2023 Gun Sales 4th Highest Since Records Kept

by Tommy Grant

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Total firearms sold at retail in 2023 might not have topped the Covid pandemic-inspired years of 2020 and 2021, but they were still strong enough to make last year the fourth highest total since records have been kept.

Background check numbers provided by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) totaled 15.8 million in 2023, bolstered by a strong December figure that was up 1.6% from December 2022. Incredibly, December 2023 marks the fifty-third straight month that background checks have exceeded the 1 million mark.

For comparison, 2023 was the fourth highest year on record since NICS was instituted in November. Only the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 had higher totals than last year.

Note that although 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.

Mark Oliva, NSSF managing director of public affairs, said sales numbers indicate that Americans by the millions have once again shown that they want to continue to practice their right to keep and bear arms.

“These are solid figures that reflect the mood of Americans and the desire to exercise Second Amendment rights,” Oliva said. “In December alone, nearly 1.8 million times, Americans purchased a firearm at retail. That was a strong finish to cap off the 15.8 million times Americans did the same thing throughout the year.”

Oliva added that the sales numbers show how the gun issue is of top importance to many Americans, despite continued assaults by anti-gun politicians, bureaucrats and gun-ban organizations.

“These figures are a reminder of the importance law-abiding citizens place on their personal safety and freedoms, even as the Biden-Harris administration is using a ‘whole-of-government’ approach to chill and ultimately eliminate those rights,” he said. “These figures are encouraging for the firearm industry going into 2024. History indicates that background checks for the lawful sale of firearms typically rise during election years. This industry is ready to satisfy the demand for lawful firearm ownership in America.”

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