February continued the recent trend of gun-related background checks falling from record levels since former President Obama left office and President Trump was inaugurated.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) ran 2,234,817 checks in February, according to FBI documents. That’s a retreat of nearly 400,000 checks from last February.
The slowing but still historically high sales levels come on the heels of the highest year in history for gun sales. The FBI processed more than 27.5 million NICS checks in 2016. That’s millions more than the previous record set in 2015.
NICS checks are widely considered the most reliable metric for how many guns were sold in a given time period since they are required on nearly all sales conducted by licensed dealers and between private parties in some states. They are not, however, an exact measure of actual sales because most states don’t require NICS checks on sales between private parties, and more than one gun can be sold during a single check.