Elections and national tragedies often prompt a national increase in background checks tied to applications for a permit to carry a firearm and to purchases of long guns, handguns and other types of firearms. Spikes in background checks for carry permits are not always as pronounced, however. The data comes from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Permit checks qualify as alternatives to background checks for gun purchases in some states but permits must be renewed after five years.
Trend CT has previously looked at total background checks at the national and state level, but we wanted to drill a bit deeper into the data to analyze the different purposes for background checks.
Background checks across the country for purchases oflong guns, such as rifles and shotguns, spiked after the initial election of President Obama and saw a steady rise before his re-election in 2012. However, the largest bump was immediately after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Since then, the number of these background checks has leveled off.
Background checks for handgun purchases have steadily increased since a low of 151,000 in 2003. In November of this year, there were more than 657,000 handgun-related background checks.
Meanwhile, background checks for permits have also climbed, with a spike in March of 2014, which saw a record-high 1 million background checks.
Connecticut matches national trends for the most part up until the Sandy Hook shooting.
State legislators passed sweeping gun-control legislation after that tragedy, and background checks of all kinds grew in anticipation of the law, then declined for a brief period.
Groups tried to challenge the new law in federal court but it was eventually upheld, which led to another increase in background checks for long-gun and handgun purchases. Then there was a huge dip in background checks for handguns and long guns in Connecticut until the gubernatorial race in 2014.
Background checks for handgun purchases in Connecticut continue to climb at rates higher than for other types of firearms. Meanwhile, background checks for permits have been in decline since a high in 2013. In Connecticut, pistol permits expire after five years.
In December, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he wanted Connecticut to ban the sale of guns to those on the federal government’s “no-fly” list and other terrorism watch lists. If the past trend is any indication, background checks may show an increase when new figures are released.
Certified sellers are required to check the backgrounds of all buyers to make sure the customer is not barred from purchasing a gun because of a criminal background or other criteria. Sellers in some states are not required to check with FBI NICS, and in some states, purchases subsequent to the first do not require additional checks. Many checks are for concealed-carry permits and not gun sales.