WASHINGTON, D.C. -(Ammoland.com)- Republican Senators Jodi Ernst and Chuck Grassley have written United States Attorney General Merrick Garland asking him to increase staffing on Black Friday for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
The letter reads: “The day after Thanksgiving is typically the biggest day of the year for gun purchases. Therefore, retailers rely heavily on background checks through the Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to assure they are not transferring a firearm to a prohibited person.”
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving when retailers traditionally hold their most significant sales of the year. The day gets its name because it was when most retailers would start showing a profit for the year, thus crossing out of the red and into the black. Although that is not necessarily the case anymore with the rise of retail giants like Amazon, millions of Americans still head out to scoop up deals and start Christmas shopping on the day after Thanksgiving.
The gun industry is not immune from the Black Friday pandemonium. Gun shops do run door-buster specials on firearms on Black Friday, and American gun buyers seek these deals. The letter points out that last year’s Black Friday saw 187,585 inquiries to NICS. The number ranks the unofficial holiday in the top ten days for the number of inquiries ever. The single-day record for NICS inquiries was set on Black Friday in 2017 when the system was accessed 203,086 times.
The Senators see this trend of checks continuing this year and worry that the FBI will not be able to keep up with the demand leading to delays. Even though NICS has been touted as “instant,” that isn’t always the case. Thousands of Americans are delayed for days at a time every year. An influx of gun sales can overwhelm the system and slow approvals to a crawl.
The two Senators claim that “the FBI is notoriously understaffed on Black Friday.” That claim is rooted in reality. Many federal employees take off the day after Thanksgiving even though it is not a federal holiday leaving only a skeleton crew to work on Black Friday. The Senators seek to change that practice.
They want the FBI to start preparing now for the onslaught of NICS inquiries. Not only do the Senators want increased staffing from the FBI, but they also request increased staffing from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). They point to the delays in processing Form 4s by the ATF. The Form 4 is used to transfer items regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA). The majority of these are suppressors.
According to the letter, the average wait time for eForm 4 is 180 days. Silencer Shop claims that the wait is eight months. The ATF promised to get the wait times down to 90 days. The Bureau is nowhere near its goal and is trending in the opposite direction. The Senators call out the ATF for falling behind.
The Senators request that the FBI and ATF develop a plan to ensure they are adequately staffed to deal with the backlog on Black Friday. They ask the United States Department of Justice to answer their letter by November 18.
There is no confirmation on the number of FBI employees working on Black Friday, but if the past is any indication, gun buyers will face delays when trying to exercise their right to buy a gun.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.