NSSF, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition and recreational shooting sports industry, said its firearms sales rose 23.3 percent or 1,259,078 in February, up from 1,021,130 in February 2008.

Despite the economic crisis and slumping retail sales, the increase follows a 28 percent rise in January, and 24 percent in December.

Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) said, Since November, sales of firearms -- in particular handguns and semi-automatic hunting and target rifles -- are fast outpacing inventory.

ATF announcement yesterday, that continuing increase in firearm sales, retailers may continue to photocopy the Form 4473, the federal document required for purchasing a firearms.