Report: Firearm background checks up 17.7% in 2011 - Record number tied to politics, economy

by Chad D. Baus

As regular readers of BuckeyeFirearms.org are aware, National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) firearms sales checks have seen a steady increase for more than a year. The Ohio media are now catching on to this trend as well, thanks to a Dayton Daily News article published on August 17.

From the article:

The record number of firearm background checks performed by the FBI this year signals that gun sales are on the rise in Ohio, an increase that gun-rights advocates and local store owners attribute largely to political and economic fears.

Meanwhile, even though the number of concealed handgun licenses issued to Miami Valley residents fell in 2010, firearm groups said 2009 was a record year and the popularity of carrying continues to trend upward.

During the first seven months of this year, the FBI conducted 247,847 background checks for firearm purchases at gun sellers in the state, up 17.7 percent from the same period in 2010, 9.2 percent from 2009 and 42.4 percent from 2008, according to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Background checks are one of the best measures of gun sales because federally licensed gun-sellers are required to perform them during a sale. Not all checks lead to purchases, but most do.

Andrew M. Molchan, director of the Professional Gun Retailers Association, told the DDN that gun sales have steadily increased nationwide in the last six years following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning gun bans in major cities, such as Chicago and Washington, D.C., on the grounds they violated the Second Amendment.

Nationally, FBI background checks for gun sales increased to 14.4 million in 2010 from 8.5 million in 2003, according to the FBI reporting system.

But Molchan said gun sales have also significantly increased in recent years because of widespread apprehension about issues including the country’s financial and political turmoil.

"Since late 2007, there has been growing apprehension that's still there," he said. "If it's there, firearm sales go up."

Gun-rights advocates said the election of President Barack Obama alarmed a lot of people because they believe the Democratic party is committed to restricting the rights of gun owners.

"If you look at the statistics on background checks, most of the increase started right around the 2008 election," said Ray, the co-owner of Gunsport in Centerville who declined to provide his last name. "It's due to the political environment and what the government might try to do to take their guns away."

The Daily News notes that in November 2008, the month Obama won the presidential election, the FBI performed 53,256 background checks for Ohio gun sellers, almost double the number from November 2007. That month set the record for background checks in the state and the nation.

Jim Irvine, chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said Obama's hostility toward gun rights has helped boost sales, but the country's economic troubles also have many people worried that violence similar to the riots in England could erupt stateside.

"Unemployment is very high, underemployment is very high, job stagnation and salaries are issues, and you look around the world — Greece, Italy and England for the last couple of weeks — there is always turmoil going on, and there is a growing feeling that we are going to have civil unrest in this country," Irvine said. "People want to be prepared."

The Ohio News Network is also covering the report:

"Whenever the political climate and the economic climate become concerning to individuals, generally that's going to up your firearms sales and your ammunition sales," said Linda Walker with the Buckeye Fireams Association.

Walker said that she's been packing heat since Ohio's concealed carry law went into effect in 2004.

"We have several guns because you can never have enough," Walker said.

Walker said that it's her constitutional right and if things go awry in our country and gun rights are restricted, ammunition will be worth its weight in gold.

However, the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence is firing back. They said that some people are encouraging civil unrest and encouraging people to buy and carry firearms.

"I think it is a mistake to talk about guns and their popularity without talk about the people that lost their lives to gun violence," said Executive Director Toby Hoover.
Walker said that working as a realtor with high unemployment and hard times, she feels safer being armed when she encounters the unknown every day.

"I can't carry a policeman around with me and my husband can't be with me all of the time to protect me," Walker said. "So it's up to me to be prepared if and when I become a victim."

The Associated Press has also picked up on this report, which will subsequently appear in dozens of news outlets across the Buckeye State and beyond.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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