This August goes down as one of the busiest on record for gun shops across the nation. USA Today reports this past month had the highest number of background checks for August ever. I dug a little deeper on the numbers at looked at Alabama stats. After a summer of at least three high profile shootings there’s always a call for more gun control. President Obama made such a call following the Charleston Church shooting this summer during the US Conference of Mayors meeting in June.
“Every country has mentally unstable people, the difference is America is awash in easily accessible guns,” said President Obama. That gun control warning usually results in higher gun sales. Background checks back this up in Alabama.
Following the Lafayette theater shooting–background checks in Alabama went up 11%. I compared the number of Alabama background checks from the month of July this year to August of this year. All of this data comes from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. For comparison’s sake I also looked at Alabama’s data for the same period a year ago. Generally background check numbers are on an upward trend month to month. During the same period last year the increase was only 4.3%.
After the mass shooting in Charleston background checks were up 23.5% from June to July of this year coming from Alabama. During that same time period a year prior the increase was 4%.
The trend goes further back. After the Aurora theater shooting in Colorado, firearm checks in Alabama were up 20%. I compared July to August of 2012. Looking at the same period for a year prior the checks in Alabama were up 17% in the summer of 2011.
Tom hand sells guns through his Daphne pawn shop called Goldmine Pawn. He says each call for gun control reminds buyers they might not have much time left. I talked to him over the phone.
“They’ve been putting off buying one for a while they’ve decided they want to make sure they still have a chance to get one while they’re legally available,” said Hand. Newtown was the only recent high profile shooting where the trend reversed. From December 2012 to January 2013 firearm checks were down by 31% in Alabama. At that time the numbers were still breaking records in total number of background checks. A drop-off that time of year isn’t unusual since most gun buyers may have crammed their purchases into the holiday shopping season. I also looked at the Alabama numbers for the same time period a year earlier. There was a steeper December to January drop-off of 46% from 2011 to 2012.