Background Checks Blocked a Record Number of Gun Sales in 2020


The number of people stopped from buying guns through the U.S. background check system hit an all-time high of more than 300,000 last year, according to new records obtained by the group Everytown for Gun Safety.

The FBI numbers provided to The Associated Press show the background checks blocked nearly twice as many gun sales in 2020 as in the year before.

About 42 percent of those denials were because the would-be buyers had felony convictions on their records.

The increase in blocked gun sales largely tracks with the record-setting surge in sales that has continued into this year.

A bill that would further tighten background checks is stalled in the Senate. The House in March passed the legislation requiring checks on all sales and transfers, as well as an expanded 10-day review for gun purchases. But the bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

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According to the data, the rate of barred gun buyers also increased somewhat over the previous two years, from about 0.6 percent to 0.8 percent.

Everytown’s research found that 16 percent of blocked gun buyers in 2020 were prohibited by state law, like the “red flag” laws passed in several states. Another 12 percent were related to domestic violence.

“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,” Sarah Burd-Sharps, Everytown’s director of research, 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.”

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Alan Gottlieb, founder of the gun rights group the Second Amendment Foundation, said the increase in denials might be partly because more states have been updating their records of restricted people.

There are sometimes false positives as well, he said. “A day doesn’t go by that our office doesn’t get complaint calls from people who’ve been denied wrongly,” he said.

The data also comes as a growing number of states drop requirements for people to get background checks and training to carry guns in public.

Texas last week became the latest state to drop permitting requirements amid a push that began gathering steam several years ago.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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