The number of gun-related background checks performed in July far exceeded those of any previous July, newly released numbers from the FBI show.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, processed nearly 2.2 million checks last month. That represents an increase of almost 600,000 checks over the previous record set last year. It is also an increase of more than a million checks over July 2011.
The July record is the latest in a string of 15 record-setting months for firearm background checks. July also saw an increase over June’s numbers as the gun industry’s seasonal lull comes to an end.
This calendar year, with more than 16 million checks on record thus far, remains on pace to break the NICS check record for a single year set in 2015.
Though NICS background checks are required for nearly all sales conducted by federally licensed firearms dealers, the NICS numbers are not an exact match for the number of gun sales conducted in the United States. Some states request NICS checks when processing their gun carry permits and most states don’t require NICS checks on private sales of used firearms.
“These statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS,” the FBI said in their report. “They do not represent the number of firearms sold. Based on varying state laws and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.”
Gun rights advocates have long contributed the new higher level of gun sales to both increased terrorist activity throughout the world and a renewed push for stricter gun control laws at home. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton appeared to moderate her rhetoric on guns at the Democratic National Convention but has campaigned for new gun control measures during her run for the presidency.
Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation predicted that the gun sales spike would continue through the rest of the election.
“This trend has been going on and will continue at least up to the elections in November, Americans are very worried about their personal safety and security at a time of both heightened terrorism, crime and calls for tougher gun controls including bans on many firearms and accessories by President Obama and candidate Hillary Clinton as well as the platform of the Democrat party,” he said.