The February 2013 NICS Check Report

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has released their adjusted-NICS check statistics for February. Contrary to what I thought might happen, February 2013 checks were up 29.1% over the same period in 2012.

The February 2013 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,634,309 is an increase of 29.1 percent over the NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,266,344
in February 2012. For comparison, the unadjusted February 2013 NICS
figure of 2,298,561 reflects a 32.5 percent increase from the unadjusted
NICS figure of 1,734,646 in February 2012.

This marks the 33rd straight month with increases in NSSF-adjusted NICS checks over the same period in the prior year.

I had thought perhaps low inventories might have broken this string of increases but obviously not. In retrospect, visits to both small and large gun shops in the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina should have told me that. In the early part of February I visited two small gun stores in the Kernersville area that were packed even though the inventory was down. I also visited the Winston-Salem Gander Mountain which actually had a decent inventory. That store was also crowded.

As always, it should be noted that there is not a direct correlation between NICS checks and gun sales. This is because a few states such as  Kentucky and Iowa use the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for CCW purposes. Moreover, in a number of states such as North Carolina, a concealed carry permit is accepted as a substitute for a NICS check.

Second Highest Adjusted NICS Checks On Record

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has posted their adjusted NICS checks for the month of January 2013 and they are astounding. Not only does this mark the 32nd straight month of increases compared to the prior period the year before but the numbers for January constitute the second highest month on record. Only the previous month of December eclipsed the January numbers.

The numbers:

The January 2013 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,790,154 is an increase of 94.4 percent over the NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 920,840
in January 2012. For comparison, the unadjusted January 2013 NICS
figure of 2,483,230 reflects an 81.4 percent increase from the
unadjusted NICS figure of 1,368,816 in January 2012.

94%! The anecdotal reports that I have read and heard about suggest many of the firearms buyers are first time buyers who have been spurred on in their purchases by the clamor for gun control since the Newtown shootings. As others have commented, just how many of these new gun owners are going to surrender a firearm that they have just bought at inflated prices? Precious few.

Looking at the chart below which compares the current period with the year prior period you can see a substantial increase starting in November 2012. While earlier months do show increases, it is nothing like the last three months and especially December 2012 and January 2013. If the NSSF-adjusted NICS checks are down in February 2013 compared to February 2012 I would speculate that it is tied to the low inventories in many gun shops.

As always I need to add the caveat that NICS checks are not a direct correlation with firearms purchases. Holders of concealed carry permits in a number of states do not have to go through a NICS check as the permit suffices for that. Moreover, states such as Kentucky, Iowa, and Michigan use the NICS system to do part of the background check for new carry permits as well as using it to check on existing permits. That said, the adjusted NICS checks are a good indicator of trends in firearm sales.

Walmart And Guns

SayUncle had a post up yesterday evening about the meeting that representatives from Walmart will be having with Vice-President Joe Biden and his “gun violence” (sic) task force. He posted a reader suggestion to call Walmart’s corporate office. I am reposting it below.

Ok, everybody, don’t call stores, call corporate. Here’s the number: (479)273-4000

That gets you the home office. Tell them you want to express an opinion and they’ll immediately transfer you to another line where you will talk to a real person who will take your comment and record the call.

They are getting calls going both ways right now. They said that they have made not decisions going forward except to hear what Biden’s group says and then weigh that with the comments from their customers.

So start calling. Have your family and friends call. Overwhelm their switchboard with calls and we may keep them on our side.

SayUncle said to let them know that if they cave, you and your family will no longer shop there and that you’ll urge all your friends to do the same. I agree fullheartedly.

The one thing big business understands is money and sales. Walmart had dropped the gun department in many stores but brought it back due to the demand. The only reason that they started selling AR-15s in the first place was due to consumer demand.

As of June 2012, there were 67,369 Federal Firearms Licensees in the United States. This does not include those with a Curios and Relics FFL. Out of those 67,369 FFLs, 1,823 were held by the various Walmart stores around the country. This is about 2.7% of all FFLs. My point is that you have plenty of other options when it comes to purchasing guns and ammo. While Walmart is convenient, they are not the be all and end all in the gun market.

Walmart does not live and die by your gun and ammo purchases but they do live and die by your other purchases. If 90 million American gun owners suddenly said we aren’t going to do business with you anymore, they would be hurting. That is what they need to understand.

December Adjusted NICS – Just As Suspected

The National Shooting Sports Foundation released their adjusted NICS check numbers for the month of December and they are almost off the charts.

