- The Washington Times
Tuesday, November 29, 2016

It wasn’t just electronics and toys that bargain hunters sought on Black Friday — guns also appear to have been on many shoppers’ wish lists.

This year’s Black Friday set a single-day record for the number of FBI firearms background checks.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System processed 185,713 transactions, surpassing the previous single-day record set on Black Friday 2015, said FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer. The previous record was 185,345 checks in one day.

The background checks are conducted through the NICS system for gun purchases from federal firearms licensees and for permits to carry guns. Although each check does not equate to a purchase, the data serve as an indicator of gun sale trends in the U.S.

The number of background checks conducted across the country has increased at a record pace in recent years, with the 23.1 million checks reported by the FBI in 2015 eclipsing the previous record of nearly 21.1 million checks in 2013.

The number tends to increase around the holidays, with Dec. 21, 2012, and Black Friday 2014 rounding out the third and fourth spots for the most background checks conducted on a single day. The FBI reports 177,170 checks and 175,754 checks conducted on those days, respectively.

Background checks were up before the Nov. 8 presidential election, and advocacy groups attributed the uptick to fear that Democrat Hillary Clinton would win and pursue gun control initiatives.

But with this year’s surge in checks on the traditional biggest shopping day of the year, the surprise win by Republican Donald Trump — who has said he is in favor of empowering gun owners to defend themselves — appears not to have tempered buyers’ appetites.

After Mr. Trump’s win, Gun Owners of America spokesman Eddie Isler said he expects background checks and sales to remain steady in the short term.

“I think there is relief from some people that Hillary didn’t get it,” he said. “I’m pretty sure it will slow down, though not to a great degree.”

Mr. Isler said Second Amendment advocates are unlikely to feel the same pressure to stock up on firearms in a Trump administration as they have done under President Obama — often out of concern that weapons would be more difficult to obtain because of expansion of background checks or other gun control policies.

Gun enthusiasts may have been tempted to splurge on Black Friday simply to take advantage of the discounts and specials advertised by sporting goods and firearms stores across the country.

“I would probably attribute it to good deals,” Mr. Isler said of the Black Friday record.

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