Innocente beat me to the punch and pointed out in a comment that the FBI released their latest report on Active Records in the NICS Index last Friday. NICS now contains the records of 21,823 persons who renounced U.S. citizenship under INA § 349(5) (or, theoretically, the wartime provisions of INA § 349(6)) and are thus barred from purchasing firearms in the United States. This is an increase of 319 records as compared to March 2013, and 1,169 records since December 2012.
The questions from last time remains: whether or not renunciations show a seasonal trend, and what this data means for the rest of the year. But without trying to figure out seasonal trends, we can still note that the number of renunciations recorded by the FBI from 1 May 2012 to 30 April 2013 — 5,161 — is more than four times the 1,275 renunciations recorded for 1 May 2011 to 30 April 2012. Much of the increase in the past twelve months was due to 3,220 records that the FBI added to NICS in September and October 2012. This sudden increase is not well-understood; it may be a one-off correction of a backlog of unreleased records, or may represent part of the longer-trend term of rising renunciations. However, even if take the extreme position of discounting that entire 3,220 as a fluke, there were still 1,941 other records of renunciants added to NICS in the past twelve months, a 52% increase over the twelve months prior to that.
NICS does not record individuals who relinquished U.S. citizenship under INA § 349(1)–(4). Past trends indicate that with just under 1,200 renunciations since January there should be around nine hundred or so relinquishers, suggesting that around two thousand people voluntarily gave up U.S. citizenship from January to April.
Comparison with other sources of renunciation data
Media reports of public figures who gave up U.S. citizenship also seem to have risen: from January to April 2012 we heard about Belizean politician Yolanda Schakron, former Yugoslavian royal Elizabeth Karageorgevic, and Japan scholar Donald Keene, while so far this year there have been articles on Tina Turner, Corine Mauch (Zurich mayor), Mahmud Karzai (brother of Afghan president Hamid Karzai), Naftali Bennett and Dov Lipman (Israeli legislators), Bernard Chan (Hong Kong executive council member, not to be confused with another Bernard Chan who renounced a decade ago), Marshall Nicholson (Hong Kong banker), and Sharon Roulstone (Caymanian parliamentary candidate).
Contrary to the impression you’ll get from the newspapers, most people getting out of U.S. citizenship are ordinary folks trying to pay rent and save for retirement, not rich and wealthy superstars fleeing the estate tax. Even most of the public figures renouncing U.S. citizenship are politicians rather than businesspeople. However, a rise in their numbers is still significant; it points to the underlying fact that more people are deciding that the purported benefits of U.S. citizenship abroad are an insufficient inducement to retaining U.S. citizenship, and that they can best pursue happiness and success by not being U.S. citizens.
Finally, it seems that since last year one additional un-American (or someone using the identity of one) attempted to purchase a gun and got caught during the background check, increasing the total number of denials to renunciants since the inception of the NICS system from 57 to 58. I wonder how many of those are actual people who have renounced, returned to the United States, and decided to buy a gun, as opposed to Homelanders who stole Mike Gogulski’s identity after he posted a picture of his Social Security card on his blog.
Anyway, say what you will about the FBI, but at least they’re reasonably thorough, and they get their work done before the weekend even when they have bigger fish to fry — much unlike the Treasury, which still has not release what will likely be an incredibly-incomplete list of people who renounced, relinquished, or gave up green cards in the first quarter of 2013.