Every year, Black Friday is the official start of holiday shopping, and it would appear that gun sales took part in the record 2015 season. While most people were out buying televisions and iPads, many were getting background checks and buying guns.
Last week, the FBI reportedly processed a record number of background checks most likely related to Black Friday gun sales, according to the Huffington Post. Averaging two per second, the FBI received 185,345 background check requests in one day, Black Friday 2015.
It is not unusual for record number background checks on Black Friday. FBI data show previous spikes the day after Thanksgiving in 2013 and 2012, as well. The FBI initially estimated 190,000 background checks would be performed on Black Friday 2015.
Last Friday’s single-day record was set the same day that a shooter in Colorado killed three people and injured nine others in an attack at a Planned Parenthood office. The previous record high for background screenings in one day was 177,170 on December 21, 2012, just days after the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut.
Gun sales also increased during the week after terrorists struck the city of Paris last month. Whether or not an attack similar to the one in France can happen in the U.S. or someone closer to home takes innocent lives, people are obviously concerned about personal safety and respond by purchasing a gun.
“It puts a scare in an individual, it takes something like that to shake people up in a way,” said Timothy Dilcher, a gunsmith with Frazier’s Tactical Firearms.
In the wake of the Planned Parenthood shooting, some are demanding increased government oversight when it comes to gun sales. On Saturday, President Obama triggered additional debate on gun control regulation by calling guns “weapons of war.”
“This is not normal. We can’t let it become normal. If we truly care about this — if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period. Enough is enough.”
Whenever a mass shooting or terrorist attack hits the news, many gun dealers and pawn shops report upwards of a 10 percent rise in gun sales as well as people stocking up on ammo. Sellers were anticipating a spike on Black Friday 2015, as well.
Just before a gun sale is completed by a federally licensed dealer, a person’s background is checked through the National Instant Background Check System. The system scans a person’s background looking for various criminal records, including ones for domestic violence and restraining order violations. The system is also used when someone applies for a gun permit.
After the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was enacted in 1998, the FBI has been running background checks prior to a gun sale. Since then, more than 220 million requests have been sent to the agency.
The numbers recorded by the FBI do not include private gun sales, which do not require background checks. A recent study put out by Harvard estimates that 40 percent of gun buyers never go through a background check.
The number of guns owned by Americans is currently estimated at 310 million.
Although there were five percent more screenings Friday than the same day in 2014, a background check doesn’t necessarily mean a gun was purchased. Some background checks resulted in a denial or were for a concealed carry application. Fortune reports that the FBI background check statistic is used by gun manufacturers to gauge the overall growth or decline of the industry.
Despite some sales not being monitored, background check statistics are currently the best measure available to track the number of guns sold in the U.S. With a record number of FBI screenings on Black Friday 2015, most analysts agree that gun sales reached a record peak on that day as well.
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