are gun sales down under president trump?

are gun sales down under president trump?

One of the favorite tactics of the “gun control” extremists for the past eight years or so is to decry pro-rights activists as “racists”, and use the massive uptick of firearm sales during and immediately prior to Obama’s administration as “proof”.  I cannot say as though I understand that rationale myself, especially since both then-Senator and then-President Obama are on record as wanting to ban semi-automatic firearms, ban handguns, ban firearms based on aesthetic features, ban lawful carry of firearms, and so forth – you know, the kinds of things that would prompt people to purchase something before it became unavailable – but the “gun control” movement has never been big on logic.

In any case, now that Obama is no longer in office, the “gun control” extremists are using the supposedly decreased firearm sales as further “proof” of the “racist” nature of the pro-rights advocates, as well as “proof” that firearm owners are a “dying breed”, and on, and on, and on.

But are gun sales actually down?  

The answer to that question is, “Given predictable, seasonal trends, not particularly.”

First, there is no 100% reliable metric for the number of firearms sold at Federal Firearm Licensees (i.e. gun stores).  Yes, the FBI does publish the number of National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks performed every month, but the caveat at the bottom of that PDF is very important:

These statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold. Based on varying state laws and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.

For example, in North Carolina, if one has a Concealed Handgun Permit in good standing, a purchaser still has to fill out a Form 4473, but no NICS check must be performed.  Likewise, there is no limit to the number of firearms that can be purchased on a single NICS check, so one check can be one firearm, or one check can be a hundred.

All that said, most parties – both in the “gun control” camp and in the pro-rights camp – consider NICS checks to be at least an indicator of how the firearm sales market is doing.  Just bear in mind that it is not an accounting of actual sales, and does not even provide an actual floor for the numbers.

Second, how do you quantify “down”?

If one looks at the average monthly NICS checks for the past four Presidents, you will see that President Trump is actually in the lead:

AverageMonthlyNICS

But that is not a strictly fair comparison, since he has only had four months in office, while Obama had 96 (for the sake of simplicity, despite United States Presidents being inaugurated on the 20th of January, I am counting their time in office from the first of February to the 31st of January, since the data is provided on a by-month basis).

So what about the actual number of NICS checks per month?

NICSChecksByMonth

So a few things stand out on this chart.

On the one hand, firearms are apparently a very popular Christmas gift, and the NICS checks reflect this seasonal nature.

On the other hand, there has been an almost steady increase in NICS checks since 2002 – seven years before Obama took office.

On the gripping hand, yes, NICS checks did peak out at 3,314,594 in December of 2015, and, likewise, are now at 1,942,677 in May of 2017.

The problem with simply calling out those two months, however, is that it is blatant cherry-picking.  It is true that the peak checks in Obama’s presidency is higher than the lowest checks in President Trump’s time in office, but that does not even come close to telling us if the total checks are down under the new President.

For example, as I said previously, there is an obvious seasonal nature to NICS checks, with December almost invariably being “high season”, and May or June typically being the “low season”.  In fact, if one looks at the percentage drop from the peak month in one year to the low month in the following year, you will see that President Trump’s May is doing better than average, and, in fact, the second-largest seasonal drop happened during Obama’s administration:

NICSPercentageDrop

Likewise, note that this past May – likely either the low month for this year, or close to it – still had more checks than any May before it.

The fact is, firearm sales have been massively trending upwards for the past 14 years.  Given that the trend started well before an African-American President, and given that the President in question was adamantly and openly anti-rights,  the allegations of “racism” are about as valid as trying to claim that firearm sales are “down” based on all of four months of data.

That is to say, not at all valid.

(Note:  This is not to say that firearm sales are not going to drop during President Trump’s term(s), just that claiming that they are “down” already is incorrect at the time of this post.  Someone else is more than welcome to try to do predictive analytics on the numbers (*.xlsx file), but seasonal averages with an underlying trend are a pain in the ass, and I am not willing to undertake that at this time.)

graphics matter, part two, 2017 edition

Last year’s edition of this post adequately explained the methods and reasons behind this post, so feel free to skim it if you need a refresher.  The sources remain the same:

So, with another year of data under our belt, does my answer to the hypothesis of “more guns = more ‘gun violence’” change?

PopulationFirearmsCrime2017

Nope.

The short answer is that the rate of firearm ownership correlates with the rate of crimes committed with a firearm with a coefficient of -0.57582, showing a negative correlation between the two.

Likewise, the raw number of firearms in private hands correlates to the raw number of crimes committed with a firearm with a coefficient of -0.44568, also indicating a negative correlation between these two data sets.

In a shock to no one, the hypothesis of “more guns = more ‘gun violence'” still cannot be true.

As always, please feel free to check my work (*.xlsx file).

 

utah concealed firearm permit holders are more law-abiding than average

Well, you cannot honestly accuse me of burying the lede, but I will admit that the posts here are getting a touch repetitive.

