Checks up, estimated sales down in semiannual review of NICS
By Christen Smith
Federal background checks for gun sales took few surprising turns in the first six months of 2018, though it appears the year remains on track to become the second busiest in FBI history.
The agency processed 13.1 million applications through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System between Jan. 1 and June 30, according to federal data — landing 5 percent ahead of 2017 and 5 percent behind 2016, the busiest year on record.
Background checks serve as a proxy measure for gun sales, however, the measurement isn’t perfect. Applications for concealed carry permits, periodic rechecks for maintaining licenses and a slew of smaller categories for pawns, redemptions, rentals and other rare situations undercut the total amount of checks processed in one month.
These types of background checks have consumed larger percentages of the total amount recorded each month since the banner year of 2016, federal data shows. So far in 2018, these administrative-type checks have inflated monthly totals, but haven’t translated into boosted sales.
Guns.com estimates sales through the first half of the year exceeded 6.1 million, a 3.5 percent decline over 2017.
Despite the slump, the industry set new a record in the spring after a wave of gun control debate swept Capitol