Thursday, November 27, 2014

Black Friday is America's premier gun-buying day

(Image taken from the Washington Post)

As many Americans know, Black Friday is a time of sales, and because of that, the perfect time to go holiday shopping. Americans wake up early to buy various products. Popular items are toys, clothes, and appliances. And surprisingly, so are guns. A study by the FBI has concluded that "of the 10 days on which the FBI has conducted the most background checks since December 1998, two are the last two Black Fridays."

After the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012, the number of firearm background checks in December 2012 was 2,783, 765 background checks, which is almost 800,000 more background checks than the amount conducted in November 2012. Most of the other years, the difference in background checks from November to December has only been around 200,00 background checks. So why the giant difference between November and December in 2012? According to this article, the reason for this is that fears of anticipated talks about gun control after the  Sandy Hook shooting would cause massive numbers of firearms to be taken off the shelves.

Actually, this large amount of background checks can be a problem for the government. If there are too many background check requests, the FBI would be unable to process all requests. The NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) has a legal window of only three business days to determine if the buyer of a firearm is eligible or not. So if the NICS cannot determine a buyer's eligibility within the designated window, the buyer can purchase the firearm without a background check, and it's completely legal. Due to this window, 186,000 people did not have to go through a background check to purchase firearms in 2013.

More on gun sales and background checks: FBI data shows thousands of gun sales beat checks

Should the window to determine a firearm buyer's eligibility be extended? If so, to what extent?

Why do you think it is legal to allow people to purchase a firearm without a background check after the window has passed?


Jeremiah Rondeau said...

The fact that lots of guns are sold on the biggest shopping day of the year is not at all surprising. Although it may seem foreign to those who grew up in the San Fransisco area, in much of country ammunition can be found at grocery stores and pharmacies.

The amount of guns in America is at an all-time high, and growing rapidly (over 300 million, growing at 10+ million/year). Anyone can get an unregistered weapon, oftentimes legally.

Imagine if a class in the Midwest was debating small tweaks to DEA policy that would surely stop Californian teens from getting weed. That's about how relevant these rules are.

ElizabethZhou7 said...

I think it is legal for people to purchase firearms without a background check simply because having universal background checks is both tedious and unnecessary to some people, as it would take too much time considering how many people buy guns annually. Yet we should have background checks on every person who purchases a firearm in order to make sure they don't fall into the wrong hands, especially those with a history of mental illnesses. But this may not always be the case as people who are perfectly fine could also commit dangerous acts. Despite this, I still find that the window should be extended to at least a week, as three days just seems too little. A week will make a huge difference in allowing the NICS to process more background checks on those purchasing firearms.

Anonymous said...

The AP article is a little misleading in their description of the NICS ¬background checks, mentioning only the 3 day window that requires the NICS examiners to complete their review. However, according to the NICS website, a vast majority of the background checks are completed instantly due to absolutely no matches to prohibiting records. (And in the opposite case, people who do match prohibiting records are denied the guns.) People who may match with prohibitive data usually require more research and information from NICS, and that’s what the 3 day window is for. If the review isn’t complete by the third day, the NICS “does not prohibit the transfer of the firearm,” but the dealer chooses whether to transfer over the gun or not. Additionally, even if the delayed check isn’t completed, the NICS still has 88 days to thoroughly complete its review.
An extension of the window could help the NICS a little, but ultimately I don’t think it would make that much of a difference, considering the 88 day period it has before the firearm transaction is purged. I think it will become more necessary as the number of gun sales rise, though.

kendrick tse said...

I think that there should be some type of back ground check on those who want to purchase a fire arm. However, on a day like black Friday, the amount of consumers in the market for a fire arms is simply too much for tedious background checks. I think on a day such as black Friday there should be a shortened background check to immediately eliminate any buyers who have a criminal record or any type of history that may imply misuse of a fire arm. This would speed up the process and get more basic checks on more buyers without increase the amount of resources needed.
To answer the second question, I think that if there is a designated wait period and that period has passed there is nothing to stop buyers after the three day period. Buyers and sellers would be unsatisfied with any type of blockade after the established three day background check. If the time period was extended this would help but I am not sure to what extent.

Anonymous said...

As stated previously, many people who go through the process of getting a background check make it through almost instantly due to their non-existant criminal record. However, I do agree that extending the period to a week would be beneficial to the NICS in order to complete a thorough background check on suspicious individuals. I am not that surprised that gun-buying is a popular thing to do on Black Friday, because as Jeremaih stated, ammunition is not hard to find in many parts of the country (in fact, you can get some ammo at Wallmart).

Brendan Vroom 6 said...

I think that the failure to check 186,000 firearm customers is highly concerning. While the vast majority of these purchases are made for recreational purposes by civilians with no past criminal history, the idea that a potential mass shooter could avoid a background check is frightening. I agree with Jeremiah, that it isn't too difficult to get an unregistered weapon legally, but I also believe that this issue should be addressed with more emphatically. The amount of mass shootings in the United States is certainly on an upward trend, as proved by this article ( and I feel that measures need to be taken in order to stymie this. While I believe that adding new gun restrictions is unrealistic at this time, I think that stricter enforcement of current regulations should take place.

Alex Li said...

The window to determine a buyer's eligibility should be extended. Although it probably won't make much of a difference in most cases, it is better to be safe than sorry. Mass shootings in this country becoming increasingly common, so any kind of effort, no matter how pointless it may seem given the fact that people with evil intent to commit crimes with firearms will obtain firearms no matter what restrictions the government implements, is worth it. Passing new legislation related to gun control realistically will have no immediate effect, but if the government continues to make bills regarding gun control we can only hope that it will alter the mindset of prospective criminals.