Aug Sees Record Firearms Sales

WASHINGTON — Renewed calls for more restrictive gun laws, following a succession of fatal shootings in the United States, immediately appear to be generating a boost for the gun industry.

Newly released August records show that the FBI posted 1.7 million background checks required of gun purchasers at federally licensed dealers, the highest number recorded in any August since gun checks began in 1998. The numbers follow new monthly highs for June (1.5 million) and July (1.6 million), a period which spans a series of deadly gun attacks — from Charleston to Roanoke — and proposals for additional firearm legislation.

While the FBI does not track actual gun sales, as multiple firearms can be included in a transaction by a single buyer, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System’s numbers are an indicator of a market upswing in the face of growing anxiety about access to guns.

“Whenever there is a call for gun control, sales increase,” said Larry Keane, general counsel for the firearm industry trade association National Shooting Sports Foundation. “Unfortunately, this is a pattern that repeats itself.”

The summer trend is not on par with the panic buying boom that followed the 2012 Newtown massacre, which jump-started state and federal campaigns for a host of new firearm measures. During the months that followed the Connecticut attack, which featured new calls for an assault weapons ban and expanded background checks, apprehensive gun buyers emptied the shelves of dealers across the country. Yet, the recent uptick represents a similar buying pattern that dates to the uneasy period before 1994 adoption of the assault weapons ban. (That ban expired in 2004.)

Virginia Del. Patrick Hope, a Democratic member of the state Assembly who proposed an expansion of background checks following last month’s shooting deaths of two journalists near Roanoke, said the stockpiling of weapons represented an “over-reaction.”

“We’re not at all threatening any one’s ability to get a gun,” Hope said. “What we’re talking about here is common sense legislation. I don’t think any one is threatened by background checks.”

In the recent Virginia shootings, an attack carried out on live television, gunman Vester Flanagan passed a background check prior to last month’s purchase of two Glock handguns, including the weapon used in the Aug. 26 assault in which reporter Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27, were killed. A third person, a local chamber of commerce official, was wounded. Flanagan later used one of the weapons to kill himself.

Hope said his expanded background check proposal, supported by a petition containing 28,000 signatures, is aimed at the unchecked market of private firearm transactions, mostly over the Internet and at gun shows, that account for about 40% of firearm sales.

“I chose background checks, not because it would have prevented (the Virginia shooting) but because this would be easiest to pass,” Hope said. “We will not be able to prevent every single incident. We need to do something.”

But Keane said the legislative proposals commonly offered in the emotional wake of fatal shootings often do not account for specific circumstances leading up to the attacks.

“These things are being offered up before the person is even arrested or before (investigators) even know what happened,” Keane said. “For people concerned about their Second Amendment rights, the concern never goes away.”

 

Keane said the gun purchases prompted by calls for new restrictions are “certainly legitimate to the person exercising their fundamental civil liberties protected by the Second Amendment.”

“The concern that anti-gun politicians are seeking to infringe and restrict the right to keep and bear arms is very real and well-founded,” he said.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said there is risk during periods of increased sales when all purchases are not covered by background checks.

“When gun sales rise, more and more weapons find a set of dangerous hands to call home,” Gross said. “There are people in this country, people like felons, fugitives, and domestic abusers who we all agree simply should not have guns.”

 

 

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Gun Sales Rocket Higher on Black Friday

(CNN) –

The busiest shopping day of the year also saw a major boom for gun sales, with the federal background check system setting a record of more than 175,000 background checks Friday, according to the FBI.

The staggering number of checks — an average of almost three per second, nearly three times the daily average — falls on the shoulders of 600 FBI and contract call center employees who will endure 17-hour workdays in an attempt to complete the background reviews in three business days, as required by law, FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said.

“Traditionally, Black Friday is one of our busiest days for transaction volume,” Fischer said.

Indeed, Friday saw the highest number of background checks ever for a Black Friday, and second in history. The highest day on record was December 21, 2012, with more than 177,000 background checks.

On average, more than 500 gun background checks a day fail because of incomplete information required for a decision, according to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is responsible for checks on firearm purchases from federally licensed shops.

Employees of the background check agency, who work every day but Christmas, worked through the weekend to vet Friday’s purchases.

“We are averaging three checks per second,” Fischer said Friday afternoon, before the final numbers were in. “The challenge is to have staff keep up with this volume. We do that by limiting personal leave, asking employees to work extra shifts and reutilizing former … employees to serve in NICS during this busy period.”

The agency brings in 100 extra employees to deal with the increase.

“This means saving lives and protecting people from harm — by not letting guns fall into the wrong hands,” FBI Manager Kimberly Del Greco said in a statement. “It also ensures the timely transfer of firearms to eligible gun buyers.”

Overall, about 186,000 background checks a year cannot be completed, according to the FBI. It’s difficult to know exactly how many gun sales are authorized from that number because whether to make the sale is ultimately in the hands of the shop owner.

Last year, the agency completed 21 million background checks, and about 1.1% of those purchases were denied, the agency said.

Firearm background checks have doubled from the more than 9 million conducted when the system was implemented in 1999.

Ten factors can disqualify a purchase: felony conviction, arrest warrant, documented drug problem, mental illness, undocumented immigration status, dishonorable military discharge, renunciation of U.S. citizenship, restraining order, history of domestic violence or indictment for any crime punishable by longer than one year of prison.

Gun purchasers are required to fill out a form from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with basic identification information and questions about the 10 disqualifying factors.

 


 

The gun shop can read the information to the background check agency over the phone or run the information through a secure Internet connection. The check sometimes involves calling courthouses to get records and dispositions.

“We won’t make a determination unless we are absolutely sure,” Fischer said.

However, the agency cannot deny a transaction based on an arrest without knowing the disposition of a case.

After the three business days have passed, completion of the sale becomes the prerogative of the licensed gun shop owner, according to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1998

Fischer said major retailers such as Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Cabela’s and Gander Mountain usually won’t go through with the sale without complete information.

Gun sales hit new record

Background checks serve as a proxy for the number of gun sales, which soared in the months immediately after the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. But NICS checks plummeted in November and December compared with a year earlier, suggesting that the boom may be over.

“2013 was the best year for firearm sales (commercial, domestic) in history — period! That’s true for NH to Hawaii,” said Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association in Rindge, N.H. “Ruger alone sold well over one million guns this year.”

Mr. Feldman said to expect the next surge to be in bullets.

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FILE – Gun sales spiked after Sandy Hook and as Congress and … more >

“Ammunition will still be very strong in 2014 as it hasn’t caught up nationally with the demand,” he said.

Gun sales spiked as Congress and a number of states debated whether to impose more restrictions on firearms purchases after Sandy Hook. Congress stalemated, but some states moved forward.

Monthly gun checks set an all-time peak in December 2012, the same month as the school shooting. The next four highest monthly totals for the national background check system all were in 2013.


SEE ALSO: MILLER: Obama’s political agenda backfires, gun sales in 2013 smash all records


Virginia, which has its own Firearms Transaction Program, reported a similar trend with last year’s 479,253 background checks marking the highest total since the project began in 1989.

Gun sales don’t perfectly track with background checks.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jan/6/boom-for-guns-likely-to-trigger-rush-on-ammo/#ixzz2pjqBLdaS