Mike Weisser: The NRA Is In Denial About The Slowdown In Gun Sales
Last week Gun-nut Nation once again celebrated the mistaken belief that gun sales have not slowed down under Trump. Here’s the headline from NRA-ILA: April Background Checks: Strong Numbers Continue. The story then goes on to say:
While some who write headlines for a living may want you to believe we’re in a “funk” in firearms sales since President Obama left the White House, that shortsighted view neglects to consider that April 2017 was the second busiest April ever for NICS and the 21st busiest month of all time. There were only about 100,000 fewer background checks last month than in April 2016.
So here’s the question: Does the NRA staff member who writes this nonsense ever bother to actually look at the data which he so wrongfully describes? Or does he assume that everyone who reads what he writes will take what he says on blind faith? It must be the latter because the statement above gives an impression about the state of the gun industry under #45 which is simply not true. And I don’t mean ‘not true’ in a vague sense as if I’m quibbling over the meaning of a word here or there; I mean ‘not true’ as totally and completely false.
Take the trouble to download the background check numbers (just scroll to the bottom of the linked page.) You’ll discover that the only correct statement in the NRA-ILA story is the number of total checks conducted in April – 2,045,564 – which has little, if anything to do with gun sales at all. Oops ― turns out that even the number is wrong, because the actual bottom-line for the April report was 2,037,180, but I’m not going to quibble over 8,000 calls here or there.
On the other hand, to the extent that FBI-NICS background checks represent how many guns were added to the civilian arsenal, despite the fact that NICS doesn’t differentiate between new and used guns and most non-dealer transfers still aren’t covered by the NICS, the total number of guns whose ownership was first proceeded by a background check was 1,060,322. That number represents half the background checks conducted by the FBI last month, the other half were license checks, pawn-shop redemptions and private transfers, a number that was averaging less than 2,000 monthly in 2016 and is now over 3,000 background checks every month.
Not only have more than half the total background checks conducted since January 1, 2017 been for something other than a gun purchased over the counter, but NRA brouhaha to the contrary, background checks for gun sales continue to slide down. Gun sales always slow a bit in April because the yard needs work and then sales drop off even more from May through August because guns can’t compete with the beach. But the March to April drop-off in 2016 was around 12 percent, this year sales from March to April slumped 22 percent. For January-April, 2016, total NICS gun checks were 4,950,000 (I’m rounding off,) for the same period this year gun checks were 4,500,000, a drop of 10 percent, with handgun checks declining by 17 percent.
That’s the good news about gun sales. Now here’s the bad news. This market loss by the gun industry will no doubt result in a more aggressive campaign to make consumers believe they should all own guns. Which means more appeals to fear, more appeals to fake patriotism, more attempts to promote phony ideas about 2nd-Amendment “rights.”
If you think the attempt to remove silencers from Class 3 restrictions is something, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The NRA is running a message on how animal-rights “perverts” have “declared war” on anyone who wants to hunt. Wait until you see what they will pull out when it gets time to push the national concealed-carry bill.
But the scare tactics won’t work for the simple reason that most people still don’t believe they need to own a gun. Unless, of course, Trump blurts out something positive about controlling guns. Think that can’t happen? You don’t know Trump.