Recently released FBI data indicates that a record number of people may be purchasing firearms in the United States. At a minimum, the data shows that there were a record number of firearm background checks in 2015, suggesting that more people than ever are looking to buy guns.
According to information gleaned from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), there were more than 23 million weapons-related background checks in 2015, an increase of more than two million over the previous year.
The NICS is used anytime a person tries to buy a firearm from a licensed firearms dealer. The background check is performed in accordance with the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (aka “the Brady Act”), which was passed in 1994 in response to growing concerns about gun crimes throughout the country.
The upward trend of firearms background checks has alarmed some people who are calling for tighter gun control laws in the aftermath of much-publicized mass shootings in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. In 2014, gun-related background checks declined for the first time in more than 10 years; now background checks are on the rise again, possibly in response to the same mass shootings cited by lawmakers pushing for stricter enforcement of existing gun laws. Some licensed gun dealers noticed their business increase to a significant degree shortly after the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, California and Paris, France at the end of 2015.
The fact is that gun background checks do not necessarily correlate to the actual number of guns being sold in the U.S. In all likelihood, gun sales are probably much higher. For one thing, some gun purchasers who go through the NICS background checks wind up buying multiple weapons. Additionally, many prospective gun buyers look to make their purchases via a private sale, the kind of transaction that is not covered by the Brady Act and that does not require an NICS background check.
For additional information about the rising number of firearms background checks, access the Washington Free Beacon article, “2015: The Year of the Gun.”
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