NSSF-Adjusted NICS Background Checks for December, Q4 and Annual 2020
The December 2020 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,906,916 is an increase of 22.7 percent compared to the December 2019 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,553,965. For comparison, the unadjusted December 2020 FBI NICS figure 3,904,879 reflects a 34.7 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,898,501 in December 2019.
The fourth quarter 2020 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 5,625,610 reflects an increase of 40.6 percent over the 4,001,455 figure for fourth quarter 2019.
The 2020 annual total of 21,083,643 is a 59.7 percent increase over the 2019 annual total of 13,199,172. The 2020 total is now the highest annual total on record, exceeding the previous record of 15,700,471 set in 2016 by 34.3 percent. NSSF estimates that in 2020, over 8.4 million people purchased a gun for the first time, based on retailer surveys.
Please note: Twenty-five states currently 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 NSSF does not adjust for these transfers. Michigan had law changes that affected their Brady Law standing which removed qualifying alternate permits usage for firearm transactions. These changes went into effect March 3, 2020. NSSF-adjusted NICS for the state of Michigan in December 2020 were 124.7 percent higher than December 2019 which accounts for an additional 37,437 checks over the same time period.
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 as well as checks on active CCW permit databases. NSSF started subtracting permit rechecks in February 2016.
For additional information on NICS or to view a complete set of the current monthly reports, please visit the NICS website.