According to a recent story by Stephen Gutowski at The Reload, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reported that 2022 saw 16.4 million queries run through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) that were related to firearms. While NSSF has not yet done a complete analysis of 2022 data—where it removes NICS checks that were likely not related to actual firearms sales—it is possible that the final tally will exceed 15 million gun sales for the year.
NICS background check numbers don’t represent firearm sales exclusively or correlate exactly to the number of firearms sold, but they are broadly indicative of sale trends and, by implication, the growth of the gun-owning community. Adjusted NICS data from NSSF, which subtracts transactions coded for carry permit checks and rechecks from the overall NICS figures, confirm that gun sales remain consistently strong despite record-breaking inflation.
While sales may no longer be breaking records, interest in firearms remains high. This should be a solid indication that Americans, in general, remain committed to their rights protected under the Second Amendment.
As we reported in December, strong gun sales, along with reports on 8.5% of Americans holding concealed carry permits (even as the need for such permits declines as more states enact constitutional carry), help reveal how tens-of-millions of law-abiding citizens truly feel about the right to keep and bear arms.
Gun sales may be down from the preceding two years, but it is important to consider a number of factors before trying to determine what this means. First, in 2020, the current annual record year for sales, America was faced with a global pandemic, and a number of demonstrations that devolved into full-blown riots across the country. With growing concerns over first responder resources being stretched thin, and a perception that many in government seemed unwilling to do anything to counter widespread violence, it was hardly a surprise to see gun sales dramatically increase.
Then, 2021 saw the most anti-gun president in American history take control of the White House. Joe Biden repeatedly threatened to eviscerate the Second Amendment, and berate those who support the Second Amendment. Couple that with a dramatic increase in violent crime across the nation, and it was again no surprise to see gun sales at levels unknown before 2020.
Last year saw record levels of inflation hit our pocketbooks, as the economy headed towards recession. But even with the economic downturn, 2022 gun sales remained at a historically high level—eclipsed only by the preceding two years.
What will 2023 bring? If Biden continues his attacks on our right to keep and bear arms, and violent crime continues to be a problem, don’t be surprised if gun sales this year continue to establish what some have termed a “new normal” for lawful firearm purchases and support for the Second Amendment.