Background checks serve as a proxy for the number of gun sales, which soared in the months immediately after the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. But NICS checks plummeted in November and December compared with a year earlier, suggesting that the boom may be over.
“2013 was the best year for firearm sales (commercial, domestic) in history — period! That’s true for NH to Hawaii,” said Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association in Rindge, N.H. “Ruger alone sold well over one million guns this year.”
Mr. Feldman said to expect the next surge to be in bullets.
“Ammunition will still be very strong in 2014 as it hasn’t caught up nationally with the demand,” he said.
Gun sales spiked as Congress and a number of states debated whether to impose more restrictions on firearms purchases after Sandy Hook. Congress stalemated, but some states moved forward.
Monthly gun checks set an all-time peak in December 2012, the same month as the school shooting. The next four highest monthly totals for the national background check system all were in 2013.
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Virginia, which has its own Firearms Transaction Program, reported a similar trend with last year’s 479,253 background checks marking the highest total since the project began in 1989.
Gun sales don’t perfectly track with background checks.