Gun Sales Are Stuck in a Trump Slump

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NEW YORK — Gun sales keep dropping in the wake of President Trump’s election.

Federal background checks, which do not precisely track gun sales but serve as the best available proxy, have fallen significantly each of the three months since Election Day.

The FBI says it ran 2.23 million background checks in February. That’s down 14% from February 2016.

Background checks were down 20% in January and 17% in December.

Gun sales have been driven by politics. President Obama, in his doomed attempt to tighten federal gun laws, was the greatest gun salesman in history. Then came Hillary Clinton and her campaign against Trump, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

With Obama and Clinton out of the picture and Republicans in control of Congress, the threat of more restrictive gun laws has disappeared, and people are less motivated to buy guns.

Gun stocks have also dropped steeply. American Outdoor Brands, the company formerly known as Smith & Wesson, is down 33% from Election Day. Sturm Ruger is down 25% in that time.

The FBI conducts a background check every time someone tries to buy a gun, or guns, from a federally licensed dealer, which includes any dealer at a gun store. Most buyers pass inspection.

Some purchases at gun shows, or between individuals, do not involve federally licensed dealers and are not subject to background checks.

People sometimes apply more than once for a background check for a single gun purchase, or apply only for one background check to buy more than one gun. And some applicants are rejected. So background checks do not directly reflect gun sales.

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