The holiday shopping season is big business for most retailers in the United States, and the gun industry is no exception. The last three months of the year represent almost a third of annual sales for firearms retailers each year.
The original data comes from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) report, updated monthly by the FBI. This data set is published as a PDF, but BuzzFeed News publishes a downloadable CSV version that can be opened with Excel, Google Spreadsheet, or any other spreadsheet software.
Guns & America analyzed 20 years of numbers from the NICS database, from 1999-2018.
Based on Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting’s methodology and the National Shooting Sports Foundation Adjusted-NICS, this analysis uses data from handgun, long gun and multiple firearm permits. The FBI defines this category as those cases with “multiple types of firearms selected.”
The permits and permit rechecks were not included in the analysis. As explained by this post from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, these two categories are “used by several states such as Connecticut, Illinois, and Utah for CCW [Concealed Carry Weapons] permit application checks as well as checks on active CCW [Concealed Carry Weapons] permit databases.”
The data for the graphic titled “Top 10: Single-Day Background Check Request” includes all the categories, as, in this case, the FBI publishes aggregated data only.
Guns & America is a public media reporting project on the role of guns in American life.