Just a day before the president announced new executive actions on gun control earlier this month, the FBI reported record numbers collected from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) during the past year.
In December, a whopping 3.3 million firearm-related checks were conducted via NICS. That’s 1 million more than reported in December 2014 (2.3 million), which makes it the highest one-month total in NICS history. The previous one-month high was reported in December 2012 when Obama, after he was reelected, announced gun control would be a top priority during his second term in the White House.
The current surge may have spiked last December but it really began earlier in the year. Monthly totals from May-November 2015 were the highest on record for those months. Over the course of the entire year, 23.1 million NICS checks were reported, 10 percent more than in 2013 and 2014.
Handguns top the 2015 list: 57 percent of checks last year were conducted for them. But in December the trend was long guns, when 58 percent of checks were conducted for them. Perhaps purchases of AR-15s drove that uptick, as NICS numbers suggest Americans now own more than 8 million of them—and the number is growing by about a million per year.
Clearly, gun control is not as popular as President Obama wants folks to believe.
There is no reason to believe 2016 will not be another record-setting year for gun sales. The president has one more year in office, and Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has laid out ambitious plans for gun control should she be elected to the White House in November. Those two things alone might drive gun sales this year. But not to be forgotten is another driver: innovation gunmakers continue to display (see the AH Golden Bullseye Awards).