September NICS Continue Trend, Third Highest Month for Gun Sales

AmmoLand – by Dean Weingarten

U.S.A. –-(– September 2022 continues the run of third highest months in 2022 for firearm sales through the National Instant Background Checks System (NICS) and for the checks themselves. 

2020 has been a record year for gun sales and NICS checks. The second-highest September for NICS checks was in 2021. The second-highest firearm sales in September was in 2021.

2022 is likely to be the third-highest year for both firearms sales and NICS checks.

The number of NICS checks in 2020 was about 40 million. The number of gun sales was about 21 million.

The number of NICS checks in 2021 was about 39 million. The number of gun sales was about 18 million.

So far, there have been about 12.8 million guns sold in the first three quarters of 2022. Traditionally, the last quarter is the strongest quarter for gun sales of the year.

Lines are from 2021; Bars are from 2022

This comes from a combination of three factors:

  • Fall hunting season raises demand for hunting guns.
  • November elections raise demand for guns threatened by politicians.
  • Firearms purchased as gifts for the Christmas season.

This year, a contentious political season, uncertainty about war and food supplies, and increasing violence in the urban centers all point toward a strong fourth quarter for gun sales. Popular ammunition caliber prices have dropped slightly.

Another five million gun sales are expected by the end of December 2022.

NICS background checks continue to be loosely correlated to firearm sales, but only loosely. Several states use large numbers of NICS background checks for purposes other than firearm sales. In 20-25 states, people use their carry permit NICS check for firearm purchases. Those firearm sales are not recorded in the NICS system.

Using the carry permit to purchase firearms is simpler, faster, and easier than accessing the NICS system by telephone and dealing with an FBI operative.

When the ATF data is examined two years after gun sales are made, it appears the increase in the private stock in the USA is about 87% of the gun sales. This can be explained by sales of used firearms.

Using the .87 correction factor, the private stock is estimated at 484.6 million firearms in the USA at the end of September.

By the end of 2022, there are expected to be 489 million privately owned firearms in the United States of America.

William English, having completed the largest survey of gun owners to date, estimated there were 415 million privately owned guns (where the gun owners admitted to gun ownership) as of the spring of 2021.

There have been about 25 million more private guns sold in the United States since then. The estimate obtained by the National Firearms Survey and the estimate based on ATF numbers and NICS checks for firearms sales is not far apart. The survey, with firearms sold since it was taken, estimates  440 million private firearms owned in the United States. The estimate of private firearms based on the ATF numbers is 484.6 million firearms privately owned in the USA.

To put it another way, the National Firearms Survey found 91% of the firearms expected from the ATF estimate. If 9% of those surveyed did not mention they owned firearms, the entire difference would be explained.

The 9% is well within the estimates for “shy” gun owners (those who are not willing to admit to gun ownership), found in previous surveys, of 10% to 12%.


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