Thanksgiving week cracks FBI's top 10 busiest for background checks

The week of Thanksgiving — Nov. 20 through Nov. 26 — cracked the FBI’s top 10 busiest for federal background checks since the agency began keeping track nearly two decades ago.

Ranking at number eight with 676,464 applications processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, it’s the first week of 2017 to make the list. By comparison, the FBI’s busiest week to date — Dec. 17 through Dec. 23, 2012 — clocked 953,613 checks in just seven days.

Four of the busiest weeks fell within 2015 and two more each occurred in 2014 and 2016.

Some 30 percent of the checks processed during Thanksgiving week occurred on Black Friday — the busiest single day in NICS history, with more than 203,000 checks initiated within 24 hours.

Smith & Wesson executives said the robust turnout on the annual shopping holiday infused encouragement into a sluggish gun market — potentially upending eight years of fear-based buying in favor of promotions.

“This result reinforces arguably that firearms have moved even more strongly into the basket of Black Friday shopping goods that consumers have come to expect,”  said James Debney, CEO of the gun maker’s holding company, American Outdoor Brands, during a Dec. 7 conference call with investors. “Accordingly, we believe promotions have, for the moment, replaced fair based buying as a primary driver for consumer purchases and the promotional environment for consumer firearms looks as though it will continue for the foreseeable future.”

Six of the FBI’s top 10 days fall on Black Fridays, including the most recent record of 185,713 checks set just last year. It’s the third year in a row Black Friday checks earned the top spot on the agency’s list of highest days.

“You can look at Black Friday NICS and say yes, that’s really encouraging, that’s a bright spot,” Debney said. “So the positive take from that is yes, there is still a consumer there that has an appetite to buy a firearm, but they’re willing to wait until they can get the best possible deal.”

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