Photo (cc) by Patrick Feller
Many Americans kicked off the holiday shopping season with a bang on Black Friday by purchasing a firearm.
The FBI said a record-setting 185,345 background checks – two per second – were processed by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System on Nov. 27, the same day that three people were killed and nine were wounded in a shooting spree at a Colorado Planned Parenthood office, The Associated Press reports.
Gun background checks are a good indicator of gun sales, although not every background check leads to a firearm purchase.
The 185,345 background checks processed on Black Friday was a 5 percent increase from 2014.
“The previous record for the most background checks in a single day was Dec. 21, 2012, about a week after 20 children and six adults were shot to death in a Connecticut elementary school,” the AP added. On that day 177,170 were received.
In the week following the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, 953,613 gun background checks were processed. Gun sales in the United States often spike after mass shootings amid fears about tighter gun restrictions.
Jon Vernick, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, told The New York Times that because 40 percent of all firearm purchases are through unlicensed sellers, the actual number of guns purchased on Black Friday is unknown, though it’s likely higher than the background checks indicate.
“The federal system checks the records of people trying to buy a firearm from a licensed dealer, but are not required for those purchasing from many small-scale, unlicensed sellers who frequent places like the gun shows that were held in Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Missouri and other states on Friday,” the Times explained.
According to Newsweek, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is urging Congress to expand background checks to all firearm sales, including those at gun shows and online.
In fact, Brady Campaign president Dan Gross sent a letter on the issue to Senate leaders Dec. 2, mere hours before two people opened fire at a company holiday party in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people and wounding 21 others.
“It is our great fear that if Congress continues to do nothing to address these significant loopholes in our nation’s background check laws that make guns easily available to people intent on doing us harm, that this issue is a time bomb waiting to explode,” Gross said in the letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid.
The shooters responsible for the majority of mass shootings in recent years purchased their guns legally through licensed firearms dealers, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“But White House officials and their allies continue to see expanding background checks as the most promising way to prevent at least some gun deaths,” the LA Times said. “While perpetrators of mass shootings have typically passed background checks, a large percentage of shooters who kill people in street violence in U.S. cities buy guns through a black market that is fueled by private sales, they say.”
The White House is working on an executive order that would effectively close the background check loophole, but the process has been slow and mired by legal issues, the paper said.
Are you surprised by how many background checks were processed so Americans could purchase firearms on Black Friday? Do you think the United States needs tighter gun control regulations? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.