The latest data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the number of firearm-related checks initiated through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) indicates that September 2016 set a new record, being the highest for any September since the NICS was instituted in 1998. This follows record-high figures throughout 2016: NICS data show that for the first six months of 2016, checks were up an amazing 32 percent over the same period in 2015. Moreover, firearm sales are likely to surge for the rest of 2016 in the months leading up to the holidays – the highest month on record for gun-related checks is December 2015, and the top three days of the highest number of NICS checks include Black Fridays in 2014 and 2015. It’s a safe bet that 2016 will be a banner year for firearm acquisitions.
Although NICS checks data don’t correlate exactly with the number of firearms acquired in a given timeframe (there are other reasons why NICS checks may be performed), these checks are in most cases required before a firearm may be acquired from a licensed firearm dealer and are used to estimate gun sales until more reliable manufacturing and import data become available.
The release of these latest figures from the FBI confirms that there have now been 17 consecutive months where the total number of firearm-related checks for a month exceeded the figures recorded for the same month in the previous year, often by a large margin (for example, December 2015 exceeded the previous December by more than a million).
Yet, as gun sales trend upwards, there is no corresponding increase in violent crime rates, and the number of unintentional firearm-related fatalities continues to decrease, declining by more than 60 percent since 1993.
It’s no wonder, then, that a substantial percentage of the American public agrees that increased gun ownership is more likely to increase public safety than lead to more crime.