Attention Media: Gun Sales are NOT Collapsing in Illinois

U.S.A.-( Samuel Stebbins writes for 24/7 Wall St and several other left-leaning organizations such as the NYTs, HuffPost, and MSN.

Mr. Stebbins has written a number of articles involving guns, crime, and statistics. The numbers he cites are usually correct. They are from sources such as the FBI Uniform Crime Reports.

Unfortunately, it is easy to make errors if you do not understand how the numbers are generated. It appears to be the reason for the laughable numbers in Samuel’s most recent article claiming “Gun Sales are Collapsing in Illinois.”

 In Illinois, gun sales are falling even faster than they are nationwide. There were a total of 2,064,400 FBI firearm background checks in the state in the first half of 2022 compared to 6,050,704 in the first six months of 2021 — a 65.9% reduction and the largest decline among states.

Gun Sales are NOT Collapsing in Illinois

The problem with the above statement is background checks in Illinois are only partially connected to gun sales.

I tried to contact Samuel so I could explain the error to him and offer my services if he needs some professional firearms expertise in the future. Unfortunately, a few searches did not turn up an email or a phone number to contact him.

Samuel sights the National Instant background Check System check number, in the article, as a proxy for gun sales trends. There are problems with this.

The FBI carefully notes, when publishing the NIC figures:

“These statistics represent the background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold.” 

FBI Firearms NICS Disclaimer 2022
FBI Firearms NICS Disclaimer 2022

In most states, the ratio between gun sales and NICS numbers varies between about .5 and .7 gun sales for each NICS check.

Illinois is a special case, as is Kentucky. Both of those states use NICS checks prodigiously for purposes other than gun sales.

Both states run NICS checks over and over and over, month to month to month. The process is mostly automated and costs them very little.

  • In 2019, in Illinois, there were over 4.95 million NICS checks and about 395,000 firearms sales, or a ratio of about .08 firearms sold per NICS check.
  • In 2020, in Illinois, there were about  8.47 million NICS checks and about 534,000 firearms sold, for a ratio of about .063 firearms sold per NICS check.

Looking at the first six months of 2021 and 2022, the gun sales in Illinois dropped from about 274,000 in the first six months of 2021 to 215,000 in the first six months of 2022, a 22 percent reduction.

In January of 2022, Illinois revised its procedures for running NICS Checks on the Firearms Owners Identification (FOID) card. NICS does not show any permit rechecks for Illinois in 2022.

The number of NICS Checks for permits and permit rechecks for the first six months of 2021 was about 5.79 million. For the first six months of 2022, it was 1.85 million, an enormous drop.

The drop occurred because of the change in Illinois firearms law.

The change in permit and permit rechecks explains 98 percent of the drop in NICS checks from the first six months of  2021 to the first six months of 2022 in Illinois.

Instead of a “collapse” in gun sales, the drop in gun sales for Illinois was in the middle of what most states experienced, at about 22 percent.

It is an easy mistake to make if you do not understand how the NICS numbers are generated.

Samuel, if you have questions, you can reach me at [email protected]

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’m sure being somewhat a public figure & not having a contact is purely accidental. There is a lot of that these days. It’s like trying to contact a Govt official in another State. Sorry you are not in this district so you can not leave a message. But feel free to leave a few dollars for their election campaign. lol


Anti’s tend to lie to make their case.


it is hard to use the truth when what you want is a lie

Wild Bill

Gun sales may not be dropping in the U.S. just yet, but there is a huge recession coming for us. Part is Chinese Biden. Part is what is the financial collapse in Europe.


they may go up as economy contracts , they have more like Portland to look forward to

Last edited 2 months ago by swmft

Thanks Dean!
It is always amazing to me how the media uses total NICS instead of adjusted NICS (or simply looking at Handgun or Long Gun NICS).
Illinois in particular goes through spurts of government over-reach with their permit “re-checks”.

Last edited 2 months ago by GaryRamey

Most of us only know Illinois as Chicago. But Illinois is a vast rural state another world away from Lee-Roy’s All Night Liquor Drive-Thru on south Wacker drive.


Figures lie and liars figure.


In Ky if you have a concealed carry license, there is no NICS check, and there are lots of concealed carry licenses in Ky.


Same in Kansas.


It’s waived in Texas too.


atf agents have been running all the ones that are exempt when they check on the ffl, they have been doing this for at least 10 years


That’s about the only reason I continue to keep my TX LTC current. Plus, it’s excellent ID to have. Since half the states now have CC, permission to exercise a constitutional right is no longer required anyway.


Mr. Weingarten, some do not take criticism well and maybe Mr. Stebbins is one such. I note that he writes for the Huff and Puff also.


Illinois doesn’t use NICS. They have their own state database. That same database is used for Universal Background Checks (UBC) There is a web portal where you enter the purchasers FOID Card # to see if they are eligible.


SGT, the tyrants in Illinois have their own way a screw over the 2A.

Pa John

I kind of figured – and commented on this several times in my local news media some time ago – that ALL firearm & ammo sales figures will now only be compared to PEAK gun sales during the 2020 and onward gun & ammo shortages, caused by the “mostly peaceful” riots and pandemic fear porn pressed upon us by criminally complicit media. This way they can deceptively report gun sales as being down even when they are still averaging substantially higher than previous to 2020 / covid-19 / etc. Shape and mold and manipulate their presentation of reality to suit… Read more »