More firearm-related background checks have been conducted this year than any other year on record and it could mean that December will see the most guns ever sold.
So far this year, excluding December, 19.7 million background checks have been initiated. That is over 775,000 more than any other year, including what Fortune reported to be a record-breaking Black Friday. Every month since May has seen a record number of checks, and December will likely be no different.
Although one check doesn’t necessarily translate into one firearm sold, NICS records represent trends in gun purchases.
Gun sales have been going up almost every year for the past decade, nearly doubling from 2007 to 2014. This year alone, they have increased every single month since June, and December is generally the biggest month for sales each year. Firearm sales also tend to rise following a mass shooting, such as the San Bernardino tragedy. Vox predicts that all of these factors will collide to result in the biggest month for gun sales on record.
The FBI records each time a background check is requested in order for an individual to purchase a gun or explosive through its National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). These records don’t account for rejected buyers, multiple guns purchased by a single buyer, or loopholes that circumvent the need for a background check. Although one check doesn’t necessarily translate into one firearm sold, NICS records represent trends in gun purchases.
Many attribute rising gun sales to rising discourse about gun control, especially thanks to the election year.