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U.S. gun sales fall months after Parkland shooting tragedy

U.S. gun sales fell in May, according to data released by the federal government on Monday.

While there is no exact data on firearms purchases in the U.S., the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System is used as a barometer for gun sales. Adjusted for permit checks such as concealed-carry applications, May checks were down 8.5 per cent from the previous year, totalling 904,834.

Firearms sales have historically increased when politicians discuss gun control legislation.
Firearms sales have historically increased when politicians discuss gun control legislation.   ( Sue Ogrocki / AP )

Handgun checks fell 11.6 per cent, while long-gun checks fell 8.4 per cent, according to analysis from KeyBanc Capital Markets. The unadjusted total, including permits, was 2,002,992, an increase from 1,942,677 in May 2017.

“While the May data saw long guns outperform handguns, we again saw rather broad-based declines across the state-level data (41 of 50 states down), which we believe supports our view of a normalizing trajectory after a strong March,” KeyBanc analyst Brett Andress wrote in a note.

Background check numbers also fell last month, dropping 4.1 per cent compared to the previous year. Those numbers were up 10.8 per cent in March, following a mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school in February that sparked nationwide gun control debate and protests. The March increase led analysts to believe fear-based gun buying had returned, after the industry fell into a bit of a slump following the 2016 presidential election.

Firearms sales have historically increased when politicians discuss gun control legislation. Earlier this year, U.S. Congress made some strides toward firearms controls.

Shares of publicly traded firearms companies did not experience any major swings following the release of the FBI data. American Outdoor Brands Co. was up about 0.2 per cent, Vista Outdoor Inc. was up about 1 per cent, and Sturm, Ruger & Co. fell about 0.3 per cent.

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