One of the best indicators of firearms sales, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System logged 3,602,296 checks in November, an increase of 41 percent over the figure of 2,545,863 for November 2019. In fact, it was the biggest November in the NICS program’s 21-year history.
However, when checks and rechecks for carry permits and the like are subtracted from that figure by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, leaving a more concrete number for over-the-counter checks on gun transfers conducted through federal firearms licensees, it yields 1,949,141 checks, which is an increase of 45.2 percent compared to the November 2019 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,342,155.
When added to the rest of the year, the 2020 running total stands at some 19.1 million adjusted checks, dwarfing the 2016 annual record of 15.7 million checks, and the year still has another month to go before the books are closed. Of those checks, NSSF estimates that a whopping 7.7 million came from new first-time gun buyers.
Part of the Brady Bill, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) went live at the tail-end of 1998 and since then they have processed 289 million checks. Most go through in under a minute.
I can remember working at a sporting good store for a few years moonlighting from my day job in my 20s and performing hundreds of checks in that time period. However, every now and then, you would get a “delay” while they are making a decision that requires more than a simple look-see. These come back later as either a “proceed” or a “denied.”
While there have been 1.5 million denials over the past 20 years, that doesn’t mean 1.5 million people who shouldn’t have a gun were kept from getting one.
In a lot of cases, guys with a spotty record will shop around and run a check several times over several years. Then again, there are a good many legit mixups, especially on people with common names. Odds are, if your name is Bill Johnson, there are probably a few prohibited firearms possessors that share your moniker, and it can jack up your profile– seems far-fetched but remember, this is the federal government here.
A lot of denials are appealed by those who were told to buzz off and, when the FBI eventually figures out where the mistake is, they fix it and the person gets greenlighted to buy a gun.
The problem is, appeals for denials have been glacial since 2015 due to understaffing at NICS, which means people who were refused for no reason can’t often get their record corrected.
I spoke with a pair of lawyers representing five plaintiffs (and 100 more pending) in a federal lawsuit who are in just a such a pickle. In covering the case for Guns.com, I have gotten several emails from readers who have similar problems, leading me to think this may be more widespread than people know.
More on the case here
The number of National Firearm Act items saw a huge jump in the past year — including a 50 percent increase in suppressor registration and 39 percent bump in short-barreled rifles registered — according to new data released by federal regulators.
The report provides an overview of the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, which is the federal list of all items, such as suppressors, SBRs, short-barreled shotguns, destructive devices and any other weapons logged under the NFA as of April, and updates figures released in February 2016.
In the 14-month period between reports, the total number of NFA items of all kinds has climbed to 5,203,489 — an overall increase of more than 800,000 items.
While the numbers of AOW’s, machine guns and SBSs all saw negligible increases, the biggest jumps in the 14-month interlude came in the numbers of registered SBRs and suppressors.
More in my column at Guns.com
So you have no doubt heard me talk about the Hearing Protection Act which would eliminate the $200 transfer tax on suppressors by dropping them from NFA rules, but still requires they should be transferred through federal firearms licensees after a background check, regulating them as firearms.
It’s got a ton of sponsors in the House ( 150+, including some Dems) but is likely to stall in the Senate where it only has enough for a serious card game and needs 60.
Well, with that in mind, last week the SHUSH (Silencers Helping Us Save Hearing) Act dropped which would not only remove suppressors from National Firearms Act requirements — a goal of the rival Hearing Protection Act — but also classify them as simple accessories which could be sold over the counter, just like magazines, or butt stocks, or just scopes. It seems odd after more than 80 years of NFA regulation, but that’s how they are sold in the UK and several other countries with gun laws more strict than ours.
Gun control groups don’t know whether to shit or go blind, saying every crook and killer in the future will have a hushable gatt– but in all honesty, you can make an illegal suppressor today from common household items anyway and they are rarely (ATF says ~30 cases in 2015) used in crime, so I’m not sure how factual that argument holds.
Anyway, more on the SHUSH Act in my column at Guns.com
And this great bit from A Scanner Darkly (who doesn’t love PKD) below, and case in point as to why you don’t want to try and suppress the average revolver.
Cutaway of the Maxim Model 15 “silencer” on a 1903 mockup.
