Black Friday NICS Checks Set New Record

Firearms sales have been booming since at least 2019. We’ve added some five to six million new gun owners to the ranks in that time, many of whom are women. A recent NBC News poll revealed that 52% of respondents said that they or someone in their household owns a firearm. The recent Black Friday numbers bear that out. The FBI reports that Thanksgiving week generated 680,671 National Instant Background Check System (NICS) inquiries, with Black Friday alone accounting for 214,913.

Man purchasing a firearm
Black Friday set a new record for NICS checks. (

A New Black Friday Record

The Black Friday NICS number is the highest recorded number on record. The Thanksgiving week number is down slightly from 2022’s total of 711,372, a 4.3% decline. Either way, firearms sales are very strong, averaging over a million checks per month for more than four years running.

Strong Thanksgiving week sales, or Black Friday week if you prefer, are helped by the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) work with firearm retailers to spread sales throughout the week. Retailers offering special sales throughout the week accommodate demand while not overwhelming the FBI NICS checks on Black Friday itself. That leads to a better buying experience for consumers and provides steadier business for the retailers themselves.

NSSF notes that Black Friday sales aren’t solely responsible for increased sales. History shows that gun sales increase in the fall as hunting seasons draw near. We can say, however, that American gun owners are still buying firearms, and that’s a good thing indeed.

Black Friday week sales broken down by day are as follows:

  • Saturday, November 18, 2023: 95,354 checks
  • Sunday, November 19, 2023: 52,521 checks
  • Monday, November 20, 2023: 79,970 checks
  • Tuesday, November 21, 2023: 101,199 checks
  • Wednesday, November 22, 2023: 110,703 checks
  • Thursday, November 23, 2023 (Thanksgiving Day): 26,011 checks
  • Friday, November 24, 2023: 214,913 checks
Springfield Armory Echelon pistol
Springfield Armory’s Echelon pistol was among the many innovative designs for 2023. (Springfield Armory)

A Contradictory Message

Strong sales seem to contradict, and even refute, the unrelenting gun control propaganda we’ve seen over the last three years. We’re told that Americans want more restrictive gun laws, and many no doubt do, but sales numbers like this make me question the narrative. Keep in mind that a NICS check accounts for one person. That person may be buying one gun. Or he or she may be buying two or three guns. We don’t know. But chances are that at least some of those checks were for multiple firearms. Once again, that doesn’t sound like what we’re being told.

Then we have the NBC News Gun Ownership poll. The poll asked registered voters the following question: “Do you, or does anyone in your household, own a gun of any kind?” As we said, 52% answered “yes.” That number is up from 42% in 2013, marking a huge 10-point jump in only a decade. Even more remarkable, to me, is the number has risen by 6 points, from 46%, in the four years since 2019. So, the growth is getting faster. We can’t say whether that trend will continue, but it will sure be interesting to find out.

NBC New Gun Ownership Poll Results

And frankly, I think the 52% number is low. I say that because I know lots of people who would never tell a pollster, or any other stranger, that they own guns. It’s none of their business. I bet you know people like that too. Maybe you’re like that. I’ve never been asked so I’m not sure how I’d respond. Either way, I’d bet anything I own that the number is really higher than 52%.

These numbers also belie the common gun control talking point that gun ownership rates are falling, with fewer people owning more guns. They desperately want to believe that, and they want you to believe it too. Neither claim seems to be true. But we all know that gun control advocates often play fast and loose with the numbers, don’t we?

These numbers, from an anti-gun media organization no less, show that more Americans are taking responsibility for their own safety via the Second Amendment. That’s a very good thing, and not only for public safety reasons.

“In Common Use”

Legal challenges to gun control laws are flying fast and furious. Many are based on the judicial methodology laid out in the Supreme Court’s Heller Decision, which last year’s Bruen Decision affirmed and reinforced. That methodology clearly states that firearms “in common use” are protected by the Second Amendment and cannot be outlawed.

Woman purchasing a firearm
Many of the five to six million new gun owners are women. (

Strong gun sales mean the “in common use” provision carries more weight every day. Despite clinging to Heller’s assertion that the Second Amendment is not unlimited, the gun controllers are having a tough time dealing with the common use definition. That trend looks like it will continue.

NSSF President and CEO Joe Bartozzi, in speaking about the Black Friday NICS numbers, remarked “These figures tell us that there is a continued strong appetite for lawful firearm ownership by law-abiding Americans and that firearm manufacturers across the country continue to deliver the quality firearms our customers have come to expect.” Mr. Bartozzi is correct. 2023 has seen some quality, innovative firearms hit the market. 2024 will hopefully witness the same. And that’s a very good thing since it appears the American public is embracing the trend. Let’s keep it rolling in 2024.

William "Bucky" Lawson is a self-described "typical Appalachian-American gun enthusiast". He is a military historian specializing in World War II and has written a few things, as he says, "here and there". A featured contributor for Strategy & Tactics, he likes dogs, range time, and a good cigar - preferably with an Old Fashioned that has an extra orange slice.

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