Right on time as they do almost every month, the FBI has released their report on Active Records in the NICS Index as of 31 May 2013. NICS now has records of 22,197 renunciants who have been stripped of the right to purchase firearms in the United States. The FBI keeps uploading their new reports at the same URL as the old reports, making it rather difficult to do monthly comparisons, but this represents an increase of 374 records of renunciants since last month’s report, and 1,543 since the end of last year.
Year-on-year growth of 271%
For the period of 1 June 2011 to 31 May 2012, the FBI recorded about 1,425 renunciations (an exact number can’t be given since the report for May 2012 went missing, so this estimate assumes that the FBI’s May renunciant count was half of the increase recorded between April and June). In comparison, from 1 June 2012 to 31 May 2013, the FBI recorded 5,283 renunciations, making for a year-on-year increase of 271%. (The year-on-year increase without the mysterious 3,220 renunciant records added to NICS in September and October 2012 is 44%.) With four or five relinquishers for every six renunciants, that suggests a rough total of about nine thousand people giving up U.S. citizenship in one way or another during the past year.
The number of renunciants in the early days of NICS
Renunciation statistics from NICS’ early days are rather spotty, but statelessman left a comment on last month’s NICS post pointing to an interesting source which stated that on 30 November 1999 — a year after the launch of NICS — the FBI only had records of 626 renunciants. As pointed out earlier, NICS had 12,603 renunciant records by December 2000. Apparently the FBI got nearly twelve thousand Certificates of Loss of Nationality from the State Department over that period, but then none at all for the next five years.
It seems more likely that those twelve thousand were a backlog rather than the number of renunciants in that one single year. Yet, this number is far too small to be the backlog of all renunciants in the three decades since the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968 which originally prohibited renunciants from purchasing firearms in the United States. Intuitively, it seems far too large to be the tally for a single year, and it’s almost possible to dismiss that idea out of hand … except when you remember that at roughly the same time, the IRS put out estimates that about twelve thousand people per year would file their shiny new 8854 exit tax form.
As always, government data releases bring us more questions than answers …