Senators Ernst and Grassley Ask FBI To Increase Staffing For Black Friday

Gun Counter Sale Store Shop shutterstock_Nomad_Soul 1686855574.jpg
Gun Counter Sale Store Shop shutterstock_Nomad_Soul 1686855574.jpg

WASHINGTON, D.C. -( 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

John Crump

Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

My last Form 4 was 14 months but that was just before the new electronic submission. No reason that can’t be brought down to a week or two. Of course no good reason to exist at all …


My first was over 14 months. Latest one with electronic filing is now at 6 months. Besides the BS of this being an NFA concern, I haven’t seen anything sped up. I suspect Brandon has ordered ATF to slow walk the process.


I bought a Silencer Central 30 cal silencer last year. The e form 4 was filed in Oct 2021. I am still waiting.


Hopefully, many or even most of these people live in states where the NICS call-in b/g check is waived if they have a current CCW.

Last edited 21 days ago by Ope

That doesn’t work in Wa anymore to have a a CCW and get a firearm over the counter. Now has to go through your local police police dept. Takes 3-5 days.


Totbs, I too was shocked back in 2001 when purchasing a Win. 1300 Defender. First time in my life, i bought a firearm and couldn’t take it home the same day.


The idiot in the photo at the top has his finger on the trigger. Really promotes gun safety.


If I were looking at a pistol to possibly buy, I would, after the salesman checked it and I had again checked it, put my finger on the trigger and checked that trigger out real closely. That would probably mean dry firing it at least five times for travel, reset, and pounds of pull. Can’t tell for sure if it has a magazine installled, but it looks as though there may be a magazine on the counter behind the pistol. Calling BS on your promoting gun safety comment.


Oldman, under the circumstances of where this photo was taken, I agree.

Last edited 18 days ago by Ope