The number of firearm-related queries to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in November 2016 set new records despite predictions that Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton would diminish gun buyer demand.
The 2,561,281 NICS checks for firearms last month was the busiest November and fourth busiest month in the history of the NICS system. It also marked the 19th consecutive month that monthly checks were higher than that month in previous years.
The record-setting numbers defied predictions that Trump’s victory and reduced fears of new firearm restrictions would soften firearm sales. The FBI predicted Black Friday NICS checks would drop to 180,500 – a decrease of more than 5,000 over last year. The NICS system instead set a new one-day record of 185,713 requests on Black Friday, narrowly edging out last year’s Black Friday record of 185,345 checks.
While NICS data doesn’t precisely measure firearm sales in a given time period because checks are made for carry licenses and other reasons, it is the best available indicator of consumer demand. Indeed, sales may even be higher, since gun buyers in twenty-five states can use their carry licenses or purchase permits in lieu of a NICS background check when purchasing a firearm.
Like many issues during the 2016 Election, the so-called experts were wrong in their prediction that a Trump victory would decrease firearm sales. The facts demonstrate once again how badly they underestimated gun owners.