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(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
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In recent years, the FBI — which manages the system that vets gun buyers — processed an average of 8.6 million gun background checks annually, according to historical data analyzed by FiveThirtyEight. But last year, the bureau processed 12,761,328 background checks, according to FBI data obtained by FiveThirtyEight through a public records request.

Perhaps most alarming, the FBI never finished over 316,000 background checks in the first nine months of 2020 alone — far more than in any other year on record. And that number doesn’t include October, November and December — usually the busiest months for gun sales, when 3.4 million background checks were opened last year.

In other words, it’s impossible to know how many guns were sold to people in 2020 who couldn’t legally own them because those background checks were never completed.

Asked why it didn’t finish so many background checks in 2020, the FBI said in a statement that it “depends on the availability of relevant information and records provided by federal, state, local, and tribal agencies.” The bureau also said that it has “reallocated resources to help ensure that it can continue processing background checks efficiently.”

Gun sales have surged since April 2020, thanks, at least in part, to the pandemic, protests last summer for racial justice and the election of President Biden in November. The FBI data shows how the background check system has struggled to keep up. And, at this point, it’s unclear when the problem is going to get better.

— Joshua Eaton in More People Are Buying Guns. Fewer People Are Getting Background Checks.

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  1. So what they’re saying is the NICS background check is the useless waste of time and money for all people concerned. Got it!

    • No.

      What THEY are saying is that NICS is the most fabulous creation since disposable diapers, an absolute and infallible barrier that prevents people who shouldn’t have guns from GETTING guns, and that if only more of them are required, whether dealer-purchased, private transactions, or trades, or loans, or borrowing, then overnight senseless gun violence in the inner cities will come to an abrupt halt, inner-city Yutes of Color will cast aside their white-supremacy-caused violence, attend church, go back to school, tithe to the poor, help old ladies across streets, and become moral, upright citizens.

      That’s what THEY are saying. And it’ll only take a few billion dollars, and several thousand more agents, and a new BATF director named Chipman to accomplish this miracle.


      • Disposable diapers are a disaster for the environment. A waste of money and resources. A blight upon society,

        So yes, comparing disposable diapers and the ATF is valid.

        • Actually Cotten diapers are worse for the environment. Plants that make them pollute more , and washing them uses a lot of energy and water ,over and over . The only issue with disposable is the end up in a landfill ,so basically a non issue .

      • “…and that if only more of them [BGCs] are required, whether dealer-purchased, private transactions, or trades, or loans, or borrowing, then overnight senseless gun violence in the inner cities will come to an abrupt halt…”

        Now, yer gittin’ it. Every BGC denied translate directly into a death not caused by gunfire*; settled science.

        *There would be even fewer gun related deaths if people submitting to BGCs are wearing two anti-covid masks at the time.

        • Ah, but wait, there’s MORE!

          Every UBGC performed is another chance to stop a bad person from getting a gun, yes; However, it is also an opportunity to prevent someone who is NOT ‘bad’ from getting one, perhaps permanently. As well, every gun ‘bought back’, every assault weapon (?) seized and destroyed, or taxed, or ‘insured,’ or limited, every ‘high-capacity’ magazine outlawed, every FFL shut down permanently due to a minor paperwork error is a mass shooting of minorities, babies, and puppies prevented. Every ‘may-issue’ CCW permit, every FOID card denied, every delay in issuing either, is a positive good to prevent having to dig new storm drains in the inner cities to bypass the ones that would soon be clogged with clotted blood.
          Think of the children.

          План есть, и он работает.

    • What the article is trying to imply is that NICS is 100% foolproof if only the FBI was given enough time to complete the background checks. This article will then be referenced in another article on the importance of closing the “Charleston Loophole”.

      • For those who do not have the imagination or the realization that once the BGC becomes mandatory for all purchases without limit, the following morning the office which performs the BGC will be closed forever, you need to think for a moment, and ask yourself precisely how BGC could ever possibly prevent a crime, and the only possible answer involves the incarceration of tens of thousands of people who have committed no crime. NICS results in nearly zero prosecutions and far fewer convictions. The only purpose of NICS is to provide a basis for demanding UBC, since without UBC (or with it) NICS accomplishes nothing, whereas UBC will accomplish a NATIONAL REGISTRY, which has been the ONLY goal of the grabbers for close to 50 years now.

