The March 2021 NICS background checks, as adjusted by the NSSF, fell 14.0 percent to 2.04 million from 2.38 million in the same month a year ago. The figures were competing against a year-ago hike of 80 percent when the pandemic started to spread in the U.S.  The performance marked the first decline since April 2019.

For comparison, the unadjusted March 2021 FBI NICS figure 4.7 million reflects a 25.2 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 3.7 million in March 2020.

The adjusted NICS data were derived by subtracting NICS purpose code permit checks and permit rechecks used by several states such as Connecticut, Illinois and Utah for CCW permit application checks and checks on active CCW permit databases. NSSF started subtracting permit rechecks in February 2016.

In February, the adjusted background checks slowed to an increase of 7.2 percent following strong double-digit gains in recent months, including a 75.2 percent hike in January.

The 2020 annual total of 21.1 million, on an adjusted basis, represented a 59.7 percent increase over the 2019 annual total of 13.2 million. The 2020 total was the highest annual total on record, exceeding the previous record of 15.7 million set in 2016 by 34.3 percent. NSSF estimates that in 2020, over 8.4 million people purchased a gun for the first time, based on retailer surveys.

Photo courtesy The Trace