Despite countless efforts by politicians of all stripes to suppress access to guns in the U.S., there were more firearm-related background checks conducted by the FBI in 2016 than in any other year in history, which could indicate more gun sales than ever before.
Following record-setting sales in November, the bureau's National Instant Background Check System (NICS) processed a total of 24,767,514 background checks over the past year, pushing the number more than 160,000 above the last yearly record, which was set in 2015.
"Reports of the industry’s demise were greatly exaggerated by the liberal anti-gun media," Larry Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told the Free Beacon.
News of the all-time high yearly record comes after a chart-topping month in November, when the NICS processed an impressive 2,561,281 background checks, which is nearly 320,000 more than the previous record set in November 2015.
The boom in gun sales toward the end of the year is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the holiday upswing is expected to extend into December, which historically outperforms every other month of the year when it comes to NICS checks.
However, while counting the total NICS checks is the most accurate way to estimate the number of guns sold in the U.S., it is not infallible because, unlike federally licensed firearms dealers, many states don't require private sellers in the used market to go through the FBI's system.
So an exact number is not known, which the NCIS acknowledged in its report:
These statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold. Based on varying state laws and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.
Many gun rights advocates credit President Barack Obama for their selling success, dubbing the commander in chief the greatest gun salesman in the country. Nearly every time Democrats have proposed sweeping gun control reform, firearm sellers enjoy a significant uptick in sales.
"Tremendous, literally tremendous," Bob Irwin, owner of The Gun Store in Las Vegas, told CNN in January, after Obama delivered a speech on expanding background checks. "It started with San Bernardino but Obama has just added to it. We can't keep guns in stock. Some of our major wholesalers are basically out of all the stuff that sells."
And clearly, the "tremendous" sales aren't slowing down at all. On the day after Thanksgiving, the NICS processed so many background checks — 185,713 — that it's likely enough guns were sold on Black Friday to arm all of the U.S. Marine Corps.