September 2021 was the second highest for that calendar month in terms of federal background checks for gun transfers since the system was established two decades ago.
The unadjusted figures of 2,602,293 checks conducted through the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System last month, while an 8.9 percent drop from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,857,953 in Sept. 2020– a month filled with COVID fears, a tense election cycle, and a wave of urban unrest – are still way higher than those seen in prior years.
When the figures for last month were filtered by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to remove data for gun permit checks by states that use NICS for that purpose, the number of checks stands at 1,350,754, which is a drop of 17.3 percent compared to the Sept. 2020 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,632,918. As with the unadjusted figures above, this is also the second highest on record. Further, it is over 20,000 more background checks for gun sales than were recorded in August 2021.
With the end of the third quarter of 2021, the NSSF-adjusted NICS figures of 3,970,570 for that period are also the second highest on record, pushing into the 13.7 million mark for the year so far. Of note, 2019's likely firearm sales as based on NICS data was only 13.2 million, by comparison, for the entire year.
Mark Oliva, public affairs director for the NSSF, told Guns.com that seasonal shifts in firearms sales are likely to continue to fuel record-high receipts.
"Firearm sales typically rise during autumn months as hunters get back into the woods, fields, and marshes for hunting season and gun buyers take advantage of new models and holiday sales," said Oliva. "It must also be considered that Americans continue to buy firearms for personal protection. The recent FBI Uniform Crime Report indicated that violent crime rose, and Americans continue to buy firearms in response to concerns for their personal protection.
"Each month since April 2021 has registered as the second-strongest month on record for gun sale background checks, only behind 2020, when 21 million background checks were recorded. At this pace, 2021 could be the second strongest year for firearm sales ever recorded."