Enough Speculation: NICS Background Check Numbers Released

There has been a lot of speculation about how the election would impact December National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check numbers.

While we will not presume whether the election was a driving factor, we can now comment on the numbers themselves as the FBI just posted December 2016 NICS data. The number of NICS checks completed in a given month (not counting checks and rechecks for concealed carry permits) can be a good indicator of broad trends in gun sales; however, as noted by the FBI, these statistics only represent background checks, not firearms actually sold. In other words, there is not a one-to-one ratio for background checks to gun sales.

In December 2016, there were over 1.7 million NICS background checks in the handgun, long gun, multiple, other, private handgun, private long gun, and private other categories, compared to more than 2.1 million in the same categories in December 2015. Despite the lower numbers of NICS checks in these categories for December 2016, the year as a whole had the highest number of NICS checks overall in those categories, over 14.9 million, as compared to prior years.