The FBI completed 1.38 million gun background checks on an NSSF-adjusted basis in February, an increase of 7.2 percent compared to the February 2020 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1.29 million. The increase follows strong double-digit gains in recent months, including a 75.2 percent hike in January.
For comparison, the unadjusted February 2021 FBI NICS figure 3,394,895 reflects a 22.3 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,776,380 in February 2020.
The adjusted NICS data were derived by subtracting NICS purpose code permit checks and permit rechecks used by states for CCW permit application checks and 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.
The fourth quarter 2020 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 5.63 million reflected an increase of 40.6 percent over the 4.0 million figure for fourth-quarter 2019.
The 2020 annual total of 21.1 million 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.