Iowa's two Republican senators are demanding the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assign additional staff to handle legal gun purchases on Black Friday – one of the top 10 days for gun sales and background checks.
Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst made their demand in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday. The two senators say they want to know how the Justice Department will ensure the FBI and ATF are properly preparing to handle the expected increase in legal gun purchases and background checks conducted through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System [NICS] expected during the holidays.
In their letter, they said: "Black Friday is less than a month away and reports already indicate the ATF is shorthanded and facing backlogs. The current wait time for approval of a paper Form 4, which is used to complete a tax stamp purchase, is one year, and an e-Form 4 is at least 180 days, some taking more than a year. The average processing time for an e-Form 4 has increased by 80 days since the enactment of the 'Frame or Receiver' final rule, which went into effect just over a month ago."
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry trade association, noted in Dec. 2021 that the FBI's NICS processed 687,788 background checks during the week leading up to and including Black Friday.
In a statement on its website, it said: "The FBI's NICS recorded 187,585 on Black Friday alone, ranking it among the top 10 Highest Days for NICS checks. The NICS checks are unadjusted, representing raw data from the FBI and are inclusive of all background checks related to firearms."
Grassley and Ernst, in their letter, said: "The record for most background checks processed in a single day was set on Black Friday in 2017, with 203,086 checks. It is safe to assume with almost certainty that gun purchases and background checks on Black Friday in 2022 will follow this trend."
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