December 2020 New Record for Background Checks, Gun Sales for Year

New York Signs 30-Waiting Period and Bans Bump Stocks Into Law
Florida Carry sues FDLE for more Violations of Gun Background Check Laws

U.S.A.-( 2020 is over. The year set records for every month and for total National Instant background Check System (NICS) background checks done in a year.

2020 almost certainly set a record for the number of new firearms owners.  New firearms owners are estimated at over 8 million, based on the NSSF figures of about 40% of firearms purchasers in 2020 have been new firearms owners. Precise records of new owners are not available, only estimates.

2020 firearms sales by type and month compared to 2019

In December, the number of NICS background checks was 3,937,066, an all-time record.  The number of firearms sold in December was about 1.90 million. It falls short of the number of firearms sold in December of 2015, which was about 2.22 million.

The total number of NICS background checks for 2020 was 39,695,315, about 40% greater than the record set in 2019. The number of firearms sold for all of 2020 was about 20.66 million, an all-time record. The number of firearms added to the private stock in 2019 was about 13.95 million. The highest previous record total was set in 2016, at 16.29 million.

The 2019 and 2016 numbers come from the final figures provided by the ATF. It will be about a year before the final production, sales, and import figures are released from the ATF for 2020.  They are expected to be close to the estimate calculated from the NICS checks.

NICS checks are done for things other than for firearm sales. For the last few years, checks for carry permits and carry permit rechecks have been more than those for firearm sales.

In 2020, that trend slowed and reversed, with gun sales taking a slightly larger percentage of the NICS checks.

Permit and permit rechecks took a smaller percentage of the total. A number of states restricted the issuance of permits during the Covid19 pandemic.

While the number of gun sales was large for December, they were not a record for December.  Demand for new firearms may have reached a temporary saturation. Some models are a little more available.

Some of the reduction of demand is because the production of ammunition is maxed out, yet demand has outstripped it. The shelves are mostly bare.

There is speculation fewer people are purchasing guns because ammunition is difficult to obtain and/or very expensive by historical standards.

The number of firearm sales has been driven by concern over increased controls and potential gun bans proposed by the Biden/Harris ticket. Those concerns will remain in place, given the almost certainty of a Biden presidency, after President Trump has stated he will transfer power peacefully on 20 January.

The total number of private firearms in the United States is now about 462 million, as calculated using the methods pioneered by Newton and Zimring, and extended by Gary Kleck in “Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America”.

The number is the cumulative addition of domestic manufacture plus imports minus exports.  It does not count guns shipped to the U.S. military.   The figures are rounded to the nearest million.

The number of people desiring guns and ammunition as a hedge against political uncertainty will remain high.

A Biden administration could reduce the demand by refusing to push for gun confiscation and gun registration. That seems unlikely.

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

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I have been reading about the number of gun sales this year passed with great amusement. How long have the “mostly peaceful” protests been going on nightly?? What if many or most of the gun sales are to antifa/blm members or to those who can obtain firearms FOR the rioters with police records? I personally expect that the buying surge isn’t just frightened housewives.


Can anyone tell me how

the number of NICS background checks was 3,937,066, an all-time record. The number of firearms sold in December was about 1.90 million.

Does something other than firearms need NICS?

Last edited 1 year ago by Vinko
Get Out

Yes, California ammo sales, request for a FOID card, CCW permits, all new gun sales, renewals of permits etc. I’m sure there are more out there.


You were posting while I was typing.


Yes, some of those things are: concealed carry lic, ammo purchases (in Cali), and just because a check was run that doesn’t mean a sale was made. Conversely a single check can be for a same time sale of more than one firearm. I am sure there are other reasons.


Why would all these people be buying guns especially for the first time when Joe and Kamaltoe as well as O’Dork are going to take them away starting next month?
Oh, it must be that you don’t plan on turning them in. That makes sense. What wasn’t I thinking.

The Crimson Pirate

Non compliance is always a big thing with new laws. There was very little compliance with the NY SAFE act and the Connecticut laws enacted around the same time. When WA state enacted no private transfers around 2014, not only did people not comply, but thousands showed up at the state capital and engaged in newly illegal private transfers right in front of state police.


I think the only way for us to beat them at this game when they are able to make new illegal laws like Kommiefornia does on a daily basis is exactly what you are saying. I will not comply. Sheer numbers can make their laws useless. The only problem is that you have to be willing to be a felon for following the constitution. Myself and others that served in the military, have clean driving records, never been in jail, never had any domestic disputes, have had a few traffic tickets and have the gestapo approved CCW in my state… Read more »