The National Rifle Association said Friday a better than expected turnout for background checks in March indicates politics isn’t “the driving force” behind gun sales.
Federal background checks ticked up 4.5 percent in March. It’s the first time the month has surpassed February checks in six years.
Guns.com estimates dealers sold more than 1.2 million firearms during the third month of the year, meaning about 52 percent of all applications processed through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System resulted in a sale.
In February, about 54 percent of background checks ended in a sale, while in January — a traditional low point in the year — estimated sales fell just short of 1 million, or about 48 percent of all background checks processed.
“While we don’t have data on when purchasers decided to make a purchase, a reasonable assumption would be that the increase in late 2016 could be attributed to a desire to complete a planned purchase sooner to avoid the worst possible outcome of the election,” the association said in a blog post Friday. “The increase in sales-related NICS checks each month of 2017 suggests that fear of anti-gun policies isn’t the driving force behind firearms purchases but perhaps simply a factor in the decision on when to purchase.”
The NRA calculated March 2017 rounds out the top 10 in background checks performed since 2008 and comes in at number 17 overall for estimated sales.
“Or, put another way, Americans’ commitment to liberty, tradition, and self-defense isn’t dictated by political developments,” the association said.