In any case, another graph to add to the list:

UTCFP

In 2015, Utah revoked all of 1008 licenses, and had 212,349 active permits in residents’ hands at the end of the year.

Given that, Utah’s “failure rate” with permits was approximately 0.475%.  On the other hand, in 2015, Utah had 3,216 violent and property crimes per 100,000 residents.

Based on those numbers, it is entirely rational to conclude that an average Utah Concealed Firearm Permit holder is at least six times less likely to break a significant law than an “average” Utahn.

I am sure that surprises… no one.

texas license to carry a handgun holders are more law-abiding than average

I am very thankful that so many states make a point of publishing generic data regarding their license to carry programs.

That said, here’s another image to add to the pile:

TXLTC

Yes, Texas did, in fact, revoke some permits in 2015.  But are you starting to see a pattern for the relative numbers?

Regardless, in 2015, Texas revoked a grand total of 880 licenses.  On the other hand, there were 937,419 licenses active that year.

Once you run the numbers, Texas had a failure rate of 0.094% with their Licenses to Carry a Handgun.

Comparatively, Texas had a total violent and property crime rate in 2015 of approximately 3243.6 per 100,000 people.

So, in a conclusion that surprises absolutely no one, Texas License to Carry Handgun holders are at least 30 times less likely to break a significant law than an “average” Texan.  

At this point, I do not think anyone would blame you for noticing a trend.

tennessee handgun carry permit holders are more law-abiding than average

This post is going to be a little different than its predecessor, simply because Tennessee does not track the total number of Handgun Carry Permits they have issued over time; however, the premise is still the same.

TNHCP

Again, you will have to take my word that yes, some permits were revoked in 2015.  That year, 529,661 people had active, current HCPs in Tennessee, while only 291 were revoked.

In other words, Tennessee enjoyed a 0.055% failure rate with their Handgun Carry Permit holders.

On the other hand, Tennessee had a total violent and property crime rate of approximately 3,548.3 per 100,000 people in 2015.

In other words, it is entirely reasonable to say that, in 2015, Handgun Carry Permit holders were over 60 times less likely to break a major law than “average” Tennesseans.

You know, it is starting to look like all the perseverating hysteria about background-checked, trained, law-abiding Americans peacefully carrying firearms in public is… completely groundless.

Huh.

florida concealed weapon or firearm license holders are more law-abiding than average

First, allow me to present the pretty picture for today’s post:

FloridaCWFL

You might have to take my word for it, but there really is a bar to go with “CWFLs Revoked and not Reinstated”.  The “problem”, so to speak, is a matter of scale.

From 01OCT87 to 31MAR17, Florida has issued 3,518,256 Concealed Weapon or Firearm Licenses – their version of a “concealed carry permit”.  As of 31MAR17, 1,747,635 of those licenses are still active.  Likewise, as of that date, 11,916 permits had been revoked, but 1,048 of those revoked have been reinstated leaving a total “revoked but not reinstated” of 10,868.

In other words, out of the literally millions of permits that Florida has issued over the past almost-30 years, they have had a failure rate of only 0.309%.

On the other hand, in 2015, the total violent and property crime rate (since any felony alone is sufficient to get a license revoked, not just a violent crime) in Florida was 3,275.1 per 100,000 people.

Given that the total violent and property crime rate in 1988 were 8,937.6 per 100,000 people, it is entirely reasonable to state that Florida Concealed Weapon or Firearm License holders are at least 10 times less likely to break a serious law than “average” Floridians.  

graphics matter, 2017 edition

“More data more better” is pretty much the rule when it comes to statistics, so I try to update the “graphics matter” series every year or so as my various sources update their data sets.  I missed a year somewhere in there, but I am happy to bring you the new, improved, examination of whether or not the hypothesis of “more guns = more ‘gun deaths'” holds true.

The results… will not surprise regular readers.

AmericanPopulationFirearmsDeaths2017

That is the chart, but what about the actual numbers?

The two pertinent rates – the number of firearms per capita versus the number of firearm-related fatalities per capita – correlate with a coefficient of -0.79744, indicating a strong, negative correlation between the two sets of data.

If you look at the raw numbers – the number of firearms, period, versus the number of firearm-related fatalities, or “gun deaths” – they correlate with a coefficient of -0.27315, which remains a negative correlation.

As always, correlation does not necessarily indicate, or even come close to proving, causality; but I am also not trying to prove causality.  However, the notion of “more guns = more ‘gun deaths'” does try to claim causality, when there is absolutely no positive correlation to support such a causal link.

Therefore, the hypothesis of “more guns = more ‘gun deaths'” still cannot be true.

(The previous version of this, along with a great deal more explanation, is available here.  The Excel spreadsheet from which I built the above graphic is available here.  My sources are the CDC’s WISQARS Fatal Injury Reports, the Small Arms Survey of 2003, the BATFE’s Firearms Commerce in the United States, the Shooting Industry News, and Radical Gun Nuttery.)