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NICS Numbers Are Still Sky-High, But Declining

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NICS numbers once again declined year-over-year for the month of April. [FBI]

The American firearm industry is still going great guns, with more than one million National Instant Background Check System (NICS) applications for firearms in the month of April of 2024. However, that is a notable decline from the NICS numbers from April of 2023.

The National Instant Background Check System is used by the FBI to monitor firearms sales and other transactions, including concealed carry permits. The National Shooting Sports Foundation has an adjustment formula that converts these numbers to more accurately reflect actual firearm sales

The NICS numbers for firearms sales in April 2024, are 1,442,061 guns sold when running the figures through the NSSF’s adjustment formula.

This makes last month the fifth-highest gun sales for April since NICS reporting started. It is the 57th straight month of U.S. firearms sales above one million, according to the NSSF’s adjustment formula.

NICS Numbers Are Still Sky-High, But Declining


However, April of 2024 also follows a similar trajectory as other recent months, with a year-over-year decline from the NICS numbers of 2023. In this case, April of 2023 saw 1,369,296 NICS queries when adjusted by the NSSF’s formula. That’s a difference of 200,000, or roughly 11.2 percent.

Is that notable news? A million NICS queries is still a very high number, historically speaking, and the NSSF will tell you that the NICS numbers are not 100 percent reliable of what’s going on at the gun counter. Multiple guns can be sold per NICS inquiry, or no guns at all. Also, twenty-four states allow an alternative permit to be used when purchasing firearms. Thousands of firearms could be sold outside the NICS system—but still, it is better than having no guesstimate at all.

According to the NSSF’s numbers, handguns comprise more than 50 percent of NICS inquiry sales, with about 40 percent of sales being long-barrelled rifles or shotguns. Based on the NICS numbers, Americans appear to be more concerned with self-protection than they are with hunting or clay shooting.

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