January Background Checks Down 25 Percent from Previous Year

Fewer than 980,000 NICS checks performed last month compared to 1.3 million the previous January

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 3, 2017) – Newly released numbers from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS) show a decrease in January background checks performed for handgun, long gun, multiple, other, and private sales. In those categories, only 979,047 checks were performed in January 2017 compared to 1,304,703 in January 2016 — a 25 percent drop.  

The number of NICS checks in December 2016 was also significantly lower than in December 2015. Last month, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (Ed Fund) declined to speculate about the reasons for this decrease; however, January’s numbers show continuation of this trend. Interestingly, the number of NICS checks in November 2016 was slightly higher than in November 2015.

“While NICS checks tend to decrease in the new year, it is interesting to see such a significant change from one January to the next,” said Ed Fund Executive Director Josh Horwitz.  “We don’t yet know whether the decrease is due to the change in administration, but we will continue to monitor this trend, explore possible contributing factors, and make the numbers known.”

Despite the lower numbers last December, 2016 as a whole had the highest number of NICS checks in those categories, over 14.9 million, as compared to prior years.

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