Black Friday turned out to be a good day for guns as they competed for attention with XBoxes, flat monitor televisions, and Tickle Me Elmos in many retail businesses across the United States. On an ordinary day, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System processes one background check per second. On a typical Black Friday, that number increases to two. This Black Friday’s gun sales surpassed all previous ones as the FBI processed an average of three background checks per second. According to CNN, this year’s gun sales exceeded last year’s figure of 144,78.
Stephen Fischer, FBI spokesperson, said the department has added some contract workers to its team, bringing the number to 600 workers in order to handle the high volume of requests from gun stores this Black Friday weekend. They are expecting to work long hours in order to complete the checks within three days. There are more than 48,000 gun stores in the U.S.
Kimberly Del Greco, a manager at the FBI, said that the background checks were meant to ensure that guns do not fall into wrong hands and end up harming people. Increasing the staff during the Black Friday weekend was a good decision as it ensured that gun businesses that apply for background checks on behalf of their customers get the results in a timely manner.
The FBI started conducting background checks for those interested in buying guns in 1999. It processed more than million applications that year. That number has doubled since then. Potential gun buyers provide basic identification information on a form provided by the Bureau of Firearms, Tobacco, and Alcohol. Retailers can communicate the information to FBI over the phone or through a secure internet connection.
The FBI looks at several factors before approving an application to buy a firearm. They include a history of mental illness, undocumented status, restraining order, dishonorable military discharge, arrest warrant, felony conviction, renunciation of U.S. citizenship, indictment leading to a jail sentence of more than one year, documented drug problem, or if the applicant has a restraining order.
Fischer said the FBI makes every effort to ensure that all applications receive due diligence, and that approvals or denials were made only when the department was sure that it has considered all the facts. The department estimates that approximately 2 percent of those applying to buy guns will be denied due to insufficient information on their application forms. An official said more than 19 million background checks were approved in 2013.
The requirement for background check came into effect following John Hinckley’s assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981. President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in to law in 1993.
The Act was named after James Brady, who was President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary at the time of the assassination attempt. He was shot in the head during the attack. He survived and became a vocal supporter of gun-control.
FOX NEWS reported that a man died of a self-inflicted wound after fatally shooting a woman in a Nordstrom store in downtown Chicago on Black Friday. It is not known if the man had a license to carry a gun. The Brady Law theoretically ensures that even as businesses make good profits from gun purchases on Black Friday, the guns fall into the hands of only those who are likely to use them for lawful reasons.
By Benedicto Ateku