Was This Intended Or Unintended?

Where you place paragraphs in a story makes a difference and can lead to different interpretations of your argument. Today’s Wall Street Journal provides an excellent example of it in a story on the flaws of the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The story is in the Southeast paper edition of the Journal but does not appear online. The only thing online is an infographic on the failures of the system.

Consider this paragraph.

And then there are private sales. Background checks aren’t always required when sales are made by private sellers, those people who make only occasional guns sales from private collections.

It was immediately followed by this paragraph.

Several mass-shooters have purchased guns they shouldn’t have been able to buy. 

The story by Ashby Jones then goes on to give examples of how both the Virginia Tech mass-murderer and the Sutherland Spring First Baptist mass-murderer were able to obtain their weapons, though prohibited persons, after passing a FBI NICS check. The story does detail how the Virginia court and the US Air Force had failed to submit the records for inclusion in the FBI’s databases.

By placing the second paragraph immediately after the paragraph on private sales, the reader is at first led to believe that the mass-murderers obtained their firearms from a private seller which we know was not the case.

If that second paragraph had added “due to the failure to submit disqualifying records to the NICS database” or “even though they passed background checks”, then it would be understood that the killers obtained their firearms due to a failure of the system and not due to the negligence or greed of a private seller.

Is this a case of unintended juxtaposition? Is it a case of tight editing for brevity in the second paragraph? Or is it, more problematically, a case of using the structure of the story to convey an argument for so-called universal background checks.

I don’t know but I do know that the wrong impression is initially given by the structure of the story.

If this came from the New York Times or the Washington Post I would say it was intended to mislead. Since the Wall Street Journal tends to be more neutral on firearms issues, I could go either way. Nonetheless, this is a case of the mainstream media, intentionally or unintentionally, pushing the narrative for universal background checks which is wrong.

The Sky Is Not Falling For Gun Sales

Gun sales in 2012, 2015, and 2016 were so high as to be outside the norm. They were at least one, if not two, standard deviations from the long term average. We know much of the difference was driven by outside events such as the Newtown murders and the widely-assumed probability that Hillary Clinton would succeed Obama as president. What we are seeing in 2017 is a return to the norm but at a higher level.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation just released their adjusted-NICS figure for December 2017. The figure of 1.6 million NICS checks was down 12% from the prior year. That said, it still was the 5th highest December for the adjusted NICS checks on record.

Elsewhere, I’ve read that 2017 was the fourth highest year on record for gun sales as measured by the NSSF adjusted NICS checks. In terms of unadjusted NICS checks, it was the second highest year on record after 2016.

It is important to remember that NICS checks in and of themselves do not have a one-to-one correlation with gun sales. There can be more than one firearm on a single Form 4473. Likewise, carry permits from states like North Carolina and Texas substitute for NICS checks. Finally, many states use the NICS system for their original and continuing checks on those that they’ve issued carry permits.

I will be heading to the SHOT Show which begins in two weeks. I will be reporting regularly on what I’m seeing and what I’m hearing. I am particularly interested in the tenor of conversations I have with dealers.

New One-Day NICS Check Record Set

A new one-day NICS background check record was set on this year’s Black Friday or the day after Thanksgiving. USA Today reports the FBI processed 203,086 background check requests on November 24th. This compares to 185,713 checks last year which had been the previous all-time one-day record.

According to FBI records, four out of the five highest days have been Black Friday. This includes the years 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014. The outlier was the Friday before Christmas 2012. This was two days after then-President Obama said he planned to submit new gun control legislation to Congress in the aftermath of the shootings in Newtown, CT.

As I always caution, while NICS checks are a stronger indicator of firearm sales, there is not a one-to-one correlation between check and a firearm purchase. A check could be used for the purchase of more than one firearm. Furthermore, in many states, concealed carry permits substitute for the NICS check on a purchase. Finally, NICS background checks are used by some states as part of the carry permit process though I think it probably could be assumed that few of Friday’s checks were related to carry permits.

NICS Checks Down For June

The National Shooting Sports Foundation adjusted figure for June 2017 shows a 10.9% decline from the same month in 2016.

From NSSF:

The June 2017 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,016,213 is a decrease of 10.9 percent compared to the June 2016 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,140,088. For comparison, the unadjusted June 2017 FBI NICS figure 1,888,266 reflects an 11.1 percent decrease from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,123,334 in June 2016.

You can see that graphically below:

However, if you study that graphic and read the numbers you should realize that the sky isn’t falling. It is the second highest June on record and the NSSF-adjusted NICS number is still over 1 million checks. Gun sales are probably down from last summer when it appeared that anti-gun Hillary Clinton was going to ride into office after defeating what the media and the experts considered a weak and absurd Republican nominee. Of course we know now that she was the weak candidate and that Donald Trump wasn’t that weak of a candidate.

