GunsTexas Gun Sales Remain High, Decline Slightly from Record Highs in 2020

Background check numbers indicate that gun sales are still higher than 2019, but declining from the record highs seen over the last year.
July 22, 2021
Firearm background check data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indicates that gun purchases and License to Carry (LTC) applications are higher than they were two years ago, but declining from the record highs set throughout 2020.

National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) checks totaled 713,000 for the first half of 2019, reached 1.15 million in the same time period of 2020, and declined slightly to 1.06 million through the end of June this year.

Nationally, background checks have continued to rise from 13.7 million in the first half of 2019 to 19 million in 2020, to 22 million this year.

A dip in background checks — by 36.7 percent in Texas and 20.8 percent nationally — occurred in February, the same month that Texas grappled with a statewide freeze that resulted in widespread power outages for days on end.

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The numbers rose again in March — by 65.6 percent in Texas and 36.8 percent nationally — but have since declined back down to around the February levels.

In the most recent months available, all types of background checks in Texas — for LTC applications, handgun purchases, and long gun purchases — are higher than the 2019 levels but lower than the 2020 levels.

The sharpest difference from last year is the number of background checks conducted for handgun purchases during the month of June.

After the George Floyd protests in 2020, NICS checks for handguns in Texas rocketed to a high of 122,000.

Year over year, that specific total for June declined by 42 percent to 71,000 total handgun checks, though still up notably from June 2019’s total of 38,000.

Though the state legislature approved constitutional carry this year, which beginning in September will allow individuals to carry a handgun in public without an LTC, the number of background checks conducted for permit applications still went up to 31,000 in June from 25,000 in June 2019.

In June of last year, 41,000 NICS checks were conducted for LTC applications.

A NICS check is required in Texas for obtaining an LTC or purchasing firearms from a federally licensed dealer where most gun sales take place, though LTC holders do not need to wait on another background check when purchasing a gun.


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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.

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