Available statistics show that the upward trend continues.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports that the number of background checks for firearms conducted through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) increased from 3.3 million national checks conducted in October to 3.6 million in November.
In Texas, the number of NICS checks increased from 192,000 in October to 197,000.
While the state saw a decline in the number of checks for License to Carry (LTC) applications, down from 58,000 to 44,000, the number for long gun sales increased from 45,000 to 56,000.
Checks for handgun sales also increased from 73,000 to 78,000.
Similar changes were seen at the national level.
Both the high state and national totals for the month have set a new record for the number of NICS checks conducted in November.
Year-to-date, the nation has seen a total of 35.4 million checks, up by about 10 million or 41 percent from 2019.
Even though permit rechecks are not included in the NICS data for Texas — something that accounted for a third of the increase in the country — gun-related background checks in the Lone Star State have blown up at an even faster rate than the nation as a whole.
At the end of November 2019, 1.3 million checks had been conducted in the state. This year, that number has reached 2.1 million — a 62 percent increase.
Notably, while the national number of permit checks decreased from 6.1 million in 2019 to 5.5 million this year, the opposite has been seen in Texas, where background checks for LTC applications have increased from 323,000 to 476,000.
Data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) estimates that there are 6.2 million new first-time gun owners this year, with most buying handguns for self-defense purposes.
The high demand for more gun purchases and carry permits comes at a time when the supply of firearms and ammunition is already strained.
Gun sellers say that when the coronavirus lockdowns were first implemented earlier this year, many of the mines and factories in the production lines were temporarily closed.
Last month during an earnings call, Vista Outdoor CEO Chris Metz said that the company had a backlog for “over a year’s worth of orders for ammunition in excess of $1 billion.”
“With demand far outstripping supply and inventory levels in the channel at all-time lows, we see strong demand continuing, and this metric informs our viewpoint of what a recovery or normalization could look like,” said Metz.
Gun industry analysts project that a Biden-Harris administration next year would heighten demand for more firearms and ammunition, even if Republicans maintain control of the Senate and gun control legislation proves difficult to pass.
On top of the backlogs in orders, ammunition may continue to be in short supply for some time to come.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.