The number of FBI background checks required for Americans buying guns set a record in December, as the Connecticut school massacre stirred interest in self-defense and prompted renewed talk of limits on firearms, according to FBI data.
The FBI said it recorded 2.8 million background checks during the month, surpassing the mark set in November of 2 million checks. The number was up 49 percent over December 2011, when the FBI performed a then-record 1.9 million checks.
Consumer demand for guns appears to have accounted for the uptick in activity. There were no changes in FBI background check procedures that would have affected the December numbers, FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said.
The figures do not represent the number of firearms sold – a statistic the government does not track. They also do not reflect activity between private parties, such as family members or collectors, because federal law requires background checks only for sales from commercial vendors with a federal license.
FBI checks for all of 2012 totaled 19.6 million, an annual record and an increase of 19 percent over 2011.
President Obama and gun control
Since the tragedy in Connecticut, U.S. President Barack Obama has committed to pushing new legislation, possibly including a proposed ban on some semi-automatic weapons, this year.
Obama explained that he’s still supporting raising the regulations on background checks and introducing a ban on assault rifles and high capacity magazines. But he acknowledged that the only way this is going to get done is if people continue to be passionate about gun reform. ”Here’s the bottom line: We’re not going to get this done unless the American people decide it’s important,” he said. “Ultimately, the way this is going to happen is because the American people say, ‘That’s right. We are willing to make different choices for the country and we support those in Congress who are willing to take those actions.’”