Gun bargains were apparently a big draw on Black Friday. As news of a deadly standoff in Colorado Springs overshadowed America’s unofficial shopping holiday, the F.B.I. was busy processing about two firearm background checks per second.
The agency ran a record 185,345 background checks on Friday, about 5 percent more than the amount processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System on that day in 2014, a figure that is seen as a strong indicator of how many guns were sold, The Associated Press reported.
But since about 40 percent of all gun sales are through unlicensed sellers, that figure probably underestimated how many firearms actually changed hands, said Jon Vernick, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.
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.
In 2015, record numbers of background checks have been reported month after month. In October, over 1.9 million background checks were processed. That month, stocks for two major gun manufacturers soared after President Barack Obama called for tougher gun laws in the wake of a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Orgeon, The Guardian reported.
Mr. Vernick said anecdotal evidence suggests that such political messages increase gun purchases. But he said the main driver of gun sales is fear of everyday violence, including mass shootings. The National Rifle Association and other gun rights supporters have promoted the idea of weapons as protection.
Still, Mr. Vernick said, multiple studies show that people who keep firearms in their homes are actually less safe.
“They’re more likely to experience a homicide or suicide of a household member than are homes without guns,” he said, referring to studies conducted by researchers at The New England Journal of Medicine and theAmerican Journal of Epidemiology, among other publications.
In the past, the background-checks system has failed to prevent gun purchases by people who later went on to commit mass shootings. In July, the F.B.I. acknowledged that a breakdown in the system had not caught Dylann Roof, who later shot and killed nine people at a black church in South Carolina.
On Friday, as the background checks ticked away by the second, retail outlets like Cabela’s, Bauer Precision and ODIN Works were advertising firearm deals online and on social media. That morning and afternoon, a gunman terrorized a Planned Parenthood and shopping center for more than five hours in Colorado Springs, killing three people with a semiautomatic rifle before he was taken into police custody.
Despite all the gun shopping this year, other measures indicate that the number of American households with guns has declined over the last four decades.
From: The New York Times