Jan. 1–May 30, 2021 recorded the strongest start to a calendar year on record in terms of NSSF-adjusted background checks, totaling 8,501,879. Despite being the second-most prolific June in the history of the NICS system with 1,279,300 checks, June 2021 was no match for June 2020’s total of 2,177,586 — resulting in a year-over-year (YOY) decrease of 41.3%. As a result, Jan. 1–June 30, 2020 remains the best start through the first half a calendar year with 10,292,725 NSSF-adjusted NICS background checks.
Under “normal” circumstances, a YOY decline in excess of 40% would be cause for concern, but June 2020 was a month unlike any other — marked by widespread social unrest and calls to “defund the police” centered around the George Floyd protests. Likewise, the last YOY drop to exceed 40 points was impacted by political events. Jan. 2014, background checks fell 45.8% from Jan. 2013 (970,510 from 1,790,154). President Obama signed 23 executive orders to “prevent gun violence” Jan. 16, 2013 — which then spurred a several-month run on elevated firearm sales.
For the Q2 2021, the NSSF-adjusted figure of 4,297,837 background checks reflects a 21.2% drop compared to Q2 2020 (5,451,599). However, this is the second-highest figure on record (as seen in the chart provided by NSSF, below). Dealers report sales remain brisk.