WASHINGTON – The FBI is handling a surge in background checks this year after a series of mass shootings has renewed calls for more restrictive gun laws.
Some of the biggest spikes came in August and September after attacks in El Paso and Odessa, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left 38 people dead.
Past spikes in background checks, a rough barometer of gun sales, have been driven by fears that lawmakers would tighten gun laws.
“People respond to what they perceive as threats to their (Second Amendment) rights, and this has been going on since August,” said Larry Keane, general counsel for the firearms industry trade group National Shooting Sports Foundation.
While the FBI does not track gun sales – multiple firearms can be purchased in a single transaction – its National Instant Criminal Background Check System is a way to gauge market demand.