New data from the FBI’s National Instant Check System (NICS) confirms what many in the Second Amendment community joked about for the past eight years: Barack Obama was the nation’s best gun salesman, and coming in a close second is Hillary Rodham Clinton.
But just because their threat to the Second Amendment has been diminished does not mean gun owners can slip back into lethargy. To the contrary, with Republicans controlling Capitol Hill and a Republican president, this may be the most opportune moment in decades for gun rights activists to reform the nations’ gun laws.
The legislative fight is well underway. National concealed carry reciprocity could become a reality. New Hampshire just adopted “Constitutional Carry” with the need for a carry license. A National Hearing Protection Act could become law, thus removing bureaucratic red tape from the ownership of sound suppressors (silencers).
This is not the time for lethargy, for which gun owners are famous. There may be no better time to join and support the nation’s major gun rights organizations, which have been fighting legislative and legal battles for years, many veteran activists contend. This is not the time to fold up tents and go home. Years of restrictive gun control will take time and effort to reverse.
Fox News confirms that firearms sales-related background checks have declined for the first two months of this year. With Obama out of office, and Clinton having lost her bid to succeed him, the national concern about firearms restrictions and outright gun bans appears to have waned.
In December 2016, NICS checks fell to 2,771,159, a decline of only about a half-million from the record set in December 2015 when the FBI conducted 3,314,594 NICS checks. January saw 2,043,184 checks conducted (as opposed to 2,545,802 checks in January 2016) and in February there was a slight uptick to 2,234,817 (down from the 2,613,074 in February 2016), but still lower than in December and in November when 2,561,281 NICS checks were initiated.
These numbers do not reflect actual gun sales, but provide a strong indicator of such transactions.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s weekly Bullet Points, the NSSF-adjusted NICS figure for February background checks was 1,298,208, a decrease of 12.7 percent from February 2016, when the adjusted figure was 1,487,274.
All of this translates to an inescapable conclusion: With Obama in office and Clinton poised to take office, Americans were concerned about their Second Amendment rights, and they were arming up. The guns they didn’t want Americans to have are now in the hands of the very citizens their gun control schemes targeted. The irony is almost overwhelming.
More importantly, President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch, described by many as a “constitutional originalist,” to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant more than a year ago by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Trump also has more than 100 federal court vacancies to fill. If he nominates more conservative “originalist” judges to fill those slots, the federal court system will take a turn back toward the center-right from the left where it is today.
Thanks to Obama and Clinton, Americans probably own more guns now than at any time in history. But will gun owners now step up to the plate, joining and supporting efforts to turn back decades of Second Amendment erosion?