Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Graphic Look at the 2013 Gun Buying Bubble

The National Shooting Sports Federation posted a very dramatic look at year by year NICS background checks for January to July over the last decade.  I think it's a good period to look at because last January was immediately after the Sandy Hook shooting, and the air was thick with talk of ramming through new gun control laws. 
It's a vivid look at just how big last year's buying frenzy was.  2013 was 28.6% higher than 2012.  This year is down 21.1% from 2013, but still up 1.5% over 2012.  I assume some of the sales that would have happened in 2014 were made in 2013, but it's impossible to know how much from this data.  Suffice it to say that somewhere around 6.8 to 7.5 million NICS checks appears to be the "new normal" since 2012. Roughly twice as many guns are sold now than in 2005.   From a different perspective, I don't think the industry could have supported sales going up the same percentage this year over last.

While you can lose money and go out of business selling guns, with two exceptions, 2010 and this year, the number of NICS checks has increased every year since '05 .  The first seven months of this year are the highest sales level in the decade, except for last year.  Bear in mind that the gift giving season is ahead - Black Friday has been a hot day for gun sales lately - and the industry traditionally expects more gun sales this time of year for hunting season. Personally, I'm getting email sales offers for ammo at prices I haven't seen since '10 or '11. 

For those who are new to this data, the NICS system is the criminal background check that all retail gun sales go through.  NSSF adjusts this background check data from the FBI's National Instant Background Check System data to remove non-sales activity such as background checks conducted for concealed carry permits. This results in NSSF-adjusted NICS data being a better indicator of market conditions than overall NICS data.  Each of these NICS transactions can represent more than one gun sale, and it's simply impossible to know what the total number of new guns sold is with this data.

I'm interested in seeing how the full year ends up compared to '13.  For what it's worth, if the Evil party pulls a big fraud upset and gets control of the house and senate, expect the bubble to start up again.  

We have a new gun show within a half hour drive this weekend.  Maybe we'll  have a belated BAG day.


  1. Bought a couple last year and a couple this year, including a KSG, which I love (thank you, Cocoa, FL :-)

    I wonder if the huge .gov purchases of M4 Benellis, AR-15's, etc. are reflected in these numbers? I'm hoping civilian purchases far exceeded what DHS bought to arm the IRS, Dept of Education, Dept of Agriculture, AEC, NOAA, etc, etc.

  2. Well, yesterday was Buy A Gun Day. I was not able to participate, having already purchased earlier in the year.

    Wonder what the stats were for yesterday?

  3. I bought a K-22 yesterday... small, but it counts! :-)

  4. Andrew - a quick check of the NSSF site didn't show anything.

    I kind of think BAG day is something gun bloggers invented and they might not even know about it. Some folks think of BAG day as April 15th. Some use both.

  5. Reg T - interesting question. I would guess they're not in these stats. NSSF is a retail sales group and I think the gubmint tends to buy them directly from manufacturers or contract wholesalers.

    Old NFO, I'll be checking your place for pictures of the new one. Details on grips, finish, the usual.