Gun background checks hit a new record this Black Friday, with the FBI receiving over 200,000 new requests amid the busy holiday season.
In all, the bureau was inundated with 203,086 background check requests for firearm sales Friday, a noteworthy increase from last year’s single-day high of 185,713 and 185,345 back in 2015, USA TODAY reported. While gun checks are not a measure of actual gun sales, the FBI noted that the number of guns sold on Friday likely surpassed the number of checks, as a single background request can cover multiple weapons in a single transaction.
The surging numbers come as the U.S. grapples with a rash of deadly mass shootings, the most recent at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where a gunman opened fire on the congregation, killing 25. Victims of the Nov. 5 massacre included a pregnant woman whose unborn child was also killed.
The tragedy recently prompted Attorney General Jeff Sessions to order an extensive review of the bureau’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which allowed Air Force veteran Devin Kelley to purchase the firearms used in the massacre. The Air Force admitted that it failed to send crucial information to the NICS, including the gunman’s prior court-martial conviction for assaulting his wife and her infant son. Such details would have likely blocked him from purchasing an assault rifle in 2016.
The background checking system has reportedly been overburdened for years, forcing an FBI official overseeing the NICS to divert resources from construction and crime-tracking units to help process the 27.5 million background checks received in 2016, according to the newspaper.
“We know from recent events that the background system itself has some flaws and gaps because it doesn’t have the accurate records in it,” Avery Gardiner, co-president of the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence, told the New York Daily News. “First thing you’ve got to do is make sure all gun sales are covered by background checks.”
However, USA TODAY noted that while a background check may show an arrest record, it doesn’t provide additional details on whether the case was resolved or resulted in a felony conviction, which would’ve also blocked a gun purchase.
“[It] is critical for us to be able to keep guns out of the hands of those that are prohibited from owning them,” Sessions said last week after ordering the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to review the NICS system.
The Texas church massacre has “revealed that that relevant information may not be getting reported to the NICS — this is alarming and it is unacceptable.”