A total of nearly 26.2 million firearm background checks were conducted in 2018. That's up slightly from 2017, but still below the record annual high of 27.5 million gun background checks reached in 2016.

Federal firearm background checks are performed via the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to ensure transactions do not violate federal or state laws.

While background check statistics are commonly used to approximate firearm purchases, they do not represent actual numbers of guns sold. Federal law does not require checks for private sales between individuals and multiple guns are often purchased after a single background check, for example.

Select a state for numbers of background checks requested each month since 2010.