The nation’s domestic intelligence and security service conducted the second highest number of gun background checks in history on Nov. 29.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed it performed 202,465 National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) firearm background checks on Black Friday. Official data shows the latest figure was almost as high as record 203,086 NICS checks that the bureau carried out on Nov. 24, 2017.
More people stockpiled weapons after Democratic presidential candidates demanded tighter restrictions on who can legally purchase a firearm.
The FBI conducted more than 25.4 million background checks as of the end of November, strongly suggesting a jump in gun sales that could see 2019 break the previous record of 27.5 million checks just three years earlier during the former Barack Obama administration according to the Associated Press.
The gun industry used the figures to clearly show U.S. citizens were exercising their right to bear arms that is guaranteed in the second amendment of the constitution.
“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,” National Shooting Sports Foundation spokesman Mark Oliva told the Associated Press.
The news agency agreed the NICS statistics were the “most reliable method of tracking the industry,” even though some purchases involve multiple firearms and certain states run checks on applications for concealed-carry permits.
Since 2016 the weapon industry has reported weaker sales that could reflect some angst among gun owners about potential gun control measures. The industry has struggled through one of its most difficult periods, with some gunmakers like Remington Arms filing for bankruptcy. Smith & Wesson’s parent company, American Outdoor Brands, recently announced plans to suspend production of AR-15 rifles and turn the firearms unit into an independent company through selling or distributing new shares of the existing business.
Presidential candidates from the Democratic Party have only exacerbated these concerns since almost all of them have supported taking a tougher stance on gun control to the 2020 general election.
“The politics of guns has changed a little bit over the last year,” University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law professor Adam Winkler told the Associated Press. “The Democratic presidential contenders are falling all over themselves to propose more aggressive gun reforms than their opponents … gunmakers are promoting the idea that you should buy these guns now because they may be banned in the future.”
The industry has received some encouragement from Donald Trump, who they consider to be one of the most gun-friendly presidents in modern history who openly supports the National Rifle Association (NRA). The president has addressed several of the NRA’s annual conventions since being elected. He also opposed a proposed ban on bump stocks, which allow semiautomatic rifles to mimic machine-gun fire.