Last Updated on
Gun sales have slowed in the months following President Trump’s election, which appears to have calmed fears that the government could take action to make buying a gun more difficult.
Background checks on gun purchases declined in January for the second consecutive month, according to FBI data released on Friday, falling by nearly 20 percent compared to the same period last year.
A total of 2,043,184 background checks were processed through the bureau’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System in January, compared to 2,545,802 in January 2016.
The January decline comes after 19 straight months of record year-over-year increases under the Obama administration, from May 2015 through November 2016.
Annual records were set in each of the final two years of President Obama’s tenure, with 23 million background checks conducted in 2015 and 27 million last year.
While the number of background checks processed by the FBI system indicates a trend in firearm sales, it doesn’t provide a precise figure for the number of firearms actually sold.
Licensed dealers are required to run a check on every individual who seeks to purchase a firearm, but buyers are sometimes turned down, and they sometimes purchase more than one firearm.
The final two months of each year also tend to be the best for gun sales, and 2016 was no exception. More than 2.5 million background checks were conducted in November and more than 2.7 million in December.
Still, that marginal increase between months contrasts from past years, which have seen gun sales spike around the holiday shopping season.
More than 2.3 million checks were conducted in December 2014, an increase of more than 500,000 from the previous month, and more than 3.3 million checks were conducted in December 2015, an increase of more than 1 million.
Experts attribute the decline in year-over-year sales to a surge in demand for guns before the November election. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee that most forecasts predicted would win, had campaigned aggressively for stricter limits on purchasing firearms.
Demand for hunting equipment has remained stable, experts say.
“Ammunition sales are as expected for this time of the year compared to years past,” said Scott Blick, a managing partner at Ammunition Depot, told The Hill.
“We saw a very large surge in buying heading into the election,” he said. “Handgun calibers like 9mm have been steady, but sales of .223/5.56 have slowed since the election.”
“Industry contacts tell us this is the pattern they are seeing with firearms as well. Handguns are strong along with hunting rifles, whereas ARs are slower, likely due to the large amount of purchases made in the run-up to the election.”