Over 2.4m gun background checks were initiated in January, topped only by last December’s 2.7m
Americans are lining up to buy guns in unprecedented numbers in the wake of the Newtown school shooting and the debate around tightening gun controls, with federal background checks on prospective buyers running at record levels.
New figures released by the FBI show that 2,495,440 gun background checks were initiated in January. That is the second highest number since records began in 1998, and is exceeded only by the entry for December 2012 which reached a peak of 2,783,765.
The Newtown shooting, in which 20 young children and six of their school carers were killed in Connecticut, occurred on 14 December.
Since 1998, anyone wanting to buy a firearm from a licensed dealer such as a gun shop must undergo a federal background check to ensure that they are not a criminal, mentally ill or otherwise disqualified from ownership. The check is carried out in reference to a national database, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System or NICS, operated by the FBI.
Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association, said the explanation for the dramatic spike in moves to buy guns was self-evident. “This one’s easy. If the American population thinks that a product that they want – whether firearms or DVDs – may not be available in the near future, they will go for it.”
In this case, what appears to be sparking a degree of panic buying are the proposals emanating from the White House and a bi-partisan group of US senators to ban a range of military-style assault weapons including the kind of AR-15 used by the Newtown shooter to wreak carnage at Sandy Hook elementary school. senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, has proposed reinstating the 1994 assault weapons ban that lapsed in 2004 with stronger wording that would take 158 specific models of semi-automatic assault rifles, shotguns and pistols off the market.
The FBI’s latest list of the top 10 highest days since 1998 in terms of the number of gun background checks initiated tells a dramatic story. The record was set with 177,170 requests for NICS checks on Friday, 21 December – exactly one week after the Newtown massacre.
Of the top 10 entries, all but two have been recorded on or since the day of the Newtown shooting.
The surge in gun buying is paradoxical, as President Obama appears to be softening his stance on an assault weapons ban in the face of considerable opposition from Republicans in both the Senate and crucially the House of Representatives where they hold the majority. In a speech on Monday in Minneapolis, he merely said that a revised ban “deserves a vote in Congress, because weapons of war have no place on our streets”.
The White House strategy seems to be to put most political capital on achieving a background check on all gun sales, which is seen as having better prospects of achieving Congressional approval. At the moment, private gun sellers working at gun shows or through the internet do not have to put their customers through the NICS database.
Advocates of greater gun controls point to that loophole as a major weakness in US defences against guns falling into the wrong hands. Some 40% of all gun sales are classified as private and therefore not subjected to FBI monitoring.
“Once again, the Trump administration chose gun industry profits over public safety.”
"Once again, the Trump administration chose gun industry profits over public safety."
Gun control advocates slammed the Trump administration Thursday for siding with gun manufacturers and lobbyists after the White House slashed the oversight process for exporting weapons overseas.
In a new rule entered into the Federal Register on Thursday, the administration shifted oversight of many arms exports from the U.S. State Department to the Department of Commerce, a move expected to boost sales of ammunition and weapons including sniper rifles, AR-15s, and other semi-automatic firearms.
One killed, several injured in Seattle mass shooting
At least one person was killed and seven others, including a child, were wounded on Wednesday after a dispute among a group of people escalated into a shootout near a tourist area in downtown Seattle, authorities said.
Carmen Best, chief of police in the northwestern US city, told reporters that multiple suspects were being sought in connection with the mass shooting that took place near a McDonald's fast food restaurant, just blocks away from the popular Pike Place Market.
It was the third shooting in the area in less than two days, and the latest incident of gun violence that has become all too common in the United States.
Company condemns employee who waved pro-sex assault sign at Richmond gun rally — while wearing Trump mask
A masked right-wing gun protester appeared at the Virginia Capitol in Richmond Monday for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Unfortunately for him, however, an employee witnessed the sign the man was carrying.
While he may have been wearing a Donald Trump mask, the logo of his company was still on his jacket, prompting a swift response from the company he works for.
"In response to an image posted on social media this morning, we want the public to know that we do not condone the beliefs and/or behavior in question, as they are in direct opposition to our core values of integrity, quality, relationships and safety. We strongly condemn the highly offensive language used and intent of a sign carried by a former employee wearing a Henderson, Inc. jacket. The insulting language does not reflect the integrity and other deeply held core values of our company," Henderson, Inc. said in a statement on Facebook.