FBI background checks for gun purchases have surged by more than a third this year, compared to the first quarter of 2015.
This puts 2016 is on track to surpass last year’s record of 23 million background checks.
The FBI reported record monthly tallies for March, February and January. Background checks, also known as NICS, for National Instant Criminal Background Check System, totaled 7,682,141 in the first quarter this year.
That’s an increase of 36% from the same period last year, when there were 5,644,866 background checks.
If sales continue at this rate for the rest of the year, 2016 will bring at least thirty million firearms into the American supply. In a single year. For some context, that’s three-quarters as many as are owned in all of India (population: 1.3 billion).
As I explained in February, it is possible that there were around 400 million guns in private hands on January 1 of this year. Barring a dramatic slowdown, it now seems likely that Americans will own half a billion guns by the time the next decade begins.