The FBI ran a record number of gun background checks on Americans in March as Americans armed themselves amid growing fears about the coronavirus pandemic.
The March 2020 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 2,375,525 is an increase of 80.4 percent compared to the March 2019 NAAF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,317,114. For comparison, the unadjusted March 2020 FBI NICS figure 3,709,562 reflects a 42.4 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,604,927 in March 2019.
The first quarter 2020 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 4,841,126 reflects an increase of 41.8 percent over the 3,414,361 figure for first quarter 2019.
Please note: Twenty-five states currently have at least one qualified alternative permit, which under the Brady Act allows the permit-holder, who has undergone a background check to obtain the permit, to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer without a separate additional background check for that transfer. The number of NICS checks in these states does not include these legal transfers based on qualifying permits and NSSF does not adjust for these transfers. Recently, the states of Alabama and Michigan had law changes that affected their Brady Law standing which removed qualifying alternate permits usage for firearm transactions. These changes went into effect July 22, 2019 for Alabama, and March 3, 2020 for Michigan. In March 2020, Alabama state’s NSSF-adjusted NICS was 212.1 percent higher than March 2019, which accounts for an additional 41,348 checks over this time last year. March 2020 NICS numbers for Michigan were up 210.8% over March 2019 and account for an additional 57,599 checks.
These numbers represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS but not the number of firearms sold or sales dollars. Some people getting a check may buy several firearms at once or within a one month period.
“This is overwhelming evidence that Americans value their ability to take responsibility for their own safety in times of uncertainty,” said Mark Oliva, spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gunmakers. “The figures are simply eye-popping.”