by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
2017 saw the second-most gun-related FBI background checks on record, a report released on Wednesday showed.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) conducted 25,235,215 checks last year. That’s nearly 2.3 million checks fewer than the record-breaking year of 2016 but also nearly 2.1 million checks more than 2015, the third-best year on record.
The number of checks conducted by NICS is generally considered a leading indicator of how many gun sales have been processed in a given period of time in large part because nearly all sales—including all new gun sales—made through a federally licensed dealer must include a background check. It is not, however, a perfect representation of raw gun sales for a number of reasons. Sales between private parties on the used market are not required to go through a background check in most states. Sales of multiple guns during one transaction generally only require a single background check. …
… The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a leading industry group, also pointed out that NICS check numbers reported by the FBI include checks for gun-carry permits. The group’s own analysis of the report found 2017 was the fourth-highest year on record for gun checks. They said the slow down compared with 2016 was expected but considered 2017 a historically strong year regardless.