    • You can’t fully assimilate the most successful culture in history (American Culture) if you don’t own a gun.
      Owning a gun changes a person, and creates new Americans.

  2. Great news, why is our federal government interfering with our RIGHT to own any weapons we choose and any ammo we choose to protect ourselves from the bad guys and the bad government? What part of “shall NOT be infringed” don’t they understand? None of the government’s business! If a bad guy is in prison he/she cannot get a gun. Otherwise stay out of our personal affairs.

  3. In other words, it’s impossible to know how many guns were sold to people in 2020 who couldn’t legally own them because those background checks were never completed.

    It’s not impossible to know. The records are there. It’s that the government can’t be arsed to know. Wouldn’t want to divert manpower from searching for kulaks and saboteurs, would we?

    • If we wanted to complete the background checks, the unit responsible would be funded to accomplish them. By this time (35 years later?) we would be arguing to cut the time limit to 15 minutes rather than 3 days. The entire idea is to OBSTRUCT!

      • In CA, our waiting period is 10 days, and you’re not even informed whether you passed NICS or not untul the 10 days have expired.

        • And this is true even if you are one of the approximately 20% who are passed within the first hour. You see, you just MIGHT commit a crime between the submission of the 4473 and ten days later when you are allowed to pick up your purchase.

  4. ‘protests last summer for racial justice’ – Otherwise known as, to normal Americans- riots by communist insurgents.

  5. “…and the FRAUDULENT INSTALLATION of Joe Biden in November.”

    There, fixed it. That man was NOT “elected” and he sure as hell doesn’t deserve the title of “President”.

      • Lets be 100% honest. Biden never left his basement.
        He had “zoom” rallies at drive ins that drew maybe 100-200 people.
        Trump had live rallies where they had to turn people away.
        The evidence of fraud was recorded but yet no court would even look at it.
        MSM always says Trump’s “false claims” that it was rigged.
        The biggest scam in the USA took place last November.
        To deflect from that a false “insurrection” took place on 1/6/2021
        There are 1000 of hours of video that show it wasn’t an “insurrection”.
        Joseph Goebbels was an amateur compared to whoever pulled this off.
        AOC is bent because even she didn’t know, she expected Trump to win.
        She figured she was a shoe in in 2024. She isn’t anymore.
        The election was comparable to a 3 legged horse winning the Derby.
        That outcome is impossible and so was the POTUS election result.
        What a complete farce, Trump easily won.

        • Gotta agree about the election, something just ain’t right. But suppose we go with the People voted for Creepy Joe, maybe some who are here on TTAG even.

          Is the current state of affairs what they expected and wanted? Have they been paying attention to food and gas prices? The massive inflation that’s going to hit in next couple of months?
          Not to mention the so-called President referring to F15s and Nukes.
          I was in Public’s yesterday. Bacon is $9.50 for the cheap stuff…I live in the South..don’t have to import pigs or chickens. wth?

        • The economic problems are an inevitable effect of the COVID-inspired demolition of the economy — and they’d be the same at this point no matter who occupied the Oval Office.

        • The Democrats have a lot of experience with “winning” elections. They have moved on from klansmen and good ol’ boys with shotguns deterring undesirable voters.

          Now they control the voting machines and who counts the votes.

      • The first thing that surprised me was how many Biden signs I saw displayed in yards in predominately conservative neighborhoods where I live in the run up to the election. As election day neared, I was dumbfounded when I started seeing signs right around the corner saying “I’m a Republican but I’m not stupid- I’m voting for Biden”. I actually laughed aloud at the first one I saw one- I said to to my wife “they’ve put a sign out in the yard admitting that they are stupid”.

        I was then surprised to continue hearing people I know who are rational, conservative voters saying they’re going to hold their nose and vote for Biden this time. When appropriate, I would suggest to them that in so doing they wouldn’t be happy with the result. Yet, the “buzz on the street” continued to reverberate “get Trump out”.

        Therefore, I was not surprised at all when I watched Trump lose- I had witnessing the writing on the wall for months. While the election result was disquieting news, indeed- it was in no way surprising.

        What I do continue to find surprising is the number of people desperately clinging to the curious notion that it was somehow impossible for Trump to lose the election. Just from what I witnessed living in a conservative neighborhood, in a conservative city, in a conservative state- I would have been surprised if Trump had won.

