(Forbes) – Why Gun Sales Boomed In June

Guns are not perishable items. Kept in good repair a firearm lasts generations. So how is it that gun sales continue to set records when more than 100 million American gun owners already have over 300 million guns?

Last month, for example, was the busiest June for gun sales ever. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for firearms manufacturers, says gun dealers completed 886,825 background checks in June 2015. The NSSF follows the FBI-administered National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) closely. Each time someone wants to buy a gun from a licensed dealer their name must be called into the FBI’s NICS database (or, in some cases, a state-operated database) to check if that person is barred from possessing a gun. The NSSF said the number of NICS checks last June was “the highest” on record “for the 17-year-old [NICS] system.” It was an increase of 10.1 percent over June 2014.

Now, some news reports say this jump in sales is all about gun owners’ fears about more gun control coming in the wake of the horrific attack on parishioners on June 17 at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The thing is this can’t be the whole story because in May 2015 some 918,707 background checks were called into the FBI’s database, making it the second-highest May ever.

For a deeper explanation I contacted Jim Curcuruto, director, industry research & analysis for the NSSF. He said, “Background checks were up over 19 percent in South Carolina, as compared to the previous June, but that one state isn’t enough to make the NICS checks jump 10 percent nationally. So, after making a lot of calls, we found that some of the bump was related to sales and other deals at retail chains. Some percentage of the rise in sales was definitely related to fear of more gun control. There are also typically spikes in sales regionally after something occurs that prompts people to look for ways to protect their own lives. But there has also been a steady rise in gun sales for some time. So there were multiple factors involved.”

Of course, we’re talking about NICS checks here, not actual gun sales. Just because someone undergoes a background check doesn’t mean they necessarily purchased a gun; also, someone could buy multiple guns after a single background check. This is why NICS is seen only as an indicator of the volume of gun sales.

Now, I started by asking why gun sales continue to set records when more than 100 million American gun owners already have over 300 million guns? This probably had a lot of gun aficionados asking, “What, the average gun owner only has three guns?”

Guns, you see, are heirlooms, works of art, and practical tools used for sport, self-defense and hunting. As works of art or tools—or both—guns have a specific purposes. Hunters will have a specific gun or guns for big game, for upland birds, for waterfowl and so on. Those who are into the shooting sports will find their collection expanding as they mature and try new sports. Those looking for self-defense guns will try new carry guns and more as technology and design adds options. As for collectors, well, by definition they just can’t get enough. So it’s actually not all that helpful to compare the number of guns in private hands to the number of gun owners.

Also on Forbes:

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