Midsouth Shooters Supply has previously reported that Black Friday 2015 broke gun-sales records, and now totals for the year are in, and based on FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System background-check volume, more guns were sold in 2015 than in any previous year in American history. More than 23 million checks were processed through NICS in 2015 — that’s 2 million more than the previous record of 21 million NICS checks in 2013.
The FBI NICS total for 2015 was 23,141,970. In December 2015 alone, the FBI conducted 3,314,594 checks, an increase of more than half a million over the previous single-month record set in December 2012.
Also, the months of May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December in 2015 each set monthly sales records.
It should be noted that these statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold or sales dollars. Based on varying state laws, local market conditions and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.
Commenters on our blog have said that threats to gun rights by politicians and the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California drove gun and ammunition sales.
“A day has not gone by without a major media assault on gun rights or an Obama administration call for new additional restrictions on gun ownership,” said Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation to the Washington Free Beacon website. “Americans have voted with their dollars and bought record levels of guns and ammunition.”
Despite the record NICS numbers, 2015 may be only the second-best gun-sales year ever. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) publishes its own interpretation of raw NICS numbers. NSSF is the actual trade association for the firearms industry in this country, representation many people wrongly attribute to the NRA.
NSSF generates its own adjusted NICS data, which are derived by subtracting out NICS purpose-code permit checks used by several states such as Connecticut, Illinois, and Utah for CCW permit application checks as well as checks on active CCW permit databases.
Using NSSF’s adjustments, 2012 is still the all-time sales-record year, with 14.8 million checks, followed by 2015’s 14.2 million total.
On a monthly basis, the December 2015 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 2,235,560 is an increase of 37.6 percent compared to the December 2014 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,624,524.
For comparison, the unadjusted December 2015 FBI NICS figure of 3,308,199 reflects a 43.7 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,301,386 in December 2014.
If you helped set the record, will you tell us why? Great deals? Somebody had just what you were looking for? Might be your last chance to buy a gun in your state?