As background checks for gun permits trend downward, the share of estimated gun sales rise — rivaling 2016 in some months — according to FBI data released May 1.
The decreased proportion of permit applications suggests gun sales may be shifting from the rumored Trump “slump” to Trump “bump” — though National Shooting Sports Foundation General Counsel Larry Keane uses the term in jest.
“We’re starting to see an industry rebound and we tongue-and-cheek refer to it as the Trump bump,” he told CNBC Thursday.
Federal background checks ran for permits comprise 41 percent of all applications processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in 2017 — down 5 percent compared to last year.
Meanwhile, data shows dealers sold an estimated 4.5 million guns through April — about half a million less than this time last year, the biggest ever for federal background checks. April estimated sales, however, eclipsed its 2016 totals by more than 4,400.
Still, the firearms industry heads into its historically slower season this summer 10 percent down — but not out, Keane said Thursday.
“Reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated,” he said. “We see long-term growth as actually better for the industry. Slow and steady wins the race and sustained growth in a more normalized market allows the industry members to manage their inventory better, manage their cash flow.”
NICS serves a proxy for gun sales nationwide, but is an imperfect measurement of actual firearms sold. So far this year, 8.7 million applications have been processed through the system, however, Guns.com estimates only 52 percent of those resulted in a gun transfer — 1 percent more than estimated sales for the first four months of 2016.