The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) showed a decline in background checks in February, based on both the raw FBI-reported data and the numbers when adjusted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).

The February 2024 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,343,478 decreased 0.01 percent compared to the February 2023 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,343,593. For comparison, the unadjusted February 2024 FBI NICS figure of 2,336,390 reflected a 6.6 percent decrease from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,502,385 in February 2023.

February 2024 is the 55th consecutive month that the figure exceeded one million adjusted background checks in a single month.

Twenty-four states have at least one qualified alternative permit, which, under the Brady Act, allows the permit holder, who has undergone a background check to obtain the permit, to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer without a separate additional background check for that transfer. The number of NICS checks in these states does not include these legal transfers based on qualifying permits, and the NSSF does not adjust for these transfers.

The adjusted NICS data were derived by subtracting out 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 directly correlated to firearms sales, the NSSF-adjusted NICS data provides an additional picture of current market conditions. In addition to other purposes, NICS checks transactions for sales or transfers of new or used firearms.

These statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold or sales dollars. Based on varying state laws, local market conditions and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.

Image courtesy Mossburg, Chart courtesy NSSF