In June, the number of background checks conducted by the FBI — a strong indicator of new gun sales — hit its lowest level since September 2011. The figure was down 54 percent from December 2012, in which more background checks were performed than any previous month in history. But why?
There are probably four reasons : Obama, the seasons, gun control, and physics.
Using data from the FBI, we created a chart showing the number of background checks per month. This isn't tied directly to sales; Kentucky, for example, requires a new check at the renewal of a concealed carry permit. But it's a good indicator.
What we're interested in is that drop at the far right, last month, in which 1.28 million checks were conducted.
Reason 1: Gun control
After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, gun sales spiked. That reaction stemmed largely from concerns that the government would institute new restrictions on gun ownership. A look at Google Trends data, which tracks search frequency, bears that out.
As BuzzFeed noted on Thursday, retailers agree with this assessment. In an earnings call, sporting goods store Cabela's sees a link between fears of new laws and an increase in purchases. When legislation on gun control went dormant on Capitol Hill in the spring, that impetus diminished.