The number of National Instant Check System (NICS) requests conducted by the FBI has doubled nationwide in the past 10 years, according to the bureau. During those same ten year, violent crime has steadily declined in the USA.
While the FBI does not track actual gun sales, the increase in NICS requests indicates a growing number of gun owners in the United States. In 2002, there were 8.5 million checks performed, but that number has spiked to 16.8 million in 2012.
Many attribute the rise in checks to the growing popularity of hunting and other gun-recreation uses, according to an article in USA Today. The list of reasons why this number is growing includes:
- State laws loosening their restrictions on carrying concealed handguns, such as a recent repeal on a ban Illinois;
- concerns of future laws restricting certain weapons;
- an expectation that the Obama administration will propose stricter gun-control laws;
- a concern for personal safety after a spate of deadly shootings nationwide.
Hunting is believed to be one of the biggest reasons the number of NICS requests are growing. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey in August reported that spending on hunting equipment grew by nearly 30 percent.
The purchase of guns goes against the slow down of the economy. As the economy worsens, gun sales go up. Many also bought more guns thinking that crime would go up as the economy takes a turn for the worse.
While NICS does not keep track of actual gun sales, the number of guns purchased may be even higher than checks since multiple guns can be purchased in one transaction.