meet the demand in the American market. Ammunition supplies are being purchased as fast as they reach retailer shelves. A major supplier, Vista Outdoor, has a backorder time of over a year for ammunition.

The number of firearm sales in the United States appears limited by manufacturing capacity, as demand outstrips supply.

The United States has been an island of tranquility on a troubled planet for over 70 years. Major military battles have not been fought on the lower 48 states since the Civil war. Even during World War Two (WWII), there was very little fighting on American soil. Almost all of the fighting was limited to overseas territories. Both Alaska and Hawaii were territories during WWII.

Australia suffered hundreds of bombing raids during the war. India lost over a million people to famine. Europe was ravaged by the war, China devastated, Japan conquered, Africa mired in conflicts.

No one knows what the United States may experience in the next decade. The uncertainty is one of the things driving firearm and ammunition sales.


About 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.

Dean Weingarten

24 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
MarkE
MarkE
10 months ago

Yet the left continues to view this ownership as the disease itself rather than the symptom of the actual disease. The ownership isn’t the problem – what drives the need for it is. The left demands that jails be emptied, prisons closed, rioters defended while police defunded, felons embraced as victims while victims are castigated as complicit, and, in sum, the country accept a society that resembles a Mad Max movie set in order to achieve their version of social justice. And the outcomes of the Georgia Senate elections, while absolutely critical, are just the beginning – in 2022, 34… Read more »

JSNMGC
JSNMGC
10 months ago
Reply to  MarkE

Tens of millions of people who own firearms voted for Biden. Those same people voted or Obama. Firearm ownership is not their number 1 issue when it comes to politics.

Of course there were tens of millions of people who voted for Biden and Obama who think firearms are the problem (as you stated).

People who vote Democrat are not a monolithic block. The same thing for Republicans. There are a large number of people who despise firearms who voted for Trump. Trump is not too keen on them himself.

MarkE
MarkE
10 months ago
Reply to  JSNMGC

I’m not sure what your point is – what is the reason that your Democrat/Biden supporters have suddenly become new gun owners? Is it that they suddenly discovered $600 in disposable income and, solely on baseless impulse, decided to splurge it on a handgun rather use it to cover daily living expenses or add to their retirement savings? That is my point – these purchases are being driven by the rhetoric and the mob-like actions sanctioned by the “left”. I didn’t mention Biden in my post, but my contention that the “left” constitutes the source of these anti-gun attitudes isn’t… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by MarkE
JSNMGC
JSNMGC
10 months ago
Reply to  MarkE

“My” Democratic/Biden supporters? You got the wrong person. They didn’t suddenly start buying guns – “they” have owned firearms all along. By “they,” I mean people who typically vote Democrat. You used the term “left” – I don’t view politics in terms of “left” and “right.” It seems probable that a fairly significant percentage of the people who bought firearms for the first time in 2020 typically vote Democrat. However, that would be a minority of the total population of people who both vote Democrat and who own firearms (since tens of millions of people both own firearms and typically… Read more »

MarkE
MarkE
10 months ago
Reply to  JSNMGC

I’ll respond to this one final time. This Ammoland article is about record background checks and the spike in recent purchases (November 2020), not about the historical numbers, averages, or political bent of past (or even present) purchasers – and nothing you have posted has refuted any of my initial contentions concerning the content of this article. My point, again, is that this recent spike in purchases is fueled by the rhetoric coming from the “left” – and this comprises a lot more of the Democrat base than socialists or Marists. Does anyone need to recount the numerous comments from… Read more »

JSNMGC
JSNMGC
10 months ago
Reply to  MarkE

MarkE, I’m not arguing with you. Your original post sounded like you were making the point that the left doesn’t like firearms yet they are buying them – that they are hypocrites. I was just pointing out that they always have had them. I wasn’t objecting to your post. There are a lot of firearm owners who vote Republican who believe that the vast majority (say, over 85%) of firearms are owned by “conservatives.” I was just pointing out that is not the case. I apologize for the confusion. To answer your question, I believe the majority of the spike… Read more »

Bones
Bones
10 months ago

Also in some states like KY if you have your CCDW (Concealed Carry Deadly Weapons) license you dont have to go through the check as they check you monthly here anyways.

Stag
Stag
10 months ago

That’s some record breaking infringement.