        I have waited months for anyone to produce any concrete, objective, verifiable proof that the election was “stolen”… and no one has produced anything. Ironically, it appears that those who “know” the election was stolen (without any proof) are also quick to categorically state how the riot at the Capitol on Jan 6 was “peaceful”, “orderly”, and “non-violent” (with actual proof to the contrary). It’s quite disconcerting, actually.

        I am more than willing to be proven wrong- if only someone would (or could).

        • There are thousands of hours of video that for some reason the powers that be wont release of the “insurrection”. The proof you seek is on thousands of hours of videos that are kept from the public.

          I have seen about a half hour of video that shows the protesters talking with the Capitol Police and yelling at other protesters to not trash the place.

          I saw nothing but MAGA signs on the lawns in a pretty conservative area where I live. The polls had him up by a significant margin and on election night it really looked like blow out by Trump.

          Over the next two days millions of “mystery” absentee and mail in votes appeared out of thin air. There is a great video of a woman who was a Democrat who pulled boxes of ballots from underneath a table when NOBODY else was there. She shouldn’t have been there, ballot counting had stopped two hours beforehand. Surprise! They all were for Biden.
          A court refused to hear the case, it was on video and against election rules.
          Judges are easily bought if the price is right.

          According To CNN (Who would have thought?) as of 5/28/21 56% of Republicans think that the POTUS election was stolen and 74% of Republicans think that too much was and is being made of what happened at the Capitol.

          I cant prove you wrong because due process was not followed or simply ignored. The powers that be have had 7 months to cover their tracks but mention even showing ID to vote and it’s considered racist. The ID costs nothing in most states that most of the alleged fraud took place.

          In 2000 86% of people voted in person on election DAY, in 2016 that dropped to 60% and in 2020? 28%. The excuse was Covid-19 but many people feel that is crock. Why? 59% of Democrats voted by mail compared to 20% of Republicans. If 80% of Republicans showed up to vote to avoid a stolen election then why did 59% of Democrats vote by mail? IMO a lot of Democrats showed up in person to make sure that their vote wasn’t cast aside. A simple answer would be that a lot of Biden votes by mail were simply fake. It’s election DAY, not election month and a half.

          I am a Republican. I am not part of QAnon. I am not into conspiracy theories. I watch some Fox News because I find it amusing.
          Tucker Carlson is pretty funny.
          I also know that when dog shit is on my shoe I can tell by the smell.
          I don’t have to taste it.
          Something about this election smells like dog shit and always will.

        • I was very curious about the rumors, witnesses, and videos that appeared to verify voting fraud- until they were each individually debunked by Republicans, non-partisan investigators, law enforcement (at all levels), even by local politicians that I know personally who are Republicans.

          I could still choose to believe the claims are legitimate, but that would require me to accept a conspiracy that involves absolutely everyone- local, state, and federal government officials, local, state, and federal law enforcement, both political parties, state and federal election representatives and employees- from both parties, and on, and on…

          I won’t say it’s absolutely impossible, just more likely… unpossible.

          But to each their own.

        • As for more videos of the Jan 6 riot- I’m all for everything being brought to light.

          However, I don’t see how any “new” video could in any way nullify the existing proof which shows criminals rioting in, on, and around the Capitol on Jan 6.

          But who knows, right?

        • We could go back and forth about the election for days, you have your opinion and I have mine. That’s why this is a rational discussion.

          I would like to see all of the video of the Capitol on 1/6 and not just the cherry picked parts. If that video proves me wrong then I’m all for it. Officer Sicknick who was supposedly hit in the head with a fire extinguisher but his death certificate says he died of natural causes the following day. He had a stroke that wasn’t caused by pepper spray.

          Ashli Babbitt was shot to death by a still unnamed Capitol LEO. Two other people died of natural cause and one of a drug overdose. All of them were involved in the “insurrection”.

          If there is nothing to hide then why wont they release the thousands of hours of video? I think it could shed a lot of light on what actually happened.

        • “The first thing that surprised me was how many Biden signs I saw displayed in yards in predominately conservative neighborhoods where I live in the run up to the election.”

          ‘Peter Gunn’ here is a Leftist Scum plant, running the game of “I just can’t in good conscience vote for Trump…” All the while sounding ‘reasonable’.

