March Firearm Sales, NICS Checks for 2022 are Third Highest on Record


Ammoland Inc. Posted on April 8, 2022 by Dean Weingarten
Millions of law-abiding citizens submit to background checks, as intimated by the president's comment to reporters. (Dave Workman)
March Firearm Sales, NICS Checks for 2022 are Third Highest on Record

NICS Graph March 2022

U.S.A. –-(– March 2022 firearm sales and National Instant background Check System (NICS) checks done by the FBI are both the third-highest on record. The NICS system started record-keeping in 1998. There are 24 years of data for March.

The 2022 firearm sales and NICS checks are starting to show a trend of the third-highest after 2020 and 2021. In March of 2022, firearm sales were about 1.62 million. In March 2020 they were 2.37 million. In March 2021, they were about 2.0 million. The next highest March was in 2013, with about 1.47 million firearm sales.

The NICS checks for March 2022 are also much reduced over the previous two years. In 2022, they were 3.08 million. In 2020, they were 3.74 million. In 2021, they were 4.69 million. The next largest number of NICS was in 2018, with 2.77 million Checks.
Lines are data from 2021. Bars are data from 2022.

The NICS checks do not correlate well with firearm sales because large numbers of NICS checks are used for weapons carry permits and carry permit rechecks. The reform of the Firearm Owners ID (FOID) system in Illinois has significantly reduced the number of carry permit checks and rechecks done in Illinois. At times, the permit and permit rechecks in Illinois were as much as 23% of all NICS checks done in the United States. In one month, there were 640,000 NICS checks for permits and permit done in Illinois.

March of 2022 continues strong firearms sales, close to the capacity of manufacturers to produce the firearms desired. A trip to a local gun store showed a significant amount of product on the racks and on the shelves. March traditionally has higher sales than January or February. In ordinary times, after March, sales tend to slump until September.

These are not ordinary times. The war in Ukraine may affect demand in the United States in unexpected ways. The uncertainty in American political institutions may cause a spike in sales. Uncertain times result in increased demand for firearms and ammunition.

If ammunition manufacturers are able to meet and start to exceed demand, increased availability of ammunition could lead to more firearm sales. Increased availability of ammunition should lower prices. Inflationary policies of the Biden administration may offset such a trend.
With the 1.62 million firearms sold in March of 2022, the total number of privately owned firearms in the United States is approximately 484 million.

If the current trend continues for all of 2022, the 500 million mark will be passed near the end of the year; almost certainly by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

Much of the demand is from new gun owners. A significant number of new gun owners are minorities and women. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates 13.8 million first-time gun buyers purchased firearms in 2020 and 2021 combined.

The estimate for the number of privately owned firearms in the United States is derived using the method created by Newton and Zimring. Gary Kleck extended the estimates through 1986 in his award-winning book Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America. This correspondent has extended the estimates through 2019 using the same methods.

There is a delay in reporting the numbers of firearms manufactured in the United States to preserve proprietary information. For that reason, 2020, 2021, and 2022 numbers are estimates using the number of firearms sold with NICS checks.

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