January saw huge declines in background check numbers.
The run has come to an end. For some time now, we've been seeing record numbers of background checks performed each month. You would have to rewind all the way back to May of 2015 to find the start of the impressive streak: a full 19 months.
A total of 19 monthly records were broke in the string. That all came to an end in January of 2017. The first month of the year saw a total of 2,043,184 background checks, according to a report by Breitbart News. That figure is over half a million fewer background checks from the previous January. It is a full 550,000 fewer than the highest record month which came in December of 2015.
Not surprisingly, political unrest and uncertainty around elections have been blamed for the increased figures over the last two years. Leading up to Donald Trump's election in November, the U.S. saw consistently high figures. In fact, if you were to add the background check figures from January to November, those 11 months alone would set a new record for total background checks performed in a year.
While it is a requirement for all new firearm purchases to include a check, these background checks don't necessarily provide an accurate picture of the quantity of firearms actually sold. Upon passing a federal background check, purchasers are able to purchase more than one firearm in a single transaction. For example, let's say that there were 2,000,000 background checks performed in a given month. As many as 4,000,000 guns could have been sold if each buyer purchased two firearms.