The month of September 2020 continued the seven-month trend of dramatic double-digit increases in terms of federal background checks for gun transfers. 

The unadjusted figures of 2,857,951 checks conducted through the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System last month by itself is a 30 percent hike from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,189,628 in September 2019.

However, 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 around 1.6 million which is an increase of 61 percent compared to the September 2019 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of just over a million. For the record, this puts the running total for 2020 at about 15.4 million checks, of which an estimated 40 percent are to first-time gun owners. 

At this pace, says the NSSF, America could see over 20 million background checks for the sale of a firearm in 2020-- blowing past the previous record of 15.7 million checks in 2016 when Hillary Clinton was favored to win her bid for the White House. 

"This indicates that there is a continued desire for Americans to exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms," said Mark Oliva, NSSF's public affairs director, going on to say that the number could have actually been much higher but inventory is low across country's gun stores after months of increased demand. 

Why the big jump? 


"This has been a year unlike any other, where law-abiding Americans are seeing for themselves the need to be able to protect themselves and their family," said Oliva, before pointing out that background checks for firearm sales usually rise during election years in response to threats of gun control.

"September also brought with it increased attention by voters to the two presidential candidates," said Oliva. "It cannot be discounted that threats by Joe Biden to confiscate, ban, register and regulate out of existence, the firearms Americans want the most are driving sales."
Further, the true number of guns sold across the country is likely higher than what NICS figures suggest. The data does not include private gun sales in most states or in the more than 20 states where a carry permit is used as an alternative to the background check requirements of the 1994 Brady law, allowing the transfer of a firearm over the counter by an FFL without first performing a NICS check. 

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