NICS background checks performed in the U.S. 1998-2019

This statistic shows the total number of background checks performed by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in the United States from 1998 to 2019. The NICS background checks are used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives. In 2019, a total of 28.37 million background checks were registered by the FBI.

Number of background checks performed by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in the United States from 1998 to 2019

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Source

Release date

March 2020

Region

United States

Survey time period

1998 to 2019

Supplementary notes

NICS is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase.
This number does not represent the number of firearms sold in the U.S. Based on varying state laws and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.

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Statistics on "Firearms in the United States"

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