          He’s a psy-op being run on us in realtime…

        • Geoff, your statement is demonstrably false- however, I will fight to defend your right to have your opinion and to voice it.

          Have a safe and happy 4th of July.

    • The correct title is “Faux President Biden”, wish we could get it recognized. He won the election, that is true, but no one actually voted for him, that is also true. In the past 50 years we have heard of MANY tyrants elected or reelected with 100.00% of the vote, not a single opposing ballot. Crooked as a snake, but they got away with it, he *IS* the Faux President. The actions and statements from his offices make it really clear that they *KNOW* they lost the actual election, boy did we get away with some shit!? We need to simply resist from here, just as they did, House or Senate, with one extra vote shut it all down, just as they did to Trump. Nothing passes, absolutely nothing.

      • Statistics show more are celebrating Independence Day this year then last year. My only conclusion is theBiden is bringing pride back to America.

        • “My only conclusion is theBiden is bringing pride back to America.”

          Oooo, I’m telling. I saw what you did there.

  6. I didn’t see any ‘protests last summer for racial justice.’ The people I saw weren’t protesting, they were rioting, because they want everything to be easy for them because they think equality under the law is unfair (read THEY WANT TO SIT ON A SOFA MUNCHING ON CHEETOS AND WATCHING TV AND GET LOTS OF FREE STUFF AND THEY WANT YOU TO PAY FOR IT). Those people are literally trash.

  7. 538 is owned by ABC. Which explains the error in the title. More guns are being purchased. MORE background checks ARE being conducted. But the number of background checks that don’t get completed has increased in number but probably not in percentage.

  8. People have been mentioning the deficiencies in NICS from its conception. If they are not going to fix it and make it work right then it should be scrapped. I would not shed one tear if it were scrapped anyway.

  9. So hundreds of thousand’s of checks weren’t completed? Why have I had something like 25 instant approvals in the last ten years? From rinky dink pawn shops to major retailers…NICS is pathetic.

    • My guess is that you have a distinctive name or provide a social security number. You also have a squeaky clean record. I have a distinctive name, including spelling, and, although I have never provided a social security number, I have only been delayed once for about twenty minutes over the last twenty years with a proportionate number of NICS checks. This delay was during one of those intense periods where lots of checks were being performed.

      • I have a rare but not unique name. I have never included a SS #. I do NOT have a squeaky clean record. Far from it. My conclusion is the same. NICS is pathetic.

        • The whole thing is ridiculous but if you are in Illinois (former water walker) then you go through a IL FTIP check first. It uses 100+ year old technology that makes your name into an algorithm. After you pass that it searches the LEADS 2000 to make sure you aren’t prohibited in IL. THEN you get a NICS check. With Soundex your name doesn’t have even be close to someones else and it can show a delay if your algorithm matches someone else’s that is “prohibited”. Your name is changed into a number. If your name comes back as W123 and someone else has W123 but is a convicted felon or has warrants, you will always get a delay.

          I used to sail through for years with instant approvals. Then I got the occasional delay. Soundex nailed me. My FFL said that he has cops that ALWAYS get delays so what good is any of it? What good is your unique FOID number if you are going to get a delay? Think about it, you should sail through the FTIP check because no two people have the same FOID number. Only if NICS is down or overwhelmed then you would be delayed by the feds. Those can be long delays on occasion. I haven’t experienced one that lasted more then a day but I know people that have been in delay limbo for more then a week.

          That’s our tax dollars hard at work, get rid of all of it.

        • “Once again I am in moderation hell.”

          Not sure if there is connection, causation or correlation, but… do you check all three boxes, every time, before you submit?

  10. Seems to me that this observation brings-to-a-head the issue of our national expectations for “background checks”.

    If we suppose that they are REALLY important then it seems to be worthwhile to ensure that they minimize both FALSE- Positives and Negatives. We don’t want citizens to be deprived of civil rights under color of law without due-process. Nor, do we want dis-abled persons to have ready access to arms.

    It seems that a dis-abled person (i.e., someone who is a Prohibited-Person) could simply seek-out a gun-shop that will deliver a gun after 3 working days if a NICS check comes back “WAIT”. This would apply under UBC proposals.

    Worse still, such an individual could take the precaution of obtaining high quality counterfeit identification. If he carefully choses his Nome de Arms he could be confident of a PROCEED response from NICS.

