FBI Conducted Record High 39.7 Million Firearm Background Checks in 2020

Criminal Background Check

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted a record high 39.7 million firearm background checks for gun purchases in 2020, according to statistics from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) that checks for the criminal records of people who may be disqualified from receiving firearms.

The FBI reported a 40 percent surge in firearm background checks in 2020 over the previous record total of 28,369,750 from 2019, most likely in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The 3,937,066 firearm background checks conducted in December 2020 were the largest monthly tally since the FBI started keeping track in 1998.

The following statistics from the FBI represent the number of firearms background checks initiated through the NICS from January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020. These statistics only represent the total number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the total number of firearms sold.

  • January 2020 – 2,702,702 NICS Background Checks
  • February 2020 – 2,802,467 NICS Background Checks
  • March 2020 – 3,740,688 NICS Background Checks
  • April 2020 – 2,911,128 NICS Background Checks
  • May 2020 – 3,091,455 NICS Background Checks
  • June 2020 – 3,931,607 NICS Background Checks
  • July 2020 – 3,639,224 NICS Background Checks
  • August 2020 – 3,115,063 NICS Background Checks
  • September 2020 – 2,892,115 NICS Background Checks
  • October 2020 – 3,305,465 NICS Background Checks
  • November 2020 – 3,626,335 NICS Background Checks
  • December 2020 – 3,937,066 NICS Background Checks
  • Total 2020 – 39,695,315 NICS Background Checks

Operated by the FBI, the NICS was established by the Brady Act of 1993 as a national namecheck system for federal firearms licensees (FFL) such as gun shop owners, pawnshop dealers, and retailers to use to determine whether a person can legally buy a firearm. To learn more about the NICS, visit www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/nics.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that spreads from person to person. As of January 6, 2021, there are more than 86.5 million global cases and 1.8 million global deaths, while the United States leads the world with more than 21 million cases and 357,000 deaths, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider that was ranked the number one screening firm by HRO Today in 2020 – offers employers background checks for employment purposes in a variety of industry specific solutions. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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