As with all reports of NICS figures it should be remembered that they do not have a perfect correlation with firearm sales. In many states a carry permit substitutes for a NICS check. Moreover, the NICS check system is also used by many states for permit background checks and rechecks. The NSSF allows for these checks and rechecks when making their adjustments to the reported monthly NICS figures.

NICS Checks Resume Upward Path

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has released it latest adjusted-NICS data. The March 2017 adjusted-NICS checks have resumed their upward path that had been on hold since the election of Donald Trump. The adjusted-NICS checks had shown a year over year increase for the same month in the prior year throughout 2016 until the month of December when it showed a sharp decrease from the prior year. This also held true for the months of January and February 2017. The drop has been attributed to the end of panic buying in anticipation of new gun control measures from a President Hillary Clinton.

You can see this trend in the graphic below:

The numbers as reported by NSSF are as follows:

The March 2017 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,356,929 is an increase of 5.2 percent compared to the March 2016 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,289,670. For comparison, the unadjusted March 2017 FBI NICS figure of 2,422,749 reflects a 3.4 percent decrease from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,509,065 in March 2016.

The first quarter 2017 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 3,693,502 is a decrease of 10.8 percent over the 4,139,791 figure for first quarter 2016.

Even with this quarterly drop as compared to the prior year, March 2017 still was the second highest March on record.

NICS data is more indicative of trends than an actual one-to-one sale of firearms. This is due to certain states using the NICS check system for CCW permit background checks and permit rechecks as well as the exemption from a NICS check for holding of carry permits from certain states like North Carolina.

Senate Will Vote On Overturning Social Security Administration’s NICS Ban Tuesday

Last year, in response to a Executive Memorandum signed by then President Obama, the Social Security Administration engaged in a rule-making that would impact those retirement and disability recipients who needed help with the management of the finances. A final rule was released late in 2016 that would add these people to the NICS prohibited list. The number of people impacted is estimated at about four million recipients.

It should be noted that these individuals need help managing their finances. They have never been adjudicated mentally deficient. I come across people on a daily basis who could use a trustee to manage their finances even though they are otherwise smart, capable individuals.

The House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution 40 on February 2nd that disapproved this rule issued by the Social Security Administration.

The resolution reads:

Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Social Security Administration relating to Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Social Security Administration relating to Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 (published at 81 Fed. Reg. 91702 (December 19, 2016)), and such rule shall have no force or effect.

The Brady Campaign sent out a text alert this morning saying that the Senate will vote on Senate Joint Resolution 14 on Tuesday. This is the Senate’s portion of the disapproval of the SSA rulemaking. They were urging their supporters to contact their Senators to “protect Brady background checks.”

S.J.Res. 14 is sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley and has 29 co-sponsors. I was disappointed to see that neither of North Carolina’s senators was on the list. Nonetheless, we have the votes to overturn this rule if all the Republicans stick together.

I would urge you to call or email your senator to express your approval for this measure. The Capitol Switchboard is at 202-224-3121. You can also go to this page to get the direct number and/or email for your Senator.

There is a lot of “fake news” and misinformation being put out in opposition to this resolution so it is vital that you call.

New SSA Regulation May Be Overturned

The recently adopted Social Security Administration regulation that would report some seniors and disability recipients as mentally deficient to the NICS system will come under review by Congress. That regulation deemed that anyone who required a trustee or custodian to manage their monies to be mentally deficient. The NRA reports that Congress will now review this regulation under the Congressional Review Act with the aim to overturn it.

This is good news and I would hope that they review the similar policy or regulation at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

From the NRA-ILA:

Fairfax, Va. – The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) today scored a victory when Congress agreed to review, and likely revoke, a final rule by the Obama administration that would blindly strip law-abiding Americans of their Second Amendment rights.

“Congress’s decision to review the Obama administration’s back-door gun grab is a significant step forward in protecting a fundamental constitutional right for law-abiding gun owners,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “The NRA has been fighting this unconstitutional government overreach since it was first discussed and we look forward to swift congressional action.”

Last year, the Social Security Administration finalized a proposed rule to ban certain recipients who use a representative payee from owning firearms. This ill-conceived action affected the most vulnerable in America and stripped them of their right to keep and bear arms without due process.

The NRA immediately opposed the Obama administration’s efforts when the proposal was first announced in summer of 2015. The NRA has fought every step of the way to ensure that social security recipients are not stripped of their rights without due process of law.

Today, we learned that Congress will review the Obama administration’s unconstitutional ban under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). CRA allows Congress to dispose of any actions an outgoing administration initiates in its last six months. This final rule falls under that time frame, and the review process is expected to move forward in the House and receive a vote as early as next week.