    As voters, what are our realistic expectations for gun background checks? Today, we have NO CLUE! How can we proceed to maintain, improve or abandon public policies without some such realistic expectations?

    If we can’t figure out how to realize these expectations in the context of a retail sale, how will we hope to achieve them for all the scenarios of UBC? We have had more than 20 years of real live high-volume experience with FFL sales. And we find ourselves utterly shocked with the number of FALSE- Positives, Negatives and failures to complete the checks withOUT follow-up? With a stunningly low prosecution rate!

    The foregoing seems overwhelming evidence that the FBI is manifestly unprepared to extend the NICS checks beyond the FFL sales floor. We should NOT be considering UBC until we have thoroughly evaluated NICS for FFL sales.

    As merely a vehicle for debate, I propose that the FFL/4473/NICS prerequisites include display of a nationally-implemented Voter ID requirement. Once including concrete steps to ensure true identity, including finger-prints.

    If it’s important to keep guns out-of-the-hands of Prohibited-Persons it is ever more important to keep the ineligible out of our voting booths. Reconciling our goals – with respect to gun-control and election integrity – will go a long way toward dealing with major national issues.

    I hasten to admit that some such proposal as this will present an obstacle to some small classes of people; such as my esteemed Amish citizens of Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, such as these will be very narrow exceptions. They will be reasonably accommodated. (E.g., the Amish may be allowed to forego a photograph when they are admittedly personally recognized by gun shop employees or polling officials.)

    • In the end, BGCs are only potentially effective at that moment in time; not a minute after. Unless people instantly denied permission to purchase a firearm are instantly arrested and jailed….they just go to another source; a source not requiring a BGC.

      • You know, that is something that should be revisited.

        The problem with BGCs, of course, is that they are merely a ‘snapshot’ of someone’s life, a infinitesimally short capture of a tiny window, gone in an instant. Sure, at the very moment that one passes that NICS check, one is as pure as the driven snow; But, what happens NEXT? How do we ensure that as soon as one receives the Deadly Weapon into one’s sweaty hands, INSTANTLY the Evil Power of The Gun takes hold, and PRESTO! The once semi-sane and law-abiding purchaser has just become a Mass Murdering, Racist Wife-Beating White Supremacist! And it’s too late. . .

        What do we DO?! Start doing Post-BGC BGCs, of course! And retroactive BGCs for those who already HAVE guns but who might not have ever HAD a BGC in the first place! A ‘Grandfather’ BGC, if you will! Jail those who apply for BGCs, as they intend to commit a crime! Jail those who DON’T apply for a BGC, because they are HIDING their intent to commit a crime!

        Oh, there’s always a loophole out there, just BEGGING to be sealed up!

        THANK you for bringing this to our attention.

        • “THANK you for bringing this to our attention.”

          Happy to be here, grateful for the opportunity, proud to serve.

          (BTW…nicely done)

  11. The FBI is laying the blame on “availability of relevant information”, which makes no sense. That would explain when a “should be prohibited” person gets a green light on a check that ran successfully, but not for a check that could not be run.

    Perhaps it’s time to upgrade the Pentium II running NT 4.0 in the basement. Just tell the boss it’s infrastructure.

  12. The comment that compared ATF to disposable diapers left out only one word….used.

  13. @John in AK

    “Think of the children.”

    Zackly !!

    Every human activity that can result in the death of even one child in a nation, heck, in the world, should be banned, universally, and forever. “So let it be written, so let it be done.”

  14. “In other words, it’s impossible to know how many guns were sold to people in 2020 who couldn’t legally own them because those background checks were never completed.”

    Bullshit. The government has three days to return a cleared person – if they cannot clear someone in three days, the sale can be completed lawfully.

    Too bad the FBI understaffs their responsibility – too much investigating of ‘nooses’ and presidential candidates, I guess.

  15. “2020 had 39,695,315 background checks, not 12,761,328…”

    NICS is not restricted to gun sales via FFLs. There is an attempt to accommodate non-gun sales in establishing the most likely numbers.

    For the brain-dead anti-gun mob, using the higher (likely inaccurate) number might be useful. Makes the percentage of denied sales even smaller. If you want to data-bomb the cluless, use the number of denied permissions against the number of arrests for lying, the number of arrested who go to trial, the number eventually convicted, and the number who actually do jail time.


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