Gun Sales Soared 60% During Obama's Presidency

Brittany M. Hughes | January 17, 2017
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If one of President Obama's executive goals was to keep more guns out of the hands of Americans, he can pretty safely mark that one as a failure.

According to data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, widely considered to be the best metric in measuring firearms purchases in the United States, gun sales soared 60 percent under Obama's eight year stint in office compared to the number of firearms sold during President George W. Bush’s two-term presidency.

Of the roughly 157 million firearms-related background checks that were processed during Obama’s presidency, more than 50.6 million (nearly one-third) were processed in the last two years alone, during which Obama and other left-wing politicians continued to push for tighter gun restrictions.

While many point to Obama’s partisan anti-gun rhetoric and executive regulations on gun sales as the reason behind the sharp increase in firearms purchases, the recent election of Donald Trump, who campaigned on a pro-Second Amendment platform, hasn’t stopped Americans from purchasing firearms at increasing rates heading into Inauguration Day. The number of firearms-related background checks reached a 2016 record last December, when the FBI processed nearly 2.8 million background checks just in that 31-day time frame (a spike that occurs annually due to the Christmas season).

The total number of background checks processed in 2016 exceeded 27.5 million, surpassing 2014's previous record of 23.1 million.

By comparison, the FBI processed only about 94.8 million background checks during President Bush’s eight years in office. During Bush's presidency, annual gun sales reached a record high of 12.7 million in 2008, and a monthly high of just 1.5 million in December of that same year.

Conversely, the month with the highest number of gun-related background checks during President Obama’s term was December of 2015, when about 3.3 million background checks were run through the FBI’s system. That same month, two radical Islamic terrorists inspired by ISIS killed 14 people and injured 22 others at a medical center in San Bernardino, California. Only a month before, another ISIS-inspired terrorist group shot and killed a total of 130 people and injured another 368 in multiple attacks across Paris, including several mass shootings.

Following the spike in gun sales, President Obama in early January 2016 issued a series of unilateral gun control actions that placed tighter restrictions on the sale and purchase of firearms, following those actions up with a call for an assault weapons ban. That same month, FBI background checks hovered at 2.5 million, a 70 percent increase over the previous year.