Looking for a stocking stuffer for the gun owner in your life? Like in preceding years, many Americans decided to do their holiday shopping on Black Friday, and along with electronics and toys, firearms were at the top of the shopping list.
According to The Washington Post, the FBI said it processed more background checks for potential gun buyers on Black Friday this year than any other date in US history, easily beating last year’s Black Friday numbers with 185,345 requests processed.
“This was an approximate 5% increase over the 175,754 received on Black Friday 2014,” Stephen Fischer, the FBI’s chief of multimedia productions, wrote to USA Today. “The previous high for receipts were the 177,170 received on 12/21/2012.”
That date came shortly after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. At the time, many lawmakers pushed for additional gun control reforms, spurring one of the highest demands for firearms in recent memory. For months afterwards, gun sales were backlogged and stores were all but sold out of popular ammunition such as .22 LR, 5.56x45mm, and 9x19mm.
The craze may have died down, but demand is still high. According to the FBI, the agency ran about three background checks for every second last Friday. Requests that come through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) are typically run by 500 employees at the FBI’s criminal justice center in West Virginia, but the agency stated last year that it had to bring in 100 more employees to deal with the rush during Black Friday.
“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,” FBI spokesperson Stephen Fischer told CNN last year.
The agency will likely need to retain those employees through next month, which is one of the best months for firearm sales all year. Data from the NICS shows that since 1998, background checks for the month of December have consistently gone past one million requests, and in the last three years, past two million.