December, 2022 NICS Checks & Gun Sales Fourth Highest Recorded

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U.S.A.-(– The December 2022 National Instant Background Check (NICS) firearm sales and background checks were the fourth highest on record for the month. Firearm sales and background checks are not well correlated, because of the significant use of background checks for other purposes, particularly for carry permits and carry permit rechecks. There were about 3 million NICS background checks in December of 2022, slightly less than the 3.1 million NICS background checks in December of 2021.

The estimated number of firearm sales in December of 2022 was 1.72 million.  The estimated number of firearm sales in December of 2021 was 1.76 million. Last month, this correspondent predicted December 2022 firearm sales would be 1.8 million. 1.72 is better than a 95% fit.

The total firearms sales for the year, as estimated by the NICS system comes to 17.23 million. It is the third highest year on record for firearm sales. 2021 is the second highest at 18.1 million. 2020 holds the record at 20.66 million firearms sold.

2021 numbers are in lines, 2022 numbers are in bars

The number of firearms sold through the NICS system is not the same as the number of firearms added to the private stock of firearms. Some firearms sales are of firearms which were already part of the private stock in the United States, but which were sold previously, and are now returned to market through a Federal Firearms License holder, and again entered into the NICS system as a private firearms sale. Those sales appear to be about 13% of total private firearm sales in the NICS system. The 13% estimate is found by comparing the ATF firearms manufacturing, importation and export figures to the NICS firearm sales figures for a year.

The ATF report on Firearms Commerce in the United States is the source for the manufacturing, importation, and exportation numbers. It has been issued every year since 2011. No report has been issued in 2022, under the Biden administration.

Using the previous numbers provided by the ATF, and estimating the number of firearms added to the private stock from the NICS numbers in 2021 and 2022, there are now 490 million firearms in the private stock in the United States. Perhaps the ATF will once again publish the Firearms Commerce in the United States statistical report. The estimate made from the NICS numbers will be corrected, even if the correction is fairly small.

Firearm and ammunition sales appear to have stabilized at a new higher level, probably due to significant numbers of new firearms owners.  Manufacturing of both firearms and ammunition have ramped up to meet the new demand. Now, as the supply and demand curves are crossing, prices are coming down on many popular items.  .22 Long Rifle ammunition is available at under six cents a cartridge. Some sales on the internet put bulk .22 Long Rifle ammunition at under five cents a round. Some AR15 pattern rifles are available under $400 on sale, ready to assemble.

War in Europe, sabre rattling in China, domestic distrust over the sanctity of elections in the United States and the scandals being uncovered of FBI and other agencies interference in elections through censorship of news and views, all contribute to a continuing motivation to purchase firearms.

The uncertainties are becoming the new normal, as is the continuing high rate of firearms purchases and ownership.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten