FBI Receives Record Number Of Background Check Requests For Black Friday Gun Sales

FBI Receives Record Number Of Background Check Requests For Black Friday Gun Sales
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Updated 7 months ago

For those of us who prefer to stay safe at home, the thought of Black Friday might conjure images of rabid shoppers storming retail locations, enduring a hellish gauntlet in search of deep discounts. The lines, the traffic, the carnal rage bubbling just below the surface, all ready to turn your local Walmart into Thunderdome once the last PlayStation is sold. Despite the harrowing images and horror stories, 2017 was a banner year for retailers.

FBI figures show a record number of shoppers took advantage of sales to pick up... guns.

The FBI received 203,086 requests for background checks following Black Friday, a new single-day record, beating out the previous sales records of 185,713 in 2016, and 185,345 in 2015, both on Black Friday as well. But people can buy more than one firearm per transaction.

The number of background checks is likely lower than the number of guns purchased.

It's a startling figure, one made even more worrisome by the FBI's own admission that they are understaffed and often have to rush to complete background checks within the three-day waiting period. And due to inefficiencies in how crimes make it into the National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NICS), some criminals slip through the cracks.

Those cracks allowed Devin Kelly to buy a rifle before the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. 

Following the Texas shooting, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy (D) appealed to his fellow lawmakers:

As my colleagues go to sleep tonight, they need to think about whether the political support of the gun industry is worth the blood that flows endlessly onto the floors of American churches, elementary schools, movie theaters and city streets.

Although it has a comparatively small membership roster of just five million, the NRA is one of the most effective and powerful lobbyists in Washington, a feat which can be credited to its ability to mobilize its members.

After the school shooting in Newton, Connecticut, the NRA sent an alert to its members:

The main goal of the gun banners in Congress is not to make schools safer, but to ban your guns and abolish every last sacred right you have  under the Second Amendment . . . until they reduce your freedom to ashes.

The NICS provides limited information in its background checks, which may reveal an arrest record but leave out important information like whether the arrest resulted in a conviction. Incomplete information leaves FBI members struggling to fill in the blanks and make assessments within the three-day waiting period.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a memo Wednesday ordering the FBI and the ATF to review the NICS system:

[The NICS] is critically important to protecting the American public from firearms related violence. It is, however, only as reliable and robust as the information that federal, state, local and tribal government entities make available to it.