Green Mtn. Boy
Green Mtn. Boy
10 months ago

“Do ‘universal background checks’ really work to reduce gun-related crime?” 

The question is irrevent as UBC is un Constitutional as are all gun control laws.

Tionico
Tionico
10 months ago

I have wondered if, because new production is lagging behind, a signficant portion of sales are of used guns.. folks “thinning the herd” at home, lightening up to make mobility easier, or just generating cash in these crazy times, foisted upon us by they who hate us. Each used gun sale through an FFL is another NICS call. Any chance used ones are logged to distinguish? Not that I know of, though I seem to remember a tickbox on the4473 for NEW/USED

Bones
Bones
10 months ago
Reply to  Tionico

From what i understand this covers any purchase as they all go through the system.

PMinFl
PMinFl
10 months ago

Not much left in the stores unless you have a billionaire backer paying the freight.

Whatzit
Whatzit
10 months ago

Something creepy occurred to me the other day – who, exactly is buying all of these guns? We assume that a lot of new, first-timers are buying them. What if the left – antifa, blm, etc is who is buying them? Not sure there is a way to know, but all those new guns might not be going to America-loving patriots, but to the enemies of our republic. I dunno…

JSNMGC
JSNMGC
10 months ago
Reply to  Whatzit

Some are first-time buyers who are Antifa, BLM, and other people who want to fundamentally change America into something that will be horrible.

Assuming “conservatives” have all the firearms has always been naive.

JSNMGC
JSNMGC
10 months ago
Reply to  JSNMGC

I use different terms, but yes.

It would be naive for old-fashioned Democrats (who think the Democrat party is for the “working man”) to believe that Communists/Marxists will not eventually use firearms (directly or by proxy through government employees they control) against them.

PMinFl
PMinFl
10 months ago
Reply to  Whatzit

I’ve been saying this for six months.

Tionico
Tionico
10 months ago
Reply to  Whatzit

This is likely an issue. but some of what I’ve read seems to indicate that Auntie Fa have been procuring a fair number of firearms from unconventional sources.. direct import, likely illegal, I say this partly because some “situatioins” have shown some of their members to be toting signficant nubmers of identical arms, I’ve seen mentioin of what appeared to be full-auto fire in sone situations. I have seen where the John Brown Gun Club have been acting as their chief armourer, provinding guns and training. Stories of wilderness enclaves where what seem to be camps of significant size are… Read more »

Oldman
Oldman
10 months ago
Reply to  Tionico

So is this where all the ammo is going, too?

Bones
Bones
10 months ago
Reply to  Whatzit

Those groups are only buying the dildos & bongs LOL

Core
Core
10 months ago

I agree Patriot Solutions. A permit to carry guns is in fact infringing upon rights: they charge the individual with a crime (unlawfully) and then they make them a criminal (unlawfully) and they have to sign their rights away. A wholly unconstitutional cycle of abuses of powers. I would appreciate any information you have on the Chinese “…military is only feet across the border.”… Thanks.

Ryben Flynn
Ryben Flynn
10 months ago

Really strange. There is an empty building here in Loris, South Carolina that has “SAC” on the building. It turns out that was Southern Ammunition Company and it is “For Lease” since my Wife (RIP) and I moved here in 2011. Every so often there seems to be some interest in the building as several vehicles are in the parking lot. Other times just a single vehicle during the week, possibly a security person. Now would be good time to reopen the place. I do not know if there is any of the original ammunition equipment still there. They still… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by Ryben Flynn
JSNMGC
JSNMGC
10 months ago
Reply to  Ryben Flynn

Now would be a tough time to start an ammunition assembly company. You would not be able to obtain primers.

Tionico
Tionico
10 months ago
Reply to  JSNMGC

make them

JSNMGC
JSNMGC
10 months ago
Reply to  Tionico

Exactly – all you need is tens of millions of dollars, a staff of engineers, and various other functional area experts, and navigate the myriad of government regulations. By the time you get up and running (I can only imagine what the lead time is right now on equipment used to make primers), maybe the demand for ammo will still be strong. If you are successful at making the primers, maybe the supply of powder, casings, and bullets will be good. If you are successful at producing primers and loaded ammunition, you will give a good chunk of the profits… Read more »