Gun Laws & Legislation

Record Breaking Firearm Background Checks In 2020

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NSSF’s adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figures put 2020 as the record-breaking year for gun sales. So far in 2020, 17.2 million background checks were conducted for the sale of a firearm, surpassing the previous record in 2016 of 15.7 million.

The October 2020 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,769,553 is an increase of 60.1 percent compared to the October 2019 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,105,335. For comparison, the unadjusted October 2020 FBI NICS figure 3,268,909 reflects a 40.5 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,327,252 in October 2019.

The NSSF-adjusted background checks for January – October 2020 total 17,227,586 and have already exceeded the total 13,199,172 adjusted background checks for the entire year of 2019 by 30.5 percent. Each month since March has been the strongest of that month ever recorded.

This much is clear as we head into Election Day. Americans of all political persuasions are exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms and doing so in record numbers. This hasn’t been a phenomenon of just red states, but also blue states. Never before have so many Americans chosen to exercise their right to firearm ownership, including the estimated 6.9 million who purchased a firearm for the first time this year. Additionally, this has been a sustained period of firearm sales since March. This is clearly not a one-off event.

Unfortunately, today’s gun buyers were given proof throughout the year of why self-defense rights are critical. Coronavirus pandemic measures forced police off the streets for fear of spreading infection and governors released violent prisoners for the same reasons, some of whom were rearrested within days for other violent crimes. Protests quickly turned violent and destructive, even as gun control politicians watched and did nothing. Riots spilled from our urban centers into the suburbs. Certain municipalities called for, and acted upon, movements to defund police and deny the most vulnerable citizens the protection they deserve. Those violent episodes continue and we are witnessing metropolitan areas brace for continued violence.

It cannot be discounted that today’s gun buyers are faced with polar opposites of presidential candidates when it comes to protecting Second Amendment rights. President Donald Trump vowed to safeguard this right and former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris have both embraced outright confiscation of lawfully owned firearms as the headliner of the most far-reaching gun control agenda to be presented to the American voter.

America is watching and is already voting with their wallets when it comes to lawful firearm ownership.

NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, log on to

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