The FBI certainly has their hands full, seeing as over 200k requests for background checks came through on Friday. Every one of these requests came from hopeful people all across the nation wanting to purchase new guns.
This incredibly high amount of requests easily sets a record-high for the number of background check requests sent in on a single day.
In total, the FBI was filtering through just over 203,000 background check requests on Black Friday – this is an increase from the original record of 185,713 from last year’s Black Friday, and the record of 185,345 on the Black Friday of the year 2015.
According to Guns.com:
Gun checks, required for purchases at federally licensed firearm dealers, are not a measure of actual gun sales. The number of firearms sold Friday is likely higher because multiple firearms can be included in one transaction by a single buyer.
The surging numbers received by the bureau’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), comes just days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a sweeping review of the system, which allowed a court-martialed Air Force veteran to purchase the rifle used earlier this month to kill 25 people inside a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church.
The victims included a pregnant woman whose unborn child also died in the Nov. 5 massacre.
Following the shooting, the Air Force acknowledged it had not provided the FBI with details of the court martial, which likely would have blocked the 2016 sale of the murder weapon to Devin Kelley.
In a memo issued Wednesday, Sessions ordered the FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to review the NICS system.
The breakdown in the Kelley case highlighted longstanding problems within the system, which for more than 20 years has served as the centerpiece of the government’s effort to block criminals from obtaining firearms. Yet it has largely struggled to keep pace with the volume of firearm transactions and still properly maintain the databases of criminal and mental health records necessary to determine whether buyers are eligible to purchase guns.
Last year, the FBI official overseeing NICS was forced to transfer personnel from construction projects and units that oversee the gathering of crime statistics to keep up with the surge of requests for background checks. The office processed a record 27.5 million background checks in 2016.
Stephen Morris, a former assistant FBI director, told USA TODAY after the shooting that the NICS system has long been plagued by incomplete or outdated information.
In many cases, a background check may show a record of arrest, but there is no additional information to indicate whether the case was dismissed or resulted in a felony conviction which would prohibit a gun purchase.
The mere record of arrest is not enough to prohibit a gun sale, so FBI analysts must race to fill such information gaps within the three-day time period allotted for each check. The search sometimes requires inquiries to police departments, courthouses and prisons across the country to match final dispositions to the incomplete records.
In Kelley’s case, the Air Force not only failed to provide the record of his conviction — it also missed other potential opportunities to alert the FBI to Kelley’s legal troubles. Among them: his initial arrest on domestic abuse charges and his 2012 escape from a New Mexico behavioral health facility, where he was being treated for “mental disorders” in advance of a court martial proceeding.
Kelley, who was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., was regarded as “a danger to himself and others.” He had been caught sneaking firearms onto the base and had lodged death threats against his military superiors.
The Air Force has said it is investigating the breakdown. The Pentagon also is reviewing the case to determine, in part, whether the military should supply arrest records or other types of information to the FBI.
Another mass shooter, who killed four people in California earlier this month, also was barred from gun ownership but was able to evade detection by assembling his own rifles by purchasing components from online sources.
“People should not be able to make their own assault weapons and other guns when those individuals are dangerous and legally barred from buying guns,” said Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
The center, named for former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a 2011 assassination attempt, has called for tighter restrictions on such gun part suppliers.
“Companies that are more worried about making money than the safety of the public or law enforcement officials sworn to protect them shouldn’t be given a platform to sell their products,” Thomas said. “It’s time to turn off the lights on these sites so these companies won’t be able to enable illegal gun trafficking or the next mass shooting.”
Federal authorities have also had a difficult time of it for the past few years. After all, many of them have been complaining that factors such as incomplete databases and shortages in staffing make it extremely challenging to keep up with the overwhelming flood of background checks consistently coming in during this time of year.
These factors have also made it incredibly difficult for federal authorities to effectively trace firearms that shooters use in crimes.
According to Sessions, the Texas shooting is an example of how relevant information might not be efficiently making its way to the NICS – an idea that is both terrifying and unacceptable.