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Why Gun Sales Are Going Back Up (Again)

Smith & Wesson Model 586
Image: Smith & Wesson.

Why Did Gun Sales Go Back Up? Summertime can often see firearms sales fall off as Americans hit the road for summer vacations, and it isn’t until just before the fall hunting season that sales typically pick up. However, the last two years have changed the traditional rules – with the Covid-19 pandemic jumpstarting record sales just over two years ago.

The sales of firearms have been steadily declining for the past year from record highs, but every month since June 2021 has still surpassed pre-pandemic levels. In fact, as of June 2022, firearm sales in the United States have passed the one million mark each month for nearly three straight years.

According to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), there have been 35 straight months of sales in excess of one million units.

“These figures are a strong reminder of the values and freedoms for which our nation stands, including the right of individuals to keep and bear arms for Americans of all walks of life,” said Mark Oliva, spokesperson for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association.

“While President Biden and gun control advocates demanded strict gun control legislation, Americans voted with their wallets that the Second Amendment is a right they are choosing to exercise by the millions every month,” Oliva added.

June 2022 Sales Increase

What is also notable about last month is that it saw the year’s first year-over-year unit sales increase.

According to Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF) estimates, the June 2022 U.S. firearms unit sales were about 1.5 million units, a year-over-year increase of 7.7 percent relative to June 2021. That increase affected the handgun segment (+5.2 percent) somewhat less than it did the long-gun segment (+8.9 percent). Yet, handguns actually outsold long-guns by a factor of 1.71 handguns per long-gun.

SAAF’s firearms unit sales estimates and forecasts are based on raw data taken from the FBI’s NICS, adjusted for checks unlikely to be related to end-user firearms sales. This includes retailer reports and other information. Yet, even with the SAAF-adjusted NICS numbers, it could be an underestimate of the actual unit sales level by some amount – as some states don’t require NICS on gun transfers/sales.

“The June 2022 data are of interest in that they reflect this calendar year’s first year-over-year increase in firearms unit sales,” explained SAAF Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer. “This increase possibly was due to the discussion regarding additional federal firearms legislation that some customers may have viewed as detrimental to their interests even as the industry as a whole has been not wholly unsupportive of the final bill signed into law by President Biden.”

Best Salesman for the Industry

Last month also saw President Biden sign into law the first major gun safety legislation passed by Congress in nearly 30 years.

“While this bill doesn’t do everything I want, it does include actions I’ve long called for that are going to save lives,” Biden said just before signing the measure. “Today, we say more than enough. We say more than enough.”

The legislation includes incentives for states to pass so-called red flag laws that allow groups to petition courts to remove weapons from people deemed a threat to themselves or others. The law is the most impactful firearms violence measure Congress has approved since it enacted the now-expired assault weapons ban in 1993.

Biden has called for further gun control measures, which most certainly explained the uptick in sales last month. He’ll likely continue to remain the industry’s best salesman.

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.