Illustration by Max Fleishman

FBI background checks for gun purchases skyrocket in June

This year is on track to break the background check record.


Lauren Walker


Posted on Jul 5, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 12:23 pm CDT

Federal background checks for gun purchases skyrocketed in June, marking the fourteenth month in a row to set a new record.

In June 2015, for instance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted about 1.5 million background checks. This June, however, the FBI carried out more than 2.1 million—a nearly 40 percent increase.

Though the summer month tends to have the lowest background checks, the recent surge may not come as a surprise. Mass shootings often prompt the loosening of gun restrictions and a spike in gun sales, and the recent increase comes in the wake of the June 12 attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history. A similar spike occurred after Sandy Hook in 2012 and San Bernardino in December 2015.

The FBI closed out 2015 conducting more than 23 million background checks, which is the current record. But in the first half of 2016, the FBI conducted nearly 14 million background checks, meaning 2016 is on track to break the existing record. 

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*First Published: Jul 5, 2016, 12:28 pm CDT