In January, the FBI reported that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) performed a record number of background checks in 2011. Over 99 percent of NICS checks are firearm-related.
NICS became operational in November 1998, replacing the Brady Act’s waiting period on dealer sales of handguns, imposed in 1993. The anti-gun Brady Campaign, then known as Handgun Control, Inc., strongly objected to Congress’ adoption of the NICS amendment to the so-called Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, otherwise known as the Brady bill, in 1993. Curiously, however, today the Brady Campaign praises NICS for conducting what the group hypocritically refers to as “Brady checks,” in the hope of convincing Congress to require such checks on all private transfers of firearms.
Gun control advocates might want to rethink the strategy, however. The FBI’s annual NICS reports show that gun sales are steadily rising, undermining anti-gun activists’ periodic boast that gun ownership is declining.
After averaging almost nine million checks annually through 1995, NICS checks rose to 10 million in 1996 and climbed steadily to 14.4 million in 2010. Between 2010 and 2011, NICS checks rose 14 percent to 16.4 million, their greatest annual increase since the program’s inception. If the monthly checks that Kentucky conducts on carry permit holders are excluded from the tally, NICS checks rose approximately 18 percent to approximately 14 million in 2011.
Clearly, Americans are voting with their wallets to buy firearms; we hope they'll cast their real ballots this fall to keep those guns.