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NSSF: August Background Checks Highest on Record

Op/Ed from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

NSSF: August Background Checks Highest on Record

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August's adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System figures of nearly 1.7 million background checks associated with the sale of a firearm are in line with the months-long trend we’ve witnessed since March, when figures topped an all-time one-month record of 2.3 million. Each month since April, adjusted NICS figures averaged between 1.6 and 1.8 million.

August’s figures are a record high for the month over all previous years and show us that concerns for personal safety and self defense continue to remain a priority for law-abiding Americans.

The sustained pace of firearm sales proves that law-abiding Americans are turning out by the millions to exercise their God-given right to keep and bear arms. News reports of violent attacks, riots, looting are coupled with calls to defund police continue.

NSSF estimates that nearly 5 million of these firearm purchases were made by people who never previously owned a firearm. Americans are witnessing gun-control politicians refuse to enforce penalties on violent criminals, while at the same time actively working to deny those who obey the law the ability protect themselves. These sales figures are proof that Americans refuse to be compliant victims to violent criminals who prey on the most vulnerable of our society.


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The August 2020 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,684,083 is an increase of 51.2 percent compared to the August 2019 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,113,535. For comparison, the unadjusted August 2020 FBI NICS figure 3,085,227 reflects a 31.8-percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,341,363 in August 2019.


Note: 25 states currently have at least one qualified alternative permit, which under the Brady Act allows the permit-holder, who has undergone a background check to obtain the permit, to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer without a separate additional background check for that transfer.

The number of NICS checks in these states does not include these legal transfers based on qualifying permits, and NSSF does not adjust for these transfers. Michigan had law changes that affected their Brady Law standing, which removed qualifying alternate permits usage for firearm transactions. These changes went into effect March 3, 2020.NSSF-adjusted NICS for the state of Michigan in August 2020 were 219.5-percent higher than August 2019, which accounts for an additional 43.,237 checks over the same time period.

The adjusted NICS data were derived by subtracting out NICS purpose code permit checks and permit rechecks used by states for CCW permit application checks as well as checks on active CCW permit databases. NSSF started subtracting permit rechecks in February 2016.

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Though not a direct correlation to firearms sales, the NSSF-adjusted NICS data provide an additional picture of current market conditions. In addition to other purposes, NICS is used to check transactions for sales or transfers of new or used firearms.


It should be noted that these statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold or sales dollars. Based on varying state laws, local market conditions and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.

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#GUNVOTE 2020: Help Drive Voter Registration

NSSF is urging all industry businesses to download and display NSSF's #GUNVOTE® icon on their company websites and incorporate #GUNVOTE messages in their social media campaigns.


National Shooting Sports Foundation aims to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers nationwide.

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