The FBI just issued its monthly report on NICS background checks, and while the good people in West Virginia who take the calls processed 65,000 more calls in July then in June (which is when calls usually drop off since gun sales tend to be lowest during Summer months) and also saw a year-to-year July increase of 37% (from 1,589,462 in 2015 to 2,187,190 this year.) Yet to my utter astonishment, we haven’t yet gotten the usual celebratory announcement from Gun-mob Nation about how Americans just can’t wait to get their hands on all those new guns.
Go back to 2012 and you’ll see that NICS checks in the Summer months dipped well below what they were in the Spring; this was also true in 2013 and again in 2014 when background checks in June and July were more than 100,000 less than what was registered in May. In 2015 Summer checks actually increased slightly over the late Spring months and Spring-Summer increase occurred this year as well. So how come Gun-mob Nation hasn’t been beside itself with joy?
I’ll tell you why. Because most of the increase in NICS from July, 2015 to July, 2016 was because of background checks for new or renewed gun licenses, not for purchases of guns. In July, 2015, there were 1,589,462 checks, of which 642.934 were for licenses or permits, and 877,775 were for transfers of guns. In other words, 55% of the July checks a year ago were for guns; 40% were for licenses (the remaining 5% of the calls were for other administrative tasks that NICS carries out.) In the July that just ended, 52% of the NICS were for guns, 43% were for permits; the proportion of gun transfers for all NICS went down, the proportion of permit checks went up. Gun transfers did increase from one July to the next by 30%; permit checks from July to July went up by 50%. But let’s remember that NICS doesn’t distinguish between checks for guns purchased out of a dealer’s inventory as opposed to gun checks for transfers between individuals, so we have no idea how the spread of private-transfer NICS to states like Colorado, Washington, New York and Connecticut has augmented totals for NICS.
Want to know how to figure out the health of the gun business? Simple. Check out the prices for guns. Right after Orlando the usual stories started popping up about how AR guns were ‘flying’ off dealer’s shelves. Well I just checked some prices online, and I can still get an AR for under $1,000 bucks; I remember that in 2012 the higher-end ARs were selling for twice that price. And last week when the Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey, gave gun shops 24 hours to get rid of their ARs, the story floated around that 10,000 ARs were sold in 24 hours; meanwhile the entire number of NICS checks for all long-gun sales in the Bay State last month was 5,108. Yea, 10,000 guns were sold in a day. I also stayed on my diet yesterday even though before I went to bed I somehow managed to eat a bowl of chocolate ice cream.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the gun business is about to collapse. What I am saying is that the great Obama gun surge has definitely slowed down. And the reason it has slowed down is the same reason that gun sales fell off in the last months leading up to the 2012 election, namely, that most gun-buyers were Romney supporters and polls to the contrary, they all believed their man was going to win. Retail gun dealers like me couldn’t give the guns away in August, September and October of 2012. And I think the same thing is happening today. After all, have you met one Trump supporter who thinks their man won’t win?