December, January the top two months in terms of gun purchases in U.S.

New figures released by the FBI show that Americans, during December and January, have been buying guns in record numbers. Analysts say that behind the surge in gun purchases are two events: the Newtown, Connecticut mass shooting and the moves by the Obama administration to introduce – and, in the case of assault weapons, reintroduce – gun control measures. The FBI figures show that in January, the agency performed 2,495,440 gun background checks, initiated by gun sellers before they sold a gun to a customer.

New figures released by the FBI show that Americans, during December and January, have been buying guns in record numbers. Analysts say that behind the surge in gun purchases are two events: the Newtown, Connecticut mass shooting and the moves by the Obama administration to introduce – and, in the case of assault weapons, reintroduce – gun control measures.

The FBI figures show that in January, the agency performed 2,495,440 gun background checks, initiated by gun sellers before they sold a gun to a customer.

This is the second highest number since the agency began to keep records in 1998.

In December 2012, 2,783,765 background checks were performed.

Since 1998, customers purchasing guns from licensed dealers – mostly gun shops —  must undergo a federal background check to make sure that they are not criminals, mentally ill, or otherwise disqualified from owning a firearm.

The FBI conducts these checks by checking the buyer’s name against the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, maintained by the agency.

About 60 percent of Americans buy firearms from licensed dealers, and thus undergo a background check. About 40 percent buy firearms at gun shows, from private collectors, of from a friend. The latter group of gun buyers are not subject to background checks.

The Guardian reports that the FBI’s latest figures about the top 10 highest days since 1998 in terms of the number of gun background checks initiated offer an interesting story. The record was 177,170 requests for NICS checks on Friday, 21 December — exactly a week after the Newtown massacre.

Of the top 10 days since 1998, all but two have been recorded on or since the day of the Newtown shooting.

Observers say that of the three main elements of the administration’s gun control  initiative – assault weapons ban, limiting the size of ammunition magazines, and universal background checks – the latter two are the most likely to pass in both the House and the Senate.

It is less clear whether the assault weapons ban would pass.

Monthly and Yearly Background Check Totals

About Tim McDowell

Colorado ACFEI Member's Homeland Security Weblog
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