Data released by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reported 1,023,102 checks in May 2009. This figure is a 15.4 percent increase from the 886,183 reported in May 2008.

FBI background checks are required under federal law for all individuals purchasing either newly manufactured or used firearms from federally licensed retailers. The checks serve as a gauge of actual sales but do not reflect the actual number of firearms sold.

The May increase follows a 30.3 percent increase in April, a 29.2 percent gain in March and rises of 23 percent in February, 28 percent in January, 24 percent in December and 42 percent in November when a record 1,529,635 background checks were performed.

The increase coincides with an up tick in excise taxes reported by firearms and ammunition manufacturers, another key economic indicator for the firearms industry.

The total number of background checks reported since the beginning of NICS is 102,051,149.

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Data released by the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reported 1,023,102…