More than 2.2 million firearms were sold in the United States in January, according to an estimate from Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF). The number, which represents a 79-percent increase when compared to the same period last year, is based on the volume of records processed through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Purchases made by people with a valid carry permit in regions that do not require the duplicative check, and some private transactions, are not reflected in the federal figures.
The news comes on the heels of 2020 shattering all previous high-water marks for gun purchases in the nation. SAAF estimates that of the 39,695,315 NICS checks conducted last year, roughly 23 million were firearm-sale related. Administrative use of the system, which includes concealed-carry permit application and renewal, account for the rest of the volume.
January 2021 now holds the record for most NICS checks conducted by the FBI in any single month. A total of 4,317,804 were processed. The system began operation in 1998, but until last month failed to reach the 4 million mark, despite December and June of 2020 coming in at 3,937,066 and 3,931,607, respectively.
Most experts agree last year’s upswing was fueled largely by home- and self-defense concerns due to the ongoing pandemic and periods of civil unrest, although politics contributed significantly to January’s spike, according to SAAF Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer.
“January 2021 certainly started off with a sales ‘bang’ due to the turmoil surrounding the confirmation and inauguration of Mr. Biden as the new U.S. President,” he said. “The 79-percent year-over-year increase, however, was not unprecedented—an even higher increase, of just over 100 percent, was experienced in January 2013, the month Mr. Obama’s second presidential term began.”
By comparison, the total number of NICS checks performed in January 2013 came in at only 2,495,440, roughly 1.8 million fewer than last month.