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Washington - FBI: Gun Purchasers Set New Record In December

Published on: January 2, 2013 06:40 PM
By: Reuters
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Washington - The number of FBI background checks required for Americans buying guns set a record in December, indicating that more people may purchase one after the Connecticut school massacre stirred interest in self-defense and prompted renewed talk of limits on firearms, according to FBI data.

The FBI said it recorded 2.78 million background checks during the month, surpassing the mark set in November of 2.01 million checks - about a 39 percent rise.

The latest monthly figure was up 49 percent over December 2011, when the FBI performed a then-record 1.86 million checks.

Consumer demand for guns appears to have accounted for the uptick in activity. There were no changes in FBI background check procedures that would have affected the December numbers, FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said.

December is typically the busiest month of the year for checks, however, due in part to Christmas gift sales.

The figures do not represent the number of firearms sold, a statistic the government does not track. They also do not reflect activity between private parties, such as family members or collectors, because federal law requires background checks only for sales from commercial vendors with a federal license.

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Someone who passes a background check is eligible to buy multiple firearms.

FBI checks for all of 2012 totaled 19.6 million, an annual record and an increase of 19 percent over 2011.

The FBI system - known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) - “processed transactions following normal established protocols,” Fischer said in an email.

The national debate on guns has grown more intense since December 14, when Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 20 children and six adults before committing suicide in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

Lanza also killed his mother, the registered owner of the guns used in the killings, before going to the school.

SHOOTINGS LEAD TO SALES

Interest in guns tends to increase after a mass shooting, as customers fear for personal safety or worry that lawmakers might ban certain firearms.

President Barack Obama has committed to pushing new legislation, possibly including a ban on some semi-automatic weapons, this year.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for firearms-makers, estimates the size of the industry at $4 billion a year. A spokesman for the association did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Shares of gun maker Smith & Wesson Holding Corp were up 1.2 percent at $8.54 at Wednesday’s close, while those of Sturm Ruger & Co Inc were up 1.1 percent at $45.88, during a broad rally in which the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 2.5 percent.

Neither company responded to requests for comment.

“The last eight years (have) been very good to be a handgun company. The market has expanded significantly, and long guns having done pretty good, as well,” said Smith & Wesson Chief Executive James Debney at a December 12 conference for investors.

The pattern of gun sales rising after a mass shooting is disturbing, said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, a Washington group that favors gun control.

“While the majority of Americans look for solutions to stop the next attack, a minority of gun owners runs to hoard the very guns used in the most recent” incidents, Sugarmann said in an email.

Even as gun purchases rise, the share of U.S. households with a gun has been falling for decades, from 54 percent in 1977 to 32 percent in 2010, according to the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey.


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Read Comments (13)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 02, 2013 at 07:04 PM Worried sick in NY Says:

Except in our lunatic state of NY...where safety is NOT a priority for lawmakers.

Seriously considering getting the #### out of this state. Criminals have guns at their disposal but if I, John Q. Upstanding Citizen, use one in the line of self defense, I go to jail for a million years because I didn't get a license for it....Explain the logic and explain why NY doesn't feel that my constitutional right to protect myself applies in our state.

2

 Jan 02, 2013 at 08:06 PM Realistic Says:

Reply to #1  
Worried sick in NY Says:

Except in our lunatic state of NY...where safety is NOT a priority for lawmakers.

Seriously considering getting the #### out of this state. Criminals have guns at their disposal but if I, John Q. Upstanding Citizen, use one in the line of self defense, I go to jail for a million years because I didn't get a license for it....Explain the logic and explain why NY doesn't feel that my constitutional right to protect myself applies in our state.

Do you see more murders in NY then the rest of the United States.

3

 Jan 02, 2013 at 08:17 PM Anonymous Says:

uh-oh, the liberals wont be happy with this report

4

 Jan 02, 2013 at 08:30 PM Elchonon Says:

Numbers are in no way accurate, firstly how is 2.78 million "a small %"

2nd, I have a florida concealed permit to I dont need a backrond check when I buy..

i'd assume that about 5 million guns were sold in dec.

