The Federal Bureau of Investigation ran more firearms-related background checks in May 2017 than in any previous May, indicating record gun sales.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) registered 1,942,677 checks this May, according to FBI documents posted Thursday. That represents an increase of over 70,000 checks from the previous record set in 2016. May represents the first time that NICS processed more checks during a month in 2017 than it did in 2016.
The new record comes after many in the media have said the gun industry is in a slump related to the election of President Donald Trump. While the beginning of 2017 saw a drop-off in NICS checks compared with the same time last year, they remained historically high. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry group, said for months their analysis of the raw NICS check numbers show gun sales were at or above record levels in March and April. The group's analysis also found May's sales set a new record.
"May of 2017 is the highest NSSF adjusted-May on record and about a 6.5 percent increase over adjusted-May of 2016," Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president, told the Washington Free Beacon. "It is further proof that the while the industry has come off the peak demand in 2016, the valley floor is higher. The market has returned to a more normalized condition."
The group said the record sales are driven mainly by organic growth in the shooting community.
"The data indicate that consumer demand is now at or above that which we saw in 2015," Keane said. "This is due to organic growth in the market as more and more Americans are participating in the shooting sports, hunting, and exercising their constitutional right to keep and bear arms for self-defense."
The number of NICS checks in a given period of time is widely considered to be one of the strongest indicators of gun sales because NICS checks are required on nearly all sales involving a licensed gun dealer, but is not a one-to-one representation for a number of reasons. Most states do not require NICS checks on sales between private individuals, and more than one gun can be sold during a single NICS check. Other states require NICS checks during the application process for gun-carry permits as well.
"These statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS," the FBI said in its report. "They do not represent the number of firearms sold. 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."