Monthly Gun Sales Up 10 Percent Since Last September

Dem proposals may be driving surge

Orem, Utah, gun shop / Getty Images

September 2019 saw 10 percent more gun sales than September 2018, according to two analyses of background check data released this week.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the gun industry's trade group, estimated there were over one million gun-sale background checks last month, a 10 percent increase over September 2018.

"The September 2019 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,011,636 is an increase of 10.0 percent compared to the September 2018 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 919,979," the trade group's analysis said. "For comparison, the unadjusted September 2019 FBI NICS figure 2,189,028 reflects a 15.5 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 1,895,841 in September 2018."

Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting (SAAF), an industry consulting group, found similar results in its own analysis, with gun sales increasing 10.7 percent over September 2018. It also found that handgun sales increased 11.6 percent and long gun sales were up 7.2 percent. All other sales, including situations where more than one gun was purchased during a single background check, were up 24.7 percent.

The surge in sales comes as Democrats running in the 2020 presidential primary have floated a variety of new gun control schemes. Their proposals have ranged from nationwide gun licensing, to bans on the sale of certain rifles, to outright confiscation. This push for strict new gun laws may be behind the rise in sales.

While there is no exact count of the number of firearms sold each month, the FBI does track the number of background checks performed through NICS. The NSSF and SAAF then analyzed the total number of background checks to remove checks that are unlikely to indicate sales, such as gun carry permit checks, to arrive at their estimates.

These refinements are necessary because raw numbers are no longer a reliable measure of total monthly gun sales in the United States. In recent years, more states have begun running monthly re-checks of those with gun carry permits.

Since single background checks can include multiple gun sales, and some states use gun carry permits instead of background checks, even the NSSF and SAAF estimates do not capture all gun sales.

The estimated bump in September gun sales follows a strong August for the industry. Sales numbers were lower during the first several years of President Donald Trump's term.

"The industry will be pleased, having seen excellent sales numbers in August and September that have brought this year's year-to-date unit sales just 100,000 units short of last year's sales-to-date," Jurgen Brauer, SAAF chief economist, said in a statement.