December initial NICS figures highest in 23 months

The raw data released from the FBI shows that NICS figures for last month are the highest in nearly two years. (Photo: FBI)

The raw data released from the FBI shows that NICS figures for last month are the highest in nearly two years. (Photo: FBI)

More than 2.3 million background check requests were processed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Background Checks System in December 2014, a more than 13 percent increase from the previous year.

The raw figure as it stands is the highest since the post-Newtown peak of December 2012/January 2013, which saw panic buying over fears of increased federal gun laws and is the third-highest month overall since the FBI started the program 16 years ago.

“The latest NSSF-adjusted NICS figures demonstrates that the long term growth for our industry continues as sales, while below the atypical peaks for 2013, are ahead of 2012 figures,” explained Larry Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation to Guns.com Thursday. “There have never been more law abiding gun owners owning more firearms than ever before, all while firearm accidents and crime continue to decline to record lows.”

While the total number of background checks does not equate to total number of guns sold, it does paint a picture of current market conditions. In addition to other purposes such as CCW permit application checks, NICS is used to check transactions of firearms sales and transfers on new and used handguns and long guns.

Federal Firearms Licensees have used NICS to determine whether a potential buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives since it launched in November 1998.