5

 Jan 02, 2013 at 08:54 PM ayinglefunadorf Says:

Reply to #1  
Worried sick in NY Says:

Except in our lunatic state of NY...where safety is NOT a priority for lawmakers.

Seriously considering getting the #### out of this state. Criminals have guns at their disposal but if I, John Q. Upstanding Citizen, use one in the line of self defense, I go to jail for a million years because I didn't get a license for it....Explain the logic and explain why NY doesn't feel that my constitutional right to protect myself applies in our state.

"Explain the logic" Because the chances of you defending yourself is near 0. Much more likely someone with your licensed gun will kill 20 children. It happened before. So the State recognizes the RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO LIVE (20 children etc) before yours to own a gun

6

 Jan 02, 2013 at 08:58 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

uh-oh, the liberals wont be happy with this report

"Liberals wont be happy" I am happy. 3 million out of 300 million. Its time the 297 million speak up. Obama will do it. He got the 97%of the peoples taxes reduced. Now he needs to protect the 97% Normals who dont need a gun to live, eat, work,learn etc.

7

 Jan 02, 2013 at 09:17 PM Texas_Eli Says:

A few things:
#1, as mention, holders of Concealed Handgun Licenses usually don't need background checks - and there are millions of CHL holders.
#2, you can buy multiple firearms on a single background check.
#3, With 2,780,000 NICS checks run, you can safely assume at least 3,000,000 more firearms in circulation. G-d bless America!

8

 Jan 02, 2013 at 09:24 PM elchonon Says:

Lol #6 more like 40%

9

 Jan 02, 2013 at 09:28 PM elchonon Says:

#5 dont like, there is 1 mass shooting a year, and 100k ppl defend themselfs with guns a year, midvar sheker tirchak!

10

 Jan 03, 2013 at 12:17 AM I_Am_Me Says:

The same way you can not keep a dangerous dog in your home you can not keep a dangerous weapon in your home

11

 Jan 03, 2013 at 06:17 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

"Liberals wont be happy" I am happy. 3 million out of 300 million. Its time the 297 million speak up. Obama will do it. He got the 97%of the peoples taxes reduced. Now he needs to protect the 97% Normals who dont need a gun to live, eat, work,learn etc.

not sure what bubble you live in, but everyones taxes are going up, well that is everyone that WORKS and that doesn't live off the government,
when your taxes go up, think about the $1,500,000,000(thats billions) we the working class pay to shuttle obama around like a king every year, him his wife, his kids, vacations in mexico, france.......................

people with gun permits aren't the ones running around killing people, its crazy people that do not have gun permits, they should be locked up, case in point chicago over 500 murders there last year, NOT ONE MUDERE WAS DONE WITH SOMEONE WITH A GUN PERMIT

12

 Jan 03, 2013 at 02:03 PM Benny Says:

To #10
You are smart Alek
You shouldn't have knifes, hummers and screwdrivers in your home either

13

 Jan 03, 2013 at 02:54 PM ShmuelG Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

not sure what bubble you live in, but everyones taxes are going up, well that is everyone that WORKS and that doesn't live off the government,
when your taxes go up, think about the $1,500,000,000(thats billions) we the working class pay to shuttle obama around like a king every year, him his wife, his kids, vacations in mexico, france.......................

people with gun permits aren't the ones running around killing people, its crazy people that do not have gun permits, they should be locked up, case in point chicago over 500 murders there last year, NOT ONE MUDERE WAS DONE WITH SOMEONE WITH A GUN PERMIT

“ not sure what bubble you live in"

Well, obviously Anonymous #6 is one of those parasites who contribute nothing and live at the expense of the productive. So to his limited mind it may very well seem plausible that 97% will have their taxes reduced when only 53% are paying them in the first place (and all of those will surely have them increased).

14

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