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Gun background checks drop by 10 percent in January

Published February 5, 2013 5:15 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

WASHINGTON • The number of federal background checks for firearm sales declined last month following a surge in gun sales toward the end of the year that's left many retailers out of stock as Washington considered new gun control measures.

An Associated Press analysis of new FBI data published early Tuesday shows the National Instant Criminal Background Check system processed more than 2.78 million checks in December. That was a 12-month peak following an upward trend through last fall. The number fell to 2.48 million in January, still greater than any other month last year.

Firearms sales exploded around the country in the wake of the deadly December shooting spree in Newton, Conn., that left 27 dead, mostly children. The rush to buy guns has left many retailers out of stock.

"You can't do a background check if a guy doesn't have a gun to buy," said Mike Fotia, manager at Duke's Sport Shop in New Castle, Pa. "There's nothing to buy."

Fotia said manufacturers and wholesalers can't fill orders right now because demand is so high.

The number of background checks does not represent the number of firearms purchased, but gun manufacturers use these statistics to measure the health of the gun industry in the U.S.

The 10 percent drop between December and January comes amid a fierce national debate on gun control after the horrific school shooting in Newtown. The number of background checks dropped 26 percent during the same time period a year earlier. Sales typically decrease in January after the holiday shopping rush is over.

Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi saw the largest declines in background checks from December to January, by about one-third. —

NRA changes stance on background checks

The country's most powerful gun rights lobbying group has reversed its decade-old stance on requiring instant background checks for people buying guns at gun shows.

"We think it's reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show," Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said in 1999 after the Columbine High School shooting in suburban Denver. "No loopholes anywhere for anyone."

But now, LaPierre says gun laws requiring background checks are ineffective at keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.

"I do not believe the way the law is working now, unfortunately, that it does any good to extend the law to private sales between hobbyists and collectors," LaPierre told the Senate Judiciary Committee last month.

LaPierre said the government needs to prosecute more people who try to illegally buy guns from licensed dealers. Without better enforcement of existing laws, he said, more background checks would only be a burden on law-abiding gun buyers.

LaPierre has also suggested that an expansion of background checks would lead to a national registry of gun owners.

— The Associated Press Gun background checks drop 10 percent last month

These figures published online Tuesday by the FBI show the number of federal background checks for firearms sales in each state sorted alphabetically between October and January, with the total percentage change in the number of checks conducted between December and January. The nationwide totals for each month also include figures for background checks in Guam, the Marianas Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, which are not individually shown in this list.

The raw FBI figures can be downloaded here: http://1.usa.gov/12qmop9

STATE • OCT-'12 NOV-'12 DEC-'12 JAN-'13 Prcnt Chg

Alabama • 32,850 52,221 80,576 55,210 -31.5%

Alaska • 8,503 8,131 12,438 9,975 -19.8%

Arizona • 24,336 34,003 48,795 41,443 -15.1%

Arkansas • 22,743 29,298 38,830 29,607 -23.8%

California • 89,164 113,832 150,805 133,187 -11.7%

Colorado • 35,009 46,192 53,453 53,121 -0.6%

Connecticut • 18,761 22,547 29,246 31,886 9.0%

District of Columbia • 53 41 51 59 15.7%

Delaware • 2,512 3,681 5,626 5,055 -10.1%

Florida • 64,782 88,114 134,345 117,696 -12.4%

Georgia • 37,586 47,507 78,998 70,862 -10.3%

Hawaii • 1,569 1,622 2,014 2,260 12.2%

Idaho • 11,157 13,395 20,555 17,708 -13.9%

Illinois • 78,049 91,889 112,141 149,608 33.4%

Indiana • 38,305 48,477 71,348 61,855 -13.3%

Iowa • 12,012 16,155 19,407 24,157 24.5%

Kansas • 16,551 24,748 35,545 29,270 -17.7%

Kentucky • 220,986 219,921 260,207 238,510 -8.3%

Louisiana • 29,102 38,584 59,697 42,313 -29.1%

Maine • 9,748 9,094 12,416 10,538 -15.1%

Maryland • 11,640 17,048 19,172 18,392 -4.1%

Massachusetts • 19,062 21,166 25,251 27,785 10.0%

Michigan • 37,464 45,249 59,445 60,852 2.4%

Minnesota • 43,310 40,168 55,917 64,272 14.9%

Mississippi • 18,935 30,272 42,176 26,380 -37.5%

Missouri • 44,157 55,571 81,243 71,515 -12.0%

Montana • 13,036 11,728 18,562 15,217 -18.0%

Nebraska • 7,814 10,418 15,406 14,751 -4.3%

Nevada • 11,057 14,611 22,420 18,361 -18.1%

New Hampshire • 10,591 12,223 19,647 20,513 4.4%

New Jersey • 6,791 8,910 10,047 11,110 10.6%

New Mexico • 11,675 14,271 21,537 16,998 -21.1%

New York • 30,294 38,150 48,320 43,752 -9.5%

North Carolina • 40,956 53,692 74,023 70,301 -5.0%

North Dakota • 9,138 7,637 10,989 9,686 -11.9%

Ohio • 49,510 74,534 102,531 83,996 -18.1%

Oklahoma • 28,960 43,759 60,731 48,246 -20.6%

Oregon • 19,989 27,133 44,246 33,335 -24.7%

Pennsylvania • 79,821 99,829 133,241 135,603 1.8%

Rhode Island • 1,897 2,478 3,870 3,792 -2.0%

South Carolina • 23,632 30,131 43,132 36,801 -14.7%

South Dakota • 9,893 10,114 14,789 11,242 -24.0%

Tennessee • 40,032 59,840 91,922 69,456 -24.4%

Texas • 112,530 149,821 239,956 186,890 -22.1%

Utah • 20,048 23,859 32,908 27,938 -15.1%

Vermont • 3,152 3,191 4,845 4,195 -13.4%

Virginia • 35,342 52,416 77,487 60,837 -21.5%

Washington • 43,051 50,452 74,447 73,547 -1.2%

West Virginia • 19,662 26,830 34,030 26,793 -21.3%

Wisconsin • 41,069 44,890 55,533 56,977 2.6%

Wyoming • 5,011 6,482 9,876 7,861 -20.4%

Total U.S. • 1,604,743 1,997,703 2,776,105 2,483,230 -10.5%