Some Big Numbers


Gunshops are still busy this year and sales, though down from 2020, remain brisk.

I did a little snooping around on the FBI’s website, and we found an interesting section headlined “NICS Firearm Checks: Month/Year by State.”

We’ll just throw out some impressive numbers. During the first six months of this year, according to this chart, Kentucky rolled up a whopping 1,651,442 NICS checks initiated. Texas was trailing slightly with 1,062,416 checks, and Florida posted 933,434 checks. Another busy state was California, where 769,591 NICS checks were initiated, while Michigan saw a healthy 545,526.

Regardless of how one does the math or adjusts the data, this translates to a lot of firearms being sold even if only half of the totals translate to a gun transaction.

One number that gave me a chuckle was for Wyoming. During the first half of this year, only 45,201 NICS checks were initiated, according to the data. This just tells us that most everyone in the Cowboy State already has plenty of guns, and maybe they don’t figure they need to buy more. Just be careful if you try to start a riot or stage a holdup in Cheyenne or Laramie, Sheridan, Buffalo, Gillette or Cody.

FBI/NICS chart


We’ve been a busy bunch during the first half of 2021, as reflected in the raw number of background checks initiated with the FBI’s National Instant Check System (NICS), according to data posted by the agency.

Of course, not all NICS checks translate to gun sales. The National Shooting Sports Foundation offers monthly “NSSF Adjusted” NICS numbers—and even the FBI explains this when the agency posts its monthly data online. Many background checks are related to carry permit/license applications.

That said, the first six months of 2021 were very busy for the NICS system, with each month except June outpacing the same month during 2020, which was a boom year for gun sales.

January’s NICS checks totaled 4,317,804 as opposed to the 2,702,702 initiated checks in January 2020. February’s number was down (3,442,777) but it was still more robust than the number of NICS checks initiated during that month last year (2,802,467).

March saw a real uptick with 4,691,738 NICS checks initiated, compared to the 3,740,688 during March 2020. This was followed by April’s 3,514,070 NICS checks this year, while the same month in 2020 saw 2,911,128 NICS checks.

May’s report was down slightly from April, with 3,222,105 initiated NICS checks, according to the FBI chart. Last year’s May raw count was 3,091,455. It was only in June where NICS checks fell behind last year’s number, 3,054,726 as opposed to 3,931,607 in June 2020.

But here’s the punch line: The first half of this year shows a whopping 22,243,220 total NICS checks initiated, and that stacks up to the 39,695,315 NICS checks done during the entire 12 months of 2020. If the country continues on this pace for the second half of this year, we’re in for a new record. On the other hand, if the monthly number continues to gradually decline, maybe we’ll see a year-end total comparable to last year’s.

More than 625,000 people in Washington are licensed to carry,
and that’s just a small segment of America’s legally-armed citizens.

More Interesting Numbers

I receive monthly updates from the Washington Department of Licensing regarding the number of active concealed pistol licenses in the Evergreen State.

Washington is considered a “blue” state because of the lopsided number of Seattle and I-5 corridor who vote, as opposed to the number of conservatives.

For more than a year, law enforcement agencies “suspended” taking applications for CPLs, even though there is no provision for doing so in state statute. A couple of months ago, things opened up again and in addition to processing CPL renewals, which many agencies had been doing because that process doesn’t require fingerprinting, a decline in the number of active licenses had been reversed…dramatically.

A bit of perspective is necessary. In April 2020, the state reported more than 650,000 active CPLs, about one of every ten adults in the state. By April 2021, that number had declined to 619,398. May and June saw that number climb back by 7,063 active licenses, an average of just over 3,530 per month, and that’s no small feat. The number has bounced back up to 626,461 CPLs in circulation.

In 2020, according to the raw NICS data mentioned above, Washington saw 781,471 initiated NICS checks, and this year, the numbers look to be up. In January 2020, the raw NICS number was 49,714, while January of this year logged 73,369 NICS checks. February 2020 saw 48,418 checks initiated and this year, February’s number was 61,409.

March of last year recorded 75,529 checks (corresponding with the beginning of the state COVID-19 shutdown) and this past March saw 74,860 checks. In April 2020, there were 57,922 NICS checks initiated, and this year there were 68,676 in April. May 2020 shows 53,922 initiated checks and May of this year the number jumped slightly to 56,038 checks. June of last year—at the height of violent demonstrations in Seattle—Washington reported a whopping 73,517 NICS checks initiated, and this year that number has dropped to 53,104.

According to the NSSF, their adjusted number for June background checks related to gun transactions was down 41.3 percent from those reported for June 2020.

Here’s An Educational Pastime

Want to learn something, while gathering information that can help win arguments about the effectiveness of gun control laws, especially background checks?

Go to Google and type “Charged with felon in possession” and see what happens. I immediately found 10 stories from Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Mississippi, New Jersey, Minnesota and Iowa. The common thread in all of these reports is that somebody had a gun—or several guns—in violation of multiple laws prohibiting convicted felons from having hardware. One of these guys was only 22 years old, and if he is convicted, he could go to prison for up to 10 years.

In one case out of Newark, N.J., a 42-year-old male identified as Lamont West pled guilty in federal court to one count of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey.

This case dates back to October 2016 when Newark Police learned West was hiding in a hotel in Harrison. He was wanted in connection with another case. He was arrested and when officers conducted a search with a warrant, they found a .45-caliber pistol, two spare magazines, about 730 “glassine envelopes of heroin mixed with fentanyl” and other drug paraphernalia.

The bottom line is state legislatures can pass whatever gun laws they want, and criminals will find ways to break them.

‘The Fridge Fired First!’

A man in Yakima, Washington may have taken weird to a new level recently when he opened fire on a refrigerator after a can of soda exploded, apparently convincing our hero someone was shooting at him.

When Yakima’s finest showed up, according to KOMO News, they found this gent in an alley outside of his home, his gun was lying in the road. He was reportedly “yelling incoherently.”

This sort of thing doesn’t often happen in Yakima, or anywhere else I have ever heard of, so the circumstances intrigued me. Yakima is in very warm south-central Washington on the east slope of the Cascades. It’s orchard and vineyard country, and a lot of people own firearms. They just don’t start capping off rounds at refrigerators, which is exactly what witnesses told the police.

The KOMO report said this model citizen told the cops he believed people living in the basement had actually tried to kill him, so when the pop can blew, he reflexively drew and returned fire.

There’s just one little problem with that story. Nobody lives in the basement, because there is no basement.

And about that gatt our trigger-happy fellow was so quick to use. He reportedly found it a couple of weeks earlier near the junction of an arterial and Highway 12. It was a brief few moments later police arrested this guy and booked him for investigation of “second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm” and for discharging a firearm.

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