The number of firearm sales prohibited due to customers failing background checks hit a record high last year with more than 300,000 sales prevented, with more than 40% of those attempted purchases being made by people with prior felony convictions.
Everytown for Gun Safety found, based on data from the FBI that they shared with the Associated Press, that background checks prevented almost twice the number of gun sales in 2020 as they did in the prior year. They also found that 42% of those purchases were blocked because the person attempting to buy the firearm had felony convictions in the past.
“There’s no question that background checks work, but the system is working overtime to prevent a record number of people with dangerous prohibitors from being able to buy firearms,” Everytown’s director of research, Sarah Burd-Sharps, said in a statement. “The loopholes in the law allow people to avoid the system, even if they just meet online or at a gun show for the first time.”
CNN reports that gun sales surged in 2020, with almost 23 million sold last year according to the consulting firm Small Arms Analytics, a 65% increase from the year before, when just under 14 million were sold.
The rate of barred attempted gun customers increased by about 0.2% from the last year, which University of California Los Angeles law professor Adam Winkler said could be because people who attempted to buy a gun last year were trying to do so for the first time and may not have known they were prohibited from owning a firearm.
“Some may have a felony conviction on their record and not think about it,” he said.
Winkler noted that while lying on a background check is a felony that can carry up to 10 years in prison and a substantial fine, very few people actually end up being prosecuted for giving false information.
Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said that part of the reason for the rise in denials is that states have updated their records of restricted people, and some could also be false positives.
"A day doesn't go by that our office doesn't get complaint calls from people who've been denied wrongly," he said.
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