The nation's firearm background check system saw some of its heaviest usage on record last month, logging the second busiest August on record. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System saw 2,697,234 checks initiated in August 2021, one of the highest figures for that month logged since NICS was established in 1998. When compared to August 2020's NICS figure of 3,085,227, it reflects a 12.6 percent decrease but, when stacked against the previous 22 Augusts on record, it comes in second place. 

Looking further, when the data is analyzed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to remove figures for gun permit checks and rechecks by states that use NICS for that purpose, the number of checks stands at 1,328,518 which is a 21.1 percent drop compared to the August 2020 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,684,083. Nonetheless, that figure, as with the unadjusted checks, still stands as the second-highest August on record when it comes to adjusted check data. 


August 2021 NSSF NICS figures
The August 2021 NICS numbers are among the highest on record, greatly surpassing all but last year's totals. (Chart: NSSF)


Retail firearm sales remain steady, above historic norms

"So far in 2021, there have been over 12.4 million background checks for the sale of a firearm," Mark Oliva, NSSF's director of public affairs, told about the latest NICS numbers. "That is within striking distance of 2019’s full-year totals when 13.2 million background checks were conducted for a gun sale. Four months remain, during which firearm sales historically rise."

Oliva stressed reasons for the continued demand for lawful firearm ownership come at a time when the Biden-Harris administration is pushing to achieve a draconic anti-gun agenda promised during last year's election cycle. 

"President Joe Biden nominated a gun control lobbyist to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is calling for the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act to allow activist lawyers to sue firearm manufacturers into oblivion and is pursuing end-runs around Congress through proposed rules that are outside the Executive Branch’s constitutional authority," said Oliva. "Americans are choosing a different path. Americans acted upon their God-given right to keep and bear arms over 1.3 million times in August. That sends a clear signal that Americans are choosing their gun rights over the Biden administration’s gun control."

Banner image: Beretta 92X on the range (Photo: Chris Eger/

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