The FBI just released its numbers on July criminal background checks of potential gun buyers and they rocketed 79% higher from last year.

The federal law enforcement agency said over 3.6 million investigations were conducted through its National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) during the month, the fourth time this year more than 3 million checks were made. It's also the third-greatest number recorded since the FBI began keeping track back in 1998, surpassed by the record 3.9 million conducted in June and the 3.7 million done in March.

An AR-15 on the American flag

Image source: Getty Images.

Locked and loaded

With unrest still continuing in some major American cities and during a presidential election year in which the candidates' stances on gun control differ greatly, more background checks are being initiated than ever before.

So far in 2020, the FBI has conducted 22.8 million background checks, up 43% from this time last year, which had been the biggest year until now.

Smith & Wesson Brands (SWBI 11.38%) reported fiscal 2020 fourth-quarter results in June and noted sales surged 32% from the year-ago period. Sturm, Ruger's (RGR 5.39%) second-quarter earnings last week revealed a 36% jump in firearms sales leading it to declare a special dividend of $5 per share on top of its regular quarterly dividend of $0.42 per share.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation will release its adjustments to the raw FBI numbers to account for anomalies (like gun owners who already have a concealed carry permit, but are rechecked to ensure they are still eligible). That data is considered the industry standard that provides a closer approximation of actual consumer demand.