NICS data delayed as government shutdown nears one month mark
By Christen Smith
2018 background check totals remain a mystery during government shutdown. (Photo: Larry Deklinski/The News-Item, via Associated Press)
Three weeks into the new year, it’s still unclear how 2018 stacked up against the rest of the decade in gun background checks — thanks to the longest government shutdown in history.
A spokesperson for the National Shooting Sports Foundation confirmed this week the ongoing impasse will delay the release of monthly totals for the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System as federal agencies operate with limited staff.
Pending December’s totals, 2018 appeared on track to rank as the second busiest in FBI history for federal background checks — though estimated sales will likely fall to fourth or fifth place.
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. Throughout 2018, these administrative-type checks inflated monthly totals, but didn’t translate into boosted