The nation's firearm background check system saw its heaviest usage on record last month while gun sales continued to ride a historic high. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System saw 4,691,738 checks initiated in March 2021, the highest figure logged since NICS was established in 1998. When compared to March 2020's NICS figure of 3,709,562, it reflects a 25.2 percent increase and is only the second month to break the 4-million mark. 

Diving deeper, when the data is adjusted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation by removing figures for gun permit checks and rechecks by states which use NICS for that purpose, the number of checks stands at 2,044,136 which is a slight decrease of 14 percent compared to the March 2020 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 2,375,525. Nonetheless, it still stands as the second-highest March on record when it comes to adjusted check data. 

When combined with January and February’s data, the first quarter 2021 NSSF-adjusted NICS figures stand at 5,483,342, a 13.3 percent bump from the 4,841,126 figure for 1Q2020, making it the highest first-quarter on record.

The true number of guns sold across the country is likely even higher than what the NICS figures suggest. The data does not reflect private gun sales in most states or in cases where a carry permit is used in lieu of a check. Over 20 states accept personal concealed carry permits or licenses as Brady check exemptions with South Dakota newly added to the list last month.

Gun Control Talk Driving Sales

Besides a flurry of $1,400 stimmy checks, industry insiders chalk up the reason for strong gun sales in March to calls from politicians all the way up to the White House to ban entire classes of firearms and increase regulation on what's left.

"Americans continue to vote with their wallets when it comes to lawful firearm ownership," Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the NSSF, told "Over 2 million chose to exercise their right to keep and bear arms last month. March’s background checks shows that President Biden’s demand to enact a ban on AR-15s and the push by Democrats to enact laws that would deny Americans their rights is out of step with Main Street, U.S.A."

Banner photo: Colt M4 Carbine in the Warehouse.