Above is the graph of the NSSF-adjusted NICS checks for the last 13 Decembers. The only decrease over the previous since Obama was first elected is December 2009. That probably was reflective of the surge the prior year.

Here are the numbers as reported by NSSF:

The December 2012 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 2,237,731 is an increase of 58.6 percent over the NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,410,937
in December 2011. For comparison, the unadjusted December 2012 NICS
figure of 2,776,105 reflects a 49.7 percent increase from the unadjusted
NICS figure of 1,854,400 in December 2011.

December 2012 also marked the 31st straight month with increases over the same month in the prior year.

 It is important to note that NICS checks are not a perfect correlation with gun sales. States such Iowa, Michigan, and Kentucky use the NICS system for background checks on both new and existing concealed carry permits. Moreover, in a number of states such as North Carolina, a concealed carry permit is accepted in lieu of running the NICS check.

For the entire year 2012, adjusted NICS checks were up 27.7% over 2011.

Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics

Jim Shepherd, publisher and editor of The Outdoor Wire, called out the Associated Press today for some of their reporting on gun sales. We all know that gun sales have been surging throughout the year. However, the AP would have you believe sales in Colorado and Connecticut, scenes of horrible tragedies, were off.

From the AP story “Fewer excited gun-buyers in Colorado and Connecticut”:

The government’s figures suggested far less interest in purchasing guns
late in the year in Connecticut and Colorado, where background checks
also increased but not nearly as much as most other states … Only New Jersey and Maryland showed smaller increases than
Colorado in December from one month earlier.

Sales must really be impacted there, right?

Not exactly as Jim notes:

Sounds reasonable, right? After all, these states are both reeling from the havoc caused there by crazies.

Not necessarily. While the story is accurate that the biggest surges in
background checks for gun purchases were in the South and West, the
numbers weren’t exactly insignificant in either Connecticut or Colorado.
The increases in NICS checks, and as may be implied, gun sales, in
those states were only sixty five and sixty-four percent,
respectively. Colorado’s checks frose from 35,009 in October to 53,453
in December. Connecticut went from 18,761 to 29,246 during the same

It might be more accurate to say that “despite horrific tragedies, the
demand for firearms in both Connecticut and Colorado grew, although not
as fast as the red-hot markets in the South and West.”

But that wouldn’t fit the narrative, although the observation that
“background checks also tend to increase after mass shootings, when gun
enthusiasts fear restrictive measures are imminent.”

 Wouldn’t fit the narrative should be the new motto for the mainstream press when it comes to gun sales and the use of guns for self-protection.

November NICS Checks Set All Time Record

In not unexpected news, the National Shooting Sports Foundation is reporting that the NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System total hit an all-time high in November 2012. This follows on the heels of the announcement that Black Friday was also a record breaker. The previous high had been December 2011.

The November 2012 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,525,177 is an increase of 38.5 percent over the NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,101,076 in
November 2011. For comparison, the unadjusted November 2012 NICS figure
of 1,997,703 reflects a 30.8 percent increase from the unadjusted NICS
figure of 1,527,454 in November 2011.

This marks the 30th straight month in which the NICS checks have surpassed the number in the same month of the prior year. You can see this trend in the NSSF chart below of adjusted NICS checks for the past 12 months.

 If you want to see the impact of the election and re-election of Barack Obama has played on these numbers, examine the chart below.  November 2008 and November 2012 are significantly higher than the other months of November since the year 2000.

It should be remembered that these NICS checks do not have a direct correlation with sales though they are indicative of sales trends. States such as Kentucky, Iowa, and Michigan use the NICS checks for background checks on those applying for concealed carry permits as well as to check on active CCW holders. Furthermore, as readers pointed out on my Black Friday sales post, in many states including North Carolina holders of concealed carry permits are exempted from the NICS background check.

Wall Street Journal Notices Impact Of Election On Gun Sales

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article looking at the impact of the upcoming Presidential election on gun sales. The article by Shelly Banjo examines retailers’ stocking plans, the rise in both NICS checks and excise tax collections, and manufacturers’ backlogs.

Cabela’s has two stocking strategies for this fall and winter season – one if Obama is re-elected and one if Mitt is elected.

The Sidney, Neb.-based retailer and other companies in the guns-and-ammo business say if Mr. Obama wins a second term they are preparing for a surge in sales—the same as they saw after he was elected in 2008—from buyers fearful the president would back policies to make buying a gun more difficult. If Republican challenger Mitt Romney wins, though, the chain plans to stock more items such as waterproof boots and camouflage hunting gear.

