Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

Gun checks top two million for fourth-straight month

FBI background checks on gun sales have topped two million in each of the past four months

Story highlights

  • FBI background checks totaled more than 2.3 million in February
  • Checks hit record in December
  • Just over 1 percent of checks result in rejection so far this year
  • Check rate soars as Washington debates new gun control measures

FBI background checks on gun sales have now topped two million in each of the past four months, according to the latest figures made available on Monday.

Although the law enforcement agency does not offer public analysis of its figures, the high check rate occurs amid debate in Washington over new gun control measures mainly in response to December's school shooting in Connecticut.

The agency performed more than 2.3 million checks in February using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

'Universal background check:' What does it mean?

The numbers do not reveal how many guns were purchased because some buyers could have bought more than one.

The monthly record of 2.7 million occurred in December. January was the second-highest month at 2.4 million. Prior to November, the number of monthly FBI background checks had never exceeded 1.8 million.

As of Sunday, the number of checks so far this year that resulted in rejections totaled 20,004, or almost 1.3 percent, according to the FBI.

High numbers of background checks are usually seen during the holiday shopping months of November and December. There also is often a spike in checks after a dramatic incident of gun violence.

The numbers usually decline in January. But that hasn't happened this year.

President Barack Obama and some members of Congress continue to push for new legislation to stem gun violence.

They have been spurred by the massacre at Connecticut's Newtown Elementary School during which a lone gunman killed 26 people, mostly first graders.

One proposal under serious discussion at the federal level is to expand background checks to require them for all gun sales. This would close a loophole for private transactions, including sales involving hunters.

Many states have their own laws requiring checks for private sales.

The National Rifle Association is opposed to universal background checks. The politically potent group says the current system is flawed and does not contain sufficient data on problems like mental illness.

Complete coverage: The gun debate

      Gun control debate

    • Gun rights and gun control advocates largely agree there should be restrictions on mentally ill people obtaining firearms. The case of Myron Fletcher illustrates how difficult it is to put that into practice.
    • Six months after a gunman burst into a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school and slaughtered 20 children and killed six others, promises of stricter national gun control laws remain largely unfulfilled.
    • An undated photo of murder suspect Elliot Rodger is seen at a press conference by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff in Goleta, California May 24, 2014. Rodger, 22, went on a rampage in Isla Vista near the University of California at Santa Barbara campus, stabbed three people to death at his apartment before shooting to death three more in a terrorizing crime spree through the neighborhood. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

      Next time there's a mass shooting, don't jump to blame the National Rifle Association and lax gun laws. Look first at the shooter and the mental health services he did or didn't get, and the commitment laws in the state where the shooting took place.
    • Melvin Speight uses a camera scope run down a barrel to check the rifleing inside. Speight has been with Colt for 7 years.

      The sign at the door of the Colt factory displays a gun with a slash through it: "No loaded or unauthorized firearms beyond this point." Understandable for workers at a plant, but also a bit ironic, considering one of the largest arsenals in America lies just beyond.
    • clip inside man spurlock gun ownership_00004707.jpg

      Morgan Spurlock's "Inside Man" gives CNN viewers an inside and in-depth look at the issue of firearms -- as viewed from behind the counter of a gun store. Here are five things to know about the debate.
    •  	US President Barack Obama is accompanied by former lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords (L), vice president Joe Biden (R) and family members of Newtown school shooting victims as he speaks on gun control at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 17, 2013. Obama on Wednesday slammed what he called a 'minority' in the US Senate for blocking legislation that would have expanded background checks on those seeking to buy guns. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

      The Senate defeated a compromise plan to expand background checks on firearms sales as well as a proposal to ban some semi-automatic weapons modeled after military assault weapons.
    • Jessica Ghawi

      As Congress grapples with major gun control legislation proposals, brothers and sisters, mothers, fathers and children write about the people they loved and lost to gun violence and how it changed their lives.
    • Many Americans and lawmakers are in favor of continuing or expanding background checks on gun purchases, but few understand how the checks work.
    • Still stinging from the shooting deaths at Sandy Hook, Connecticut lawmakers approved what advocacy groups call the strongest and most comprehensive gun legislation in the nation.
    • It took fewer than five minutes for Adam Lanza to squeeze off 154 rounds, upending life in Newtown, Connecticut, and triggering a renewed national debate over gun control.
    • A former drug addict turned anti-violence crusader, and a man who lost his father in a temple shooting. These are just two of many in the conversation.