The FBI posted a nearly 8% decline in background checks for Black Friday gun purchases, even as the coronavirus pandemic, volatile social protests and election-year politics have driven a year-long surge in firearm sales.
While the 186,645 checks represented a slight drop from 2019, this year’s number still marked the fourth-largest one day total on record.
Background checks, required for purchases at federally licensed firearm dealers, are not a measure of actual gun sales, but the National Instant Criminal Background Check System is a way to gauge market demand. The number of firearms sold Friday is likely higher because multiple firearms can be included in one transaction by a single buyer.
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Black Friday traditionally has been one of the busiest for FBI analysts, but this has already been a shattering year in which the FBI has posted 32.1 million checks so far as the deadly virus has fueled public fear and President Donald Trump has repeatedly warned that Biden’s election would threaten gun rights.
Six times this year, the monthly check numbers surpassed 3 million, while the June number fell just short of 4 million.