Despite some predictions to the contrary in the weeks leading up to Black Friday 2016, the FBI reported the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) processed a record number 185,713 total background checks on November 25, the day after Thanksgiving – less than three weeks after the historic election of Republican Donald Trump as president.
The previous single highest day for NICS checks was Black Friday 2015, when 185,345 transactions took place on Nov. 28. The most recent Black Friday number reflects nearly three background checks taking place per second nationally.
Most observers agreed the spike in sales this year was buoyed more by deep discounts and special offers rather than politics or other trends.
Historically, the agency brings in 100 extra employees to deal with the increase during the heavy buying periods. Nearly 600 FBI and contract call center employees work up to 17-hours in an attempt to complete the background reviews in three business days, as required by law.
“Black Friday sales on guns, gun accessories and ammunition were the strongest we’ve seen in our 77-year history,” said Ryan Repp of Brownells. “Sales started off first thing Thanksgiving morning, actually, and continued at a record pace through Cyber Monday.
In addition to the record activity nationally, some states also posted significant levels of gun buying.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported it completed 10,122 background checks on Nov. 25, nearly 2,000 more than last year's 8,251.
And the Colorado Bureau of Investigations indicated 4,329 InstaCheck background checks were performed the Friday after Thanksgiving, compared to the previous record of 4,035 processed on Black Friday 2015.
While a NICS check does not precisely indicate the sale of individual firearms, it correlates closely and is considered by the industry as an accurate indicator of sales and demand. Based on varying state laws and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.