NEWTOWN, Conn. — NSSF– The November 2020 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,949,141 is an increase of 45.2 percentcompared to the November 2019 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,342,155. For comparison, the unadjusted November 2020 FBI NICS figure 3,602,296 reflects a 41.5 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,545,863 in November 2019.
The year-to-date total of 19.1 million adjusted background checks continues to add to a record-setting year for firearm sales. The previous complete annual record of 15.7 million background checks was set in 2016. NSSF retailer surveys estimate that nearly 7.7 million people purchased a firearm for the first time in 2020.
Please note: Twenty-five states currently have at least one qualified alternative permit, which under the Brady Act allows the permit-holder, who has undergone a background check to obtain the permit, to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer without a separate additional background check for that transfer. The number of NICS checks in these states does not include these legal transfers based on qualifying permits and NSSF does not adjust for these transfers. Michigan had law changes that affected their Brady Law standing which removed qualifying alternate permits usage for firearm transactions. These changes went into effect March 3, 2020. NSSF-adjusted NICS for the state of Michigan in November 2020 were 118.1 percent higher than November 2019 which accounts for an additional 40,454 checks over the same time period.
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The adjusted NICS data were derived by subtracting out NICS purpose code permit checks and permit rechecks used by states for CCW permit application checks as well as checks on active CCW permit databases. NSSF started subtracting permit rechecks in February 2016.
Though not a direct correlation to firearms sales, the NSSF-adjusted NICS data provide an additional picture of current market conditions. In addition to other purposes, NICS is used to check transactions for sales or transfers of new or used firearms.
It should be noted that these statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold or sales dollars. Based on varying state laws, local market conditions and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.