NICS Gun Sales Figures up 69 % Last Month, Best April on Record


Last month saw the highest number of FBI NICS checks processed during April in the agency’s history. (Photo: Chris Eger/

The month of April 2020 was the highest April in terms of federal background checks for gun transfers since the system was established.

The unadjusted figures of 2,878,176 checks conducted through the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System in last month is a 24.9 % jump from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,305,136 in April 2019.

While those numbers alone are noteworthy, when the data is adjusted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation by removing figures for gun permit checks and rechecks by states which use NICS for that purpose, the number of checks stands at 1,678,223 which is an increase of 69.1 percent compared to the April 2019 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 992,642.

NSSF graph April NICS adjusted

When stacked against previous Aprils going back to 1999, last month set a record by far. (Graph: NSSF)

While the number of adjusted background checks outpaced those of the previous year for the past 11 months running, the past two months have seen a dramatic climb in firearms sales.

March 2020 saw exponential growth in sales as suggested by a huge jump in firearm background checks, with the month setting an all-time record for not only the month but also the highest volume day and week since NICS was established.

With that being said, the true number of guns sold across the country is likely higher than what NICS figures suggest. The data does not include private gun sales in most states or cases where a carry permit is used as alternatives to the background check requirements of the 1994 Brady law which allows the transfer of a firearm over the counter by a federal firearms license holder without first performing a NICS check.

Over 20 states accept personal concealed carry permits or licenses as Brady exemptions.

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