The FBI processed three background checks for gun purchases every second on Friday, as more than 144,000 shoppers were expected to buy firearms on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
As of 2 p.m. Friday, an FBI spokesperson told CNN that the agency had already processed “more than 94,000 transactions, on pace to surpass last year’s 144,758.” Approximately 3,000 checks or 2 percent will not be completed as a result of insufficient information, 71 receive instant approvals, and approximately 1.1 percent of purchasers fail the check. If the government cannot complete the background check in three business days, the buyer is allowed to purchase the gun anyway.
“The challenge is to have staff keep up with this volume. We do that by limiting personal leave, asking employees to work extra shifts and reutilizing former … employees to serve in NICS during this busy period,” spokesman Stephen Fischer told CNN. Since 1999, the pace of background checks has doubled and the FBI has completed 21 million background checks.
U.S. law prohibits individuals with “felony conviction, arrest warrant, documented drug problem, mental illness, undocumented immigration status, dishonorable military discharge, renunciation of U.S. citizenship, restraining order, history of domestic violence or indictment for any crime punishable by longer than one year of prison” from purchasing weapons at licensed dealers.
However, the system is far from perfect, as some states don’t feed enough real-time information into the criminal background check system, allowing individuals with troubled mental health histories or criminal records to pass checks and purchase weapons. Gun sales on the internet or at gun shows are also unregulated and do not require an FBI background examination.
The Associated Press estimates that in the U.S., “there are already nine guns for every 10 people, and someone is killed with a firearm every 16 minutes.”