Amid all the establishment media chatter about a “Trump Slump” in gun sales, National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) Mike Bazinet says the evidence indicates 2017 could be the second or third highest year for background checks in the past two decades.
The “Trump Slump” mantra began after a 19-month run of record background checks ended the month after Trump’s election to office. December 2016 came in below record levels and the establishment media immediately began suggesting pro-gun voters had hurt the gun industry by voting for Trump.
The Guardian intimated this as recently as September 8, 2017, when reporting that a “‘Trump Slump’ in sales has meant a nearly $100m fall in firearms revenue compared with the same quarter last year.” They added, “American Outdoor Brands, the rebranded name of historic gun company Smith & Wesson, reported a 48.5% decrease in firearms revenue compared with the same quarter last year, when many Americans believed Hillary Clinton, a supporter of gun control, would be elected president.”
The problem with such a report is that 2016 was an off-the-charts, recording-breaking year in background checks for gun sales; one that may not be matched again for years (or decades) to come. So comparing this year’s industry figures to those in 2016 is an easy way to substantiate that this year’s sales are down compared to last year’s, but it is not an altogether fair juxtaposition.
For example, the December 2016 figures that came in low enough to end the 19-month record streak for background checks were still high enough to make December 2016 one of the top three Decembers of all time for background checks for gun sales. Breitbart News reported that background checks in December 2016 were only surpassed by December 2015 and 2012.
On September 11, 2017, Breitbart News spoke with NSSF’s Bazinet about the current state of gun sales in America and he said, “At the beginning of every month, we get calls from a handful of reporters, some of whom seize on the latest NICS release as the latest proof that the firearms industry is on a downward glide slope, in a “Trump slump” or some other formulation that fits their narrative. They don’t see what we see. Ranges are busy, there is a high demand for training and sales are still strong by historical standards. We are on track to see the second or third highest years since the NICS system began. Everyone in the industry knew that 2016 was record breaking and unsustainable. The sales declines we have seen in 2017 were predictable, but reports of the industry’s demise are greatly exaggerated.”
It is interesting to note that near the very end of the September 8 Guardian column, the paper does mention that “America’s gun companies are not doing poorly when compared with sales numbers [from years other than 2016].” The point is inescapable: the background check and firearm industry reports provided by Bazinet and NSSF researchers are far more accurate than the “Trump Slump” mantra.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at email@example.com