Imminent revocation of this egregious government action marks the culmination of the NRA’s diligent efforts on behalf of its members and law-abiding gun owners.

“This is a new era for freedom-loving Americans and the NRA is excited to begin work with our pro-Second Amendment president and Congress to ensure that law-abiding Americans’ constitutional rights are respected,” concluded Cox.

The NRA thanks congressmen Sam Johnson (R-TX), Ralph Abraham (R-LA) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) for their work on this effort. It would also like to thank Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for their leadership on this issue.

This Should Infuriate Everyone

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a policy of reporting those veterans who require help managing their finances to the FBI’s NICS System. Those reported are placed upon the prohibited persons list and will get a decline if they should try to buy a firearm from a FFL. This program has been going on for awhile and impacts those that have a fiduciary manage their finances.

But what if you are a veteran managing your own finances? How can anyone assume that you are mentally deficient and thus should be denied your Second Amendment rights?


Attorney Joshua Prince is now representing a veteran who does indeed manage his or her own finances but was turned down when he or she tried to purchase a firearm. I’ll let Mr. Prince fill in the blanks. (The highlighting is mine.)

In my client’s situation, he handles all of his own finances. The VA does not dispute this. Rather, when I finally got a representative from the VA on the line, she informed us that the VA, on its own initiative, placed him into “supervised direct payment status”. When I inquired as to what “supervised direct payment status” was, the representative stated that it is where the veteran handles his/her own financial affairs but they “watch the veteran’s financial accounts.” While the VA contended that they sent out a letter about this status being imposed on my client, my client never received such a letter and they acknowledged that it does not mention anything about the loss of the veteran’s Second Amendment rights, but that the VA has been imposing such since 2013.

No due process is provided. The representative acknowledged that my client never received a hearing and that the determination that my client was incompetent was made solely by a VA official reviewing his case. She stated that he could have appealed the determination when he received the original letter, but the time has since past to appeal. Remember, this is the letter that my client never received and which makes no mention of the loss of one’s Second Amendment rights…

While they have reluctantly agreed to send my client copies of the putative letter that they allegedly previously sent, they refused to provide his entire file, even at my request. This is the new Veteran Affairs Administration, folks. We now treat our illegal immigrants with more respect and benefits than our own veterans. This is an absolute disgrace and the VA’s policies and procedures need to be immediately reversed. Of course, we’re all aware that such is unlikely if former Secretary Clinton is elected…

This veteran was put on “double, secret probation”, was not informed of it, and now has one of his or her enumerated rights being denied. Regardless of where you stand on gun rights, this veteran served our country. He or she deserves at the bare minimum the due process of law guaranteed under the Constitution. That they are being denied this due process should infuriate everyone.

Another Record Month For NICS Checks

The National Shooting Sports Foundation released their adjusted-NICS checks report this week. It marks the 17th straight month with year over year increases compared to the same month in the prior year.

From NSSF:

The September 2016 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,156,961 is an increase of 7.9 percent compared to the September 2015 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,071,945. For comparison, the unadjusted September 2016 FBI NICS figure of 1,983,596 reflects an 11.0 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 1,786,743 in September 2015.

You can see it graphically in the chart below:

 September 2016 also marks the highest September in the past 17 years.

The adjusted NICS checks subtract out the NICS checks that are used by many states for carry permit checks and rechecks. States such as Connecticut and Illinois use the NICS database for their checks.

It should also be noted that in many states such as North Carolina and Texas a carry permit substitutes for a NICS check. While the retail purchaser must file out a BATFE Form 4473, a NICS check is not run.

Depending upon how close the election is in October and the likelihood of Hillary Clinton winning, I would not be surprised to see another record month for October. If Clinton wins, God forbid, then Katie bar the door.

This post was co-written by John Richardson and Barb Richardson

Highest July On Record For Adjusted NICS Checks

The National Shooting Sports Foundation released their adjusted NICS checks numbers for July 2016. Let’s just say upfront that all the gun control talk coming from Democrats is having an impact. It’s just not the one they want.

From the NSSF Bullet Points:

The July 2016 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,210,731 is an increase of 27.9 percent compared to the July 2015 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 946,528. For comparison, the unadjusted July 2016 FBI NICS figure of 2,187,190 reflects a 37.6 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 1,589,462 in July 2015.

As you can see in the graphic below, July 2015 had been the highest on record as well and it just overwhelmingly eclipsed.

The next graphic shows the year over year results by month. For the last twelve months, the adjusted NICS checks numbers were greater than the same month in the prior year.

As always, NICS checks are not a perfect correlation with gun sales as many states use the NICS System for carry permit purposes and as a CCW is accepted in lieu of a NICS check in many states such as North Carolina and Texas.