News and Blog Information
Criminal Background Checks
If you were a pundit in 2016, chances are by now you’re looking for a new career. Because everything the polls predicted to happen, didn’t happen. Britain voting to remain in the EU? Wrong. Hillary Clinton winning the White House? Very wrong. La La Land winning Best Picture at the Oscars? Well, that was partially correct.
US gun sales, steadily increasing through 2016 in expectation of a Clinton victory were expected to flat line once the Trump win was secured. But this was yet another prediction thwarted by real life events - because the opposite happened.
There is no single database of gun ownership in the US so analysts tend to rely on figures from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to track market trends in gun sales. Everyone wishing to purchase a gun from an authorised dealer needs to complete a 16-page questionnaire about their background including drug use and criminal history.
Far from the post-election predicted slump in gun sales, gun ownership remains as popular as ever in the US. The total of NICS background checks requested in 2016 was 27,538,673, eclipsing 2015’s total of 23,141,970. On Black Friday 2016 alone, the number of NICS applications rose by 0.2% over the same period in 2015. That may not sound like much but it equates to 185,713 applications for gun ownership on a single day. Or to put it another way, that’s enough ordnance to arm the US Marine Corps.
During the 18 months leading up to the 2016 election demand for gun ownership rose steadily, with gun store owners putting it down to the anticipated tightening of gun controls under a Clinton administration. It was then widely predicted that with Trump heading to the Whitehouse – and his pledge to leave gun laws well alone - gun sales would drop off. In the immediate aftermath of the election, shares in gun makers Sturm Ruger and rival Smith & Wesson both slumped.
So the increase in Black Friday sales was something of a welcome surprise. The drive behind the surge in sales is still debated. One more mundane reason given is that gun stores had been stockpiling during the pre-election months so were offering deep discounts on Black Friday in the need to shift their inventory.
But there is another, less prosaic pull toward the need for self-preservation. Some gun store owners also reported a marked increase – up to four fold on previous years - in sales to African Americans and other minority customers, and black gun groups are seeing twice as many attendees at their meetings since the Trump election. As Rush Limbaugh once said: “You know why there's a Second Amendment? In case the government fails to follow the first one.”