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January 8, 2018

NICS Checks: Reports of Industry’s Demise are Greatly Exaggerated


By Larry Keane

According to some recent headlines, the gun industry is all but collapsed. No one wants to buy guns anymore. It’s all over.

While that perennial theme may make for good clickbait, the FBI’s data on trends in the number of background checks done show the real story.

Yes, the December 2017 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) figure of 1.6 million is down about 12 percent from December of 2016.

But take a look at this chart showing the data for the month of December for the last 18 years. NICS checks were higher than 13 of the last 18 Decembers. Sure, there are peaks and 2017 isn’t one. But the headlines predictably miss the bigger picture of a thriving industry.

Long term, we see strong industry growth driven by sustainable changes in the market for firearms and ammunition. More women, more minorities, more younger Americans, and more urban enthusiasts are joining the ranks of gun owners and participating in hunting and the shooting sports. Now, more than ever, the changing demographics of those choosing to exercise their Second Amendment rights is helping the industry grow in new and exciting ways.

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