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FBI does 3.2 million gun background checks in May marking 17th straight record month

Gun section in Stans Merry Mart, Wenatchee Washington. (Thayne Tuason/Wikimedia Commons)
June 03, 2021

FBI statistics show over 3.2 million firearm background checks were performed in May, marking the 17th consecutive month of record checks.

According to bureau figures, 3,222,105 NICS checks were conducted in the month of May alone, shattering last year’s record of 3,091,455.

The record-breaking numbers began back in January 2020. In March this year, a new single-month record was reached, totaling 4,691,738 and crushing the previous single-month record by more than 300,000 checks.

The almost 20 million background checks performed in the first five months of 2021 suggests the United States is on track for another record year of gun sales.

According to FBI statistics, 4,317,804 background checks were conducted in January, 3,442,777 in February, 4,691,738 in March, 3,514,070 in April, and 3,222,105 in May — totaling 19,188,494 in the first five months of 2021.

The number of background checks performed does not necessarily equal the number of firearms purchased in instances where a background check is not required, or multiple firearms are purchased at one time. However, the increase in checks shows that sales are also increasing.

The spike in firearm background checks comes as top lawmakers continue to push for new gun control measures.

Following the recent mass shooting that left 10 people dead in San Jose, Calif., President Joe Biden called on Congress to “take immediate action and heed the call of the American people, including the vast majority of gun owners, to help end this epidemic of gun violence in America.”

“I have the solemn duty of yet again of ordering the flag to be lowered at half-staff, just weeks after doing so following the mass shootings at spas in and around Atlanta; in a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado; at a home in Rock Hill, South Carolina; and at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana,” the president’s statement read, adding, “Enough.”

“Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation. We can, and we must, do more,” Biden continued.

On March 11, the House of Representatives passed two gun-control bills expanding federal background checks. The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 (H.R. 8) would criminalize private gun sales conducted without a background check and the Enhanced Backgrounds Checks Act (H.R. 1446) would allow the FBI to put a hold on transferring a firearm for a minimum of 10 days and up to 30 days, rather than the three days currently allowed by law.

The National Rifle Association suggested that the increase in background checks and gun sales are directly related to proposed gun control legislation, tweeting on March 31 that President Joe Biden was “good at two things: selling guns and driving up NRA membership.”