Black Friday gun background checks second-highest in recorded history

The FBI ran the second-highest number of gun background checks on Black Friday 2019, which is an 11 percent increase from the previous year and an indication that firearm sales are on the rise, officials said.

The agency conducted 202,465 gun background checks on Nov. 29, 2019, which is the second-highest number seen since the bureau implemented the checks in 1998. This year's big-shopping day is second only to Black Friday 2017, when the FBI ran 203,086 checks, records show.

Black Friday’s numbers were 11 percent higher than 2018, when 182,093 checks were fielded, according to the data.

Though the agency’s background check data typically includes permit checks and re-checks and is, therefore, higher than the number of actual gun sales, it is often indicative of trends in sales in the firearm industry.


Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, called the FBI’s gun background check records the closest barometer available to gauge firearms sales.

“This tells us Americans are voting with their wallets when it comes to their ability to exercise Second Amendment rights,” he told FOX Business. “Interestingly, Americans are turning out to buy the firearms they want in increasing numbers even as politicians on the national stage and in some states are increasingly vocal on restricting Second Amendment rights.”

Oliva said the decision to buy a firearm is not “made on a whim,” instead describing it as a “significant investment."

Courtney Manwaring holds an AR-15 semi-automatic gun at Action Target in Springville, Utah. (File photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

“Americans are choosing to invest their hard-earned dollars in their ability [to] exercise their rights and buy the firearms they want before gun control politicians attempt to regulate away that ability,” Olivia said.

Roughly 1.2 million firearms were sold nationwide in October 2019, a 10.8 percent increase from October 2018, according to arms and ammo analytics research consultancy Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting. September’s sales were estimated to be about 1.1 million, an increase of nearly 11 percent from the same period a year ago.

Data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System shows the agency performed 2.4 million background checks for potential gun purchasers in October 2019, which is the highest number of checks recorded by the agency for that month. The second-highest recorded year for October’s background checks was 2016, when 2.3 million checks were conducted.

Semi-automatic AR-15's are for sale at Good Guys Guns & Range on February 15, 2018 in Orem, Utah. (George Frey/Getty Images)

Gun sales are expected to spike this holiday season amid public and political pressure for stricter gun control laws.

In the past five years, there have been at least 33 mass shootings, which are defined as those in which four or more people were killed, not including the shooter, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Democratic presidential contenders have since come out strong against certain kinds of firearms, or in favor of stronger gun control practices, and some retail chains, including Dick's Sporting Goods, have since opted not to sell them.

In September, nearly 150 business executives called on Senate to pass legislation to enforce stricter firearm background checks and stronger gun laws.