May saw yet another record-breaking month for background checks. May 2020 is officially the third-busiest month for the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) with 3,091,455 total checks run.
That is also the new record for the month of May, beating May 2019 by nearly three-quarters of a million checks. Every month so far this year has set the record for that specific month in the history of NICS checks.
The FBI NICS office has now processed 15,248,440 total background checks through the first five months of 2020. The previous record for the first five months of the year was 2016, which saw 11,698,006 total checks run from January through May. The current year bested that record by more than 3.5 million checks.
Needless to say, 2020 is on track to be a record-breaking year. The NICS office has already run nearly 54% of the checks it ran in total last year, and we haven’t reached the traditional hunting season, election-season, and holiday sales spikes.
The FBI NICS office processes checks related to sales and transfers but also those related to permits. There were 955,275 NICS checks related to the sale of handguns and 485,131 related to long guns, including semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. That pushes the year-to-date total for handguns to 4,695,474 and to 2,531,666 for long guns.
In terms of the yearly records for these categories, 2020 has already seen 58% of the record number of total handgun-related checks and 36% of the record number of checks related to the sale of long guns.
There are several factors that likely contribute to this spike in sales. Readers may have heard of the COVID-19 pandemic, the supply shortages, and the release of inmates across the country. Millions of people turned to their right to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their loved ones during that crisis. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearm industry trade group, reports that about 40% of gun sales in January through April were to first-time buyers.
We welcome these new gun owners to our community and encourage them to find an NRA training in their area. We also hope they recognize that there are anti-gun activists who want to rob them of their choice and their ability to defend themselves and their families. There has been anecdotal evidence of first-time buyers surprised by the burdens existing gun control places on their ability to purchase a firearm and ammunition.
We hope that these first-time buyers remember the unnecessary, intentionally complex, and redundant bureaucratic processes they faced during times of crisis when they cast their next ballot. Every gun buyer is more than just a tally in the NICS report. Gun owners should not excuse themselves from this fight because they already have their firearm. Your friends, neighbors, and future generations are depending on you to safeguard their rights.