No matter how one looks at the National Instant Check System (NICS) data for March, last month saw a stunning rush on gun stores with what appears to have been a lot of first-time gun buyers in the mix, and now the question will be whether the trend continues for April.
According to data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the NSSF-adjusted figure of 2,375,525 NICS checks was “an increase of 80.4 percent compared to the March 2019 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,317,114.
The unadjusted NICS figure for last month reflected a 42.4 percent increase over the same month last year.
It is a pattern that has been seen previously during a national emergency.
Both the FBI, which operates the NICS system, and NSSF are quick to note that there is not a one-to-one correlation between NICS checks and firearm sales, but the trade group does explain the data provide “an additional picture of current market conditions.”
But the news isn’t all positive. In addition to Washington state, where law enforcement agencies have suspended taking first-time applications for concealed pistol licenses, Ammoland is reporting problems in Florida. There, according to the online publication, there has been a slowdown in accepting applications for concealed weapon licenses, and some people are blaming Agriculture Secretary Nikki Fried, a Democrat, accusing her of “disrupting the…program.”
Jeff Hinkle, Okaloosa County Republican Party chair, sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, in which he asserted, “Commissioner Fried is using the Pandemic to forward her liberal agenda of chipping away at Floridians’ Second Amendment rights and it has to stop.”
A Republican candidate for a House legislative seat, also complained to DeSantis, alleging, “Commissioner Fried is using an administrative loophole to keep hundreds, if not thousands, of Florida citizens from their right to safety.”
The problem in Washington isn’t a state agency, but with local law enforcement agencies not accepting new CPL applications because they have curtailed services under the ongoing Coronavirus shutdown. Renewals are still being processed.
While gun stores in Washington were not listed as “essential” by Gov. Jay Inslee, and therefore are among “non-essential” businesses that should close, there appears to be widespread defiance among gun store operators. Some shops are open while others are closed or have curtailed operations.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee extended the shut-down through May 4. If police agencies continue suspending CPL applications through that date, it will have been about two months during which an untold number of people had their rights delayed, say critics. Presently, there are more than 650,000 active CPS in Washington state. Florida has more than 2 million active licenses.