Despite the astounding amount of background checks conducted, estimates sales through the first half of the year exceeded 6.1 million, which actually represents a 3.5 percent decline over 2017.

The FBI processed 13.1 million background check applications through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) between January 1 and June 30, according to this story on This is up 5 percent from 2017, and only 5 percent behind 2016—which was the busiest year on record.

Though NICS checks are required to purchase a new firearm, they aren’t the only reason they are run. They may be conducted periodically to maintain a license in some states, when an individual applies for a concealed carry permit, or other circumstances including rentals or as a condition of employment, and therefore don’t equate to guns sold in a given time frame.

Since 2016’s record sales, federal data shows that these types of checks have increased overall, meaning a bigger chunk of the monthly NICS totals don’t represent gun sales this year.

Despite the decline, there was an uptick in sales coming on the heels of the Parkland shooting and the ensuing gun control debate in the nation.

It’s also the time frame that some banks and big-box stores signaled changes to their firearm policies, despite no nationwide changes to gun ordinances, as this story from illustrates. Only time will tell how the rest of the year in gun sales will progress.