Gun sales are going through the roof, according to the FBI. The agency released their National Instant Criminal Background Check System statistics for the month of October this week, the best available method for determining the number of gun sales. According to the FBI, 2,333,539 NICS checks were run last month, setting a new October record. Additionally, the rise makes this the 18th straight month that Americans have set a record for background checks.
2016 is on pace to see the most background checks in the history of the system. Already, with two months left to go – and heavy shopping months at that – 2016 is only behind 2015 as it pertains to the number of NICS checks run through the national system.
Gun sales are difficult to pinpoint, as there are laws prohibiting a more specific collection of data. Experts point to the NICS system as a decent way to get an approximation, however, even if the numbers aren’t exact. Most gun sales have to go through the system, but there are certain sales in certain states that are exempt, such as private transfers. Sometimes, background checks are run without an accompanying sale as well, such as when an individual applies for a special permit.
“These statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS,” the FBI said. “They do not represent the number of firearms sold. Based on varying state laws and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.”
Speaking of correlations, we shouldn’t jump to political conclusions when it comes to these numbers. It’s reasonable to assume that the threat of a Hillary Clinton presidency has people rushing to purchase firearms, but we can’t know for sure what’s driving the increase in sales. The election as a whole has many Americans in a state of considerable uncertainty, which could also play into the numbers. On the other hand, perhaps the gun industry is simple experiencing a boom period that has little to do with politics. Not every gun is purchased out of fear, contrary to what the media often assumes.
That said, gun distributors have often called Barack Obama one of the greatest firearm salesman in history, and Hillary Clinton may be ready to take that title from him. If she wins next week, she will have considerable power over the direction of the Supreme Court, and she’s made no secret of her disdain for the NRA and the current state of gun control. In other words, if you were thinking of buying a gun, it might be in your interests to act now rather than later. You never know.