With three months still left in the year, new data released from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) show that both the nation and Texas have set a new record on the number of background checks, which includes those conducted for permits and the sale of handguns or long guns.
After September, the number of background checks processed through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for 2020 reached 28.8 million nationally and 1.73 million in Texas.
The nation’s previous year-long record number of NICS checks was 28.4 million last year, and Texas reached 1.72 million checks in 2017.
Last month’s numbers were down from the record highs set earlier this year, with 2.8 million checks conducted nationally and 178,000 in Texas.
While those numbers make September the third lowest month this year just behind January and February, they also represent the highest number of checks conducted during the month of September since the system was put in place about 20 years ago.
Nationally, the previous September record was last year with 2.2 million checks, and Texas’ prior record for the month was in 2017 with 128,000.
NICS checks in Texas reached an all-time monthly high earlier this year in March amid the start of government-mandated coronavirus lockdowns.
While the number of checks in Texas for License to Carry applications and handguns continued declining between August and September by about 3,000 and 9,000 checks respectively, the number of checks for long guns continued trending upward from 44,000 to 46,000.
Across the country, new permit applications and handgun checks likewise declined while long gun checks increased.
The new record of background checks that 2020 reached was undoubtedly due to the perfect storm of events during this year: the coronavirus pandemic, government lockdowns, protests and violent riots, and a presidential election.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.