“If Mitt Romney is elected and there’s no perceived threat on the freedom to own guns, people might decide to spend disposable income on things like outerwear instead,” said Joe Arterburn, a Cabela’s spokesman.

The article notes that Cabela’s is offering to pay suppliers so as to go to the head of the line for the distribution of limited inventory. Their normal payment cycle is as long as 120 days from receipt of the merchandise. To get guns and ammo for their stores, they are moving this up to 15 days. From a business and accounting standpoint, this is very significant.

When the respective presidential campaigns were asked for comment, the Obama campaign responded with the usual platitudes about President Obama respecting the Second Amendment. The Romney campaign declined to comment. In my opinion, this was a lost opportunity on their part. They should have responded that voters obviously don’t trust Obama to protect their Second Amendment rights and are voting with their pocketbooks. Like I said, a lost opportunity.

CBS This Morning Notices Rising Gun Sales

In a relatively balanced report, CBS’s Tammy Leitner discusses the rise in new gun sales in the United States for CBS This Morning. Interviewed for the story that aired yesterday are a Los Angeles mom who wants to protect herself and her kids and Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation.

CBS attributes the rise in gun sales to a bi-fold fear of rising crime and fear of the gun control measures a second Obama Administration might push. I don’t disagree fear is one of the driving factors behind rising gun sales. However, I don’t think it is the only factor in the growth of gun sales. Other factors that didn’t make the story is that shooting is fun as well as the desire by many to take responsibility for their own safety. Taking responsibility does not have to be driven by fear. It is more akin to buying property and casualty insurance. You hope that you never have to use it but it is smart risk management to protect against great loss.

Ruger’s suspension of new orders is referred to but erroneously states that they are still refusing the new orders.  They resumed taking new orders on May 29th.

25 Months And Counting

June 2012 marks the 25th straight month in which the number of NICS checks made during the month surpassed the number from the prior year.

Graphic by NSSF

From NSSF:

The June 2012 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 846,437 is an increase of 24.5 percent over the NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 679,840 in June 2011. For comparison, the unadjusted June 2012 NICS figure of 1,290,210 reflects an 11.4 percent increase from the unadjusted NICS figure of 1,157,714 in June 2011.

Graphic by NSSF

As the NSSF noted, June 2012 was a 24.5% increase over June 2011. However, the difference between June 2012 and the earlier years is very significant. June 2009 and 2010 look to have about 600,00 adjusted NICS checks or a quarter-million less than this year. That is a large difference!

It should be noted that NICS checks are not a perfect correlation with firearms sales but are a strong indication of general trends in firearm sales. Some states such as Kentucky, Iowa and Michigan use the NICS system for their CCW permit application checks as well as checks on active CCW holders. Conversely, in states such as North Carolina where the Concealed Handgun Permit is an approved substitute for a NICS check, purchases by permit holders will not be counted.

I don’t think we can know conclusively if this continuing trend in the increase of NICS checks is due to the fear of an Obama reelection or just the rise of Gun Culture v2.0. I do know that strong sales have been reflected in the stock prices of companies like Smith and Wesson. Today, the stock hit a 52-week high at $9.50 per share which reflects a four-fold increase in share price.

24 Months And Counting

May marked the 24th straight month in which the NSSF-adjusted NICS checks were greater than the same period in the year before. While not a perfect correlation with gun sales, the NICS checks are indicative of the direction of the firearms market and the associated sales. The NSSF adjusts the gross NICS checks by dropping out the checks from Michigan, Kentucky, and Iowa that are used for CCW permit application purposes as well as those from checks on active CCW permits.

The May 2012 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 840,412 is an increase of 20.6 percent over the NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 696,947 in May 2011. For comparison, the unadjusted May 2012 NICS figure of 1,305,392 reflects a 7.0 percent increase from the unadjusted NICS figure of 1,219,872 in May 2011.

May 2012 also marks the highest number of NICS checks for the month of May over the last 13 years. It is almost double what is was in the year 2000.

One often cited reason for the growth in NICS checks – and presumably gun sales – is the fear of an Obama re-election. However, I tend to agree with Michael Bane who has argued that the growth in sales is more a reflection of the growth of Gun Culture v.2.0 and the new entrants to gun ownership especially for personal defense.

While the presidential election is rather tight, it is not a runaway in favor of Obama and the latest Rasmussen daily poll actually puts Romney in the lead. Nonetheless, if it looks like Obama is solidly in the lead come September and October, I think then it will be Katie bar the door for gun and ammo sales. I really hope it doesn’t come to that.