While these are the gross numbers and not the NSSF-adjusted NICS check numbers, the FBI reported today that it processed 2.78 million NICS checks during the month of December. According to the story in Reuters, this represents a 39% increase over the month of November which had been the previous all time high.
These NICS check numbers are also up 49% over last December.
Consumer demand for guns appears to have accounted for the uptick in activity. There were no changes in FBI background check procedures that would have affected the December numbers, FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said.
December is typically the busiest month of the year for checks, however, due in part to Christmas gift sales.
The figures do not represent the number of firearms sold, a statistic the government does not track. They also do not reflect activity between private parties, such as family members or collectors, because federal law requires background checks only for sales from commercial vendors with a federal license.
Someone who passes a background check is eligible to buy multiple firearms.
FBI checks for all of 2012 totaled 19.6 million, an annual record and an increase of 19 percent over 2011.
I don't think this will come as a surprise to anyone who has been to a gun shop, big box store, or any other place that sells firearms in the past two to three weeks. I know my visits to two local WalMart stores in western North Carolina showed them to be cleaned out of virtually everything except 2-3 rimfire rifles and a couple of shotguns. Rifle ammo was non-existent except in .30-30 or esoteric calibers like .300 Winchester Short Magnum while the only pistol ammo was in .380 ACP, .38 Special, and .44 Magnum. At least the run on .380 ACP of a few years ago is over.
Reuters attributes much of the increase to the Newtown tragedy and the resultant call by the gun prohibitionists for gun bans and magazine bans. I'm sure this is at least partially correct. I'd like to see - and I don't know if it is available - a day by day record of NICS checks for the month of December. That would empirically confirm what we think is happening.
Once NSSF releases their numbers, I'll be posting them as well.