Interest in guns across the nation has surged in recent years, leading to several months of record numbers of background checks being performed by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Indeed, according to recent NICS numbers, firearm interest is even spiking in states with historically low rates of gun ownership.
There has been a significant increase in the number of NICS checks being processed in states like New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Delaware — the five states recently identified by WalletHub to have the lowest rates of firearms ownership.
NICS processed 4,886 and 5,173 background checks in January and February respectively for Delaware, the state with the lowest rate of firearms ownership.
This represents a 18 percent increase in background checks over last January, and a 25 percent increase over February.
For Rhode Island, the second-lowest state for firearms ownership, NICS processed 2,617 background checks in January and 2,392 in February, representing increases of 52 and 35 percent over last year’s numbers.
There were 34,071 federal background checks processed for New York in January and 34,195 processed in February, an increase of 29 and 32 percent, respectively.
New Jersey saw 8,683 federal background checks processed for January of this year and 9,811 for February, increases of 22 and 36 percent over last year.
New Hampshire, the state with the fifth lowest firearm-ownership rates, had 16,887 federal background checks processed in January and 14,577 in February, an increase over last years numbers of 72 and 60 percent, respectively
In all five states December 2015 was a record-setting month.
Additionally, Maryland — which wasn’t identified as one of the bottom five states for gun ownership, but is listed among the five least dependent states on the firearms industry — has seen significant increases in federal background checks processed for firearm transfers.
In January, NICS processed 13,321 background checks for Maryland, a 43 percent increase over last year. And February saw an increase of 62 percent over last year with 14,735 checks processed in the state.
Of the states with the lowest rates of firearms ownership and dependency on the industry, only Rhode Island and New Hampshire saw a decline in background checks from January to February.
While NICS numbers are a good measuring stick for firearms purchases, they don’t perfectly correlate as many states use the federal criminal background check system to process checks for carry permit holders.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation adjusts the NICS numbers each month by eliminating checks that are coded for concealed weapons permits.