Clarification: In an earlier version of this story we reported consumers can purchase guns at gun shows with no background check at all.
That is true, only if you buy from a private seller.
But gun shows also feature federally licensed dealers, and if you buy a gun from one of them, then you do have to pass a background check.
Florida law also allows county governments to require background checks on private gun sales, but no Southwest Florida counties do so.
Black Friday is not just for deals on clothes and appliances. It also means big deals on guns and a backlog of background checks. But this year could break records.
It is a day that draws crowds to stores across the nation and gun stores are not exempt. Joe Dezendorf, the manager of Fowler Firearms and Gun Range, said the business is preparing for plenty of customer traffic in his store on Black Friday.
“As far as gun sales,” Dezendorf said, “those will always pick up because of the holidays.”
More firearm sales mean more background checks. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports an annual surge in background checks for Black Friday. But data shows background checks are already on the rise this year.
The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check system shows 2019 is the first year monthly checks have stayed at two million or more every month. That means this year’s Black Friday sales could help break a record.
Now, the highest number of background checks so far was reported back in 2016 through the FBI’s NICS system, with over 27.5 million background checks. This year so far, over 22.8 million background checks and that’s without Black Friday and the November and December totals.
Pamela Seay, a justice studies professor at Florida Gulf Coast University and a practicing attorney, said proposed gun laws and mass shootings are among several reasons for the increase.
“Black Friday and the other special sales for this time of year are going to encourage people to go out and purchase some type of weapon,” Seay said. “The possibility of greater control would certainly cause some people to want to go out and get their guns now.”
Now, it is a waiting game to see if this holiday season will bring the most background checks the FBI has seen national and in Lee County.
“We have increased in mass shootings,” Seay said. “We want to protect ourselves.”