Maybe Americans aren’t taking to Hillary Clinton’s sour attitude toward guns. Maybe they’re arming themselves out of concern about terrorists and criminals of a more conventional stripe. And maybe they’re showing what they think of members of Congress who use terrorists’ crimes as the excuse to push for more gun control.
One way or the other, though, Americans are continuing to acquire guns at an unprecedented level. The FBI reported this week that in June 2016, firearm-related background checks set a new record for any month of June, up 39% from the number of checks conducted in June 2015.
For the first six months of 2016, checks are up 32 percent over the same period in 2015. If the present rate of checks holds through December, there will be over 32 million checks conducted this year, more than double the number conducted during President Obama’s first year in office. There have been 26.5 million checks during the last 12 months, more than in any 12-month period previously.
NICS checks don’t precisely indicate the number of firearms acquired in a given time frame. But the trend in checks makes clear that Americans are acquiring firearms at a record pace. The annual number of checks has risen from 12.7 million during the last year of President George W. Bush’s administration to an average of 23 million during Obama’s second term.
NICS checks don’t stop criminals from stealing guns or acquiring guns on the black market, and criminals defeat checks by having other people, who can pass checks, buy guns for them. But they continue to deliver data undermining gun control supporters’ perennial boast that gun ownership is declining. If anything, the data suggest that the opposite is true.