March Sees Record Gun Sales

Latest figures indicate eleven straight record-setting months

gun
Glock 42 / AP

Gun sales broke records yet again in the month of March.

The FBI performed 2,523,265 firearms-related background checks between March 1 and March 31, according to the agency's records. That's a new record for the month. It's nearly 35,000 more checks than the previous record set in March 2014.

Despite the new record, March saw the fewest checks of any month so far in 2016.

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The March record is the eleventh straight monthly record for background checks. The unprecedented streak, which began in May 2015, has included all-time records for both monthly and yearly sales. With 7,682,141 checks processed through the FBI's National Instant Background Check System, 2016 is currently on pace to set another all time yearly sales record.

FBI background checks are widely considered a reliable gauge for gun sales because all sales conducted through federally licensed firearms dealers must include one. Some states also require private sales between non-dealers to include a background check. However, many states do not.

Many states also require FBI background checks as a part of the process for obtaining a gun carry permit. The FBI does not consider background checks a perfect record for the exact number of guns sold each month. "Based on varying state laws and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale," the agency noted on their background check report.

The sustained gun sales records coincide with increasingly aggressive gun control rhetoric from many Democrats, including President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

President Obama has tried to enact new gun control through executive actions. The most consequential of those actions could require somebody who sold a single gun on the used market to obtain an expensive in federal license. However, the official guidance issued the action's aftermath is at odds with much of what the administration said publicly.

Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, has courted gun control advocates throughout the campaign. She has publicly called for the United States to consider adopting an Australian-style gun confiscation scheme. In private she has criticized the Supreme Court for affirming an individual right to own firearms.

Alan Gottlieb, who founded the pro-gun Second Amendment Foundation, said the political rhetoric combined with recent acts of terror and economic uncertainty have driven gun sales. "These ongoing new monthly records reflect the concerns Americans have about crime, terrorism, economic turmoil and the political class gun prohibition attempts to disarm them," he said."They are voting with their checkbooks and buying more firearms and ammunition."

"People have a real fear about where we are headed."