Since 1934, the federal government has treated devices designed to muffle or suppress the report of firearms as Title II devices that required registration under the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record and mandated transfers that included a $200 tax stamp. The HPA would repeal this requirement and treat suppressors as firearms – which would allow them to be transferred through regular federal firearms license holders to anyone not prohibited from possessing them after the buyer passes an FBI instant background check.
We spoke with industry insiders about the Hearing Protection Act on the eve of the 146th National Rifle Association Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Atlanta last week, who argued the measure has a fighting chance.
More in my column at Guns.com
With signs that a historic swell in gun sales and associated background checks may be tapering, the federal government may soon tackle a logjam of denial appeals.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System is currently working voluntary appeals dating back to August 2015 — for individuals denied 18 months ago. However, it hasn’t always been like that. In September 2015, the average delay was three months.
The change came when the nearly 70 examiners dedicated to appeals were reassigned to assist in running initial criminal background checks because of surges in gun sales in October 2015. Since then the delay has grown, despite executive action to expand NICS’s workforce to meet increasingly robust sales figures, leaving appeals to stagnate.
But that could all be changing.
More in my column at Guns.com.
A bill that would remove suppressors and silencers from National Firearm Act regulations is picking up momentum on Capitol Hill.
The Duncan-Carter Hearing Protection Act was introduced by GOP sponsors U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina and Rep. John Carter of Texas last month and aims to deregulate suppressors as a safety measure to help promote their use in protecting hearing. Enrolled as H.R. 367, the measure picked up its 100th co-sponsor last week.
More in my column at Guns.com.
Whelp, back from the annual gathering of the gun tribes in Las Vegas. Saw some interesting things. Did some interesting things. I think the biggest stories, besides the new SIG M17, is was the Hudson H9 and the SilencerCo Maxim 9.
Prefaced by a quiet build up over the past few weeks via social media, the H9 melds a full-sized 9mm semi-auto to a striker-fired pistol with a crisp 1911 trigger that has a .115-inch travel. But the innovative handgun with its cyberpunk panache didn’t just hatch fully formed from an egg last month.
Then there is the Maxim. The pistol, a 9mm that accepts double-stack Glock 17 magazines, can be arranged in either a short or a long configuration– both of which are suppressed. The difference in length between the two options is about an inch, with the full-size configuration measuring 10.75-inches overall and the abbreviated one taping out at 9.54-inches, which is about an inch longer than a standard 1911. Weight varies between 37-39 ounces.
More in the video below and in this piece in my column over at Guns.com.
With the possible removal of silencers/suppressors from National Firearms Act control, a number of legal questions around the devices emerge.
The current mechanism for change, H.R.3799 — the Hearing Protection Act — is stuck in the U.S. House but would likely see a stronger reboot in the next Congress in 2017. If a new bill gains enough momentum to make it through Capitol Hill and onto the waiting desk of President Trump, it would leave a few things undecided if signed into law with its current language.
I spoke with Adam Kraut, an attorney specializing in Second Amendment rights and NFA issues in particular, about just what could be in store.
More in my column at Guns.com.
Firing the 03 Springfield with the Maxim silencer, 1910. From left to right Hiram Maxim, Lieut. Col. Richard J. Goodman, and Capt. Earl D Church
A Republican trifecta in Washington next year will likely see action on a bill to remove firearm suppressors from National Firearms Act regulation after 82 years.
The Hearing Protection Act was introduced last October by U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., and currently has 78 bipartisan co-sponsors from 34 states. Since then, the HPA has been among the top 10 most-viewed bills on Congress.gov almost every week since it was introduced.
However, with a slim Republican majority in the Senate unable to override a near-certain veto from President Obama, the bill has been in doldrums.
Now, with the White House under new management next year, advocates for the measure feel signs are looking up and will likely return to the next Congress with a fresh mandate.
“Imagine for a second that we lived in a world where you had to pay a $200 tax to buy a pair of earplugs,” Knox Williams, president of the American Suppressor Association, the industry trade group for the devices, told me on Wednesday. “Now, imagine that even after paying that tax you still had to wait 8 months before you could bring your earplugs home with you. As silly as that sounds, it’s the world we live in with suppressors in the NFA.”
Maybe not any more…
(More in my column at Guns.com)