NICS Totals Are In: Biggest Summer Since 1998

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Data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation suggest that gun sales in the U.S. rose sharply in August in the wake of renewed calls for stricter gun control.

The FBI processed 1.7 million NICS background checks on gun buyers at federally licensed dealers, according to this story from That's the highest number of checks in the month of August since NICS was created in 1998, according to the NY Daily News. Not only that, but June 2015 (1.5 million) and July 2015 (1.6 million) also broke respective monthly NICS check records.

It's worth noting that the 1.7 million figure for August, or any of the monthly NICS check numbers, don't necessarily correlate to gun sales, as it does not indicate how many checks resulted in rejections, or the fact that a person can buy multiple firearms during one transaction.

"Whenever there is a call for gun control, sales increase," Larry Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told USA Today. "Unfortunately, this is a pattern that repeats itself."

The surge in NICS checks isn't as intense as the one that followed the Newtown, Connecticut shooting in 2012, but is more comparable to the period just before the 1994 adoption of the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2014.

Keane also told USA Today that the legislative proposals commonly offered in the emotional wake of fatal shooting often don't account for the specific circumstances leading up to a given incident.

"These things are being offered up before the person is even arrested or before (investigators) even know what happened," he said. "For people concerned about their Second Amendment rights, the concern never goes away."

He added that gun purchases that follow calls for new restrictions are "certainly legitimate to the person exercising their fundamental civil liberties…the concern that anti-gun politicians are seeking to inference and restrict the right to keep and bear arms is very real and well-founded."

In the story, Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said there is risk during periods of increased sales when all purchases are not covered by background checks.

"When gun sales rise, more and more weapons find a set of dangerous hands to call home," Gross said. "There are people in this country, people like felons, fugitives, and domestic abusers, who we all agree simply should not have guns."

Gross did not go on to explain what he meant by his statement, implying that a larger volume of sales means gun shops ignore laws or become too overwhelmed to conduct background checks on gun sales.