Black Friday 2014 was a huge day for gun sales across the country, which challenged the federal background check system.
The day-after-Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza resulted in more than 175,000 FBI background checks for firearms purchasers, amounting to about three per second,. This is triple the ordinary daily average during the rest of the year submitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Purchasers must have a clean record in order to complete a gun store transaction and as such are required to provide basic identifying information on a government form created by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The total number of Black Friday background checks is the most in history and the second highest for any U.S. shopping day. The current overall record, in excess of 177,000 background checks, was set on December 21, 2012.
Last year’s Black Friday resulted in about 145,000 checks.
Background checks may actually underestimate the actual number of weapons sold during the Black Friday spike, or any other day for that matter, however, “as one background check can reflect the sale of any number of firearms by a given purchaser at a given time. Also, there are many states where a concealed carry permit is used instead of a NICS check, and the number of people with concealed carry permits has skyrocketed in recent years,” the Bearing Arms website explained.
Federal background checks are the responsibility of about 600 FBI agents and contract call enter employees at a West Virginia government office who are “under the gun,” as it were. They endeavor to complete the process within three business days as the law mandates. The FBI adds staff during the holidays in an attempt to keep up with the demand.
Gun store staff seeking permission to proceed with a sale can also submit the customer info via an online data base.
About 3,000 of the Black Friday background checks likely won’t go through because purchaser information is incomplete.
“Traditionally, Black Friday is one of our busiest days for transaction volume,” an FBI representative told CNN. “We are averaging three checks per second. The challenge is to have staff keep up with this volume. We do that by limiting personal leave, asking employees to work extra shifts and reutilizing former… employees to serve in NICS during this busy period.”
In 2013, the FBI processed 21 million background checks, with just a 1.1 percent denial rate.
Relying on data that may or may not be up to date, which can be an issue, red flags include “a felony conviction, an arrest warrant, a documented drug problem or mental illness, undocumented immigration status, a dishonorable military discharge, a renunciation of U.S. citizenship, a restraining order, a history of domestic violence, or an indictment for any crime punishable by longer than one year of prison time,” AP reported.
Whether purchased on Black Friday, or on another day when there is less stress on the background check system, the news agency also noted that a buyer gets his or her gun by default if the FBI fails to determine eligibility within the specified three-business-day period.
[image via Shutterstock]
Added: According to the NRA, “the FBI continues running checks after the three-day period has elapsed and reports all ultimate denials to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) on a daily basis. Thereafter, BATFE personnel and local law enforcement officers can and do take action to separate prohibited persons from any firearms they may have acquired during the delay.”