Barack Obama was often lampooned as America “best gun salesman” by conservatives, and they were right. The gun industry grew over 150% under Obama’s tenure, adding over 120,000 jobs – with most spikes occurring after mass shootings when gun control measures were discussed and proposed. Gun sales hit their last all-time high in 2016 due to anxieties over a Hillary Clinton presidency. With those catalysts removed, gun sales unsurprisingly fell during the first two years of Trump’s presidency.
That trend was probably broken last year, with 2019 likely setting a new record for gun sales. The number of gun related background checks the FBI conducts each year is a reliable proxy for gun sales in a given year, and those hit a record high in 2019.
According to the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard:
FBI gun background checks recorded the second-highest month ever in December, propelling 2019’s count to the most since the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) began in 1998.
The agency said Monday morning that it recorded 28,369,750 background checks in 2019, a 3% jump over the last record set in 2016.
In December, there were 2,936,894 NICS checks, the second-highest month ever.
The 2016 record, pushed high in part because gun control advocate Hillary Rodham Clinton was expected to beat President Trump, was not expected to be steamrolled this year. But gun shops around the nation saw a surge in sales because of highly publicized shootings, cheap prices, and an increase in states eager to impose controls on sales, bans, and even confiscations of weapons.
According to the most recent data, there are now 120 guns for every 100 people in America. Much of this is due to collectors who own multiple firearms (as over 130 million guns owned are owned by only 3% of the total adult population). Overall, about 42% of the population reports living in a household with a gun (though there are higher estimates closer to 50%), and one in three Americans owns a gun.