Americans bought a record number of guns this Christmas, according to FBI figures cited in new reports.
More than 1.5 million background checks on customers were requested by gun dealers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in December — the highest number ever in a single month, eclipsing the previous record set in November, according to London's Daily Telegraph.
Nearly 500,000 of the checks were reportedly requested in the six days before Christmas.
Only 1.3 percent of customers are denied permission to buy a weapon, FBI spokesman Steve Fischer told CNN.
December 23 was the second-busiest gun-buying day in US history, topped only by firearm purchases on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, according to the Telegraph.
However, the paper cited the FBI as cautioning also that there was not a one-to-one correlation between background checks and the number of guns sold because of "varying state laws and purchase scenarios." And in fact:
Many customers bought multiple weapons. Exact sales are neither reported nor recorded.
The National Rifle Association reportedly said that in the face of police budget cuts and layoffs, Americans were concerned about self-defense.
"I think there's an increased realization that when something bad occurs, it's going to be between them and the criminal," NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told CNN.
However, Caroline Brewer of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence told CNN that repeat buyers may be behind the surge.
“The research we’ve seen indicates fewer and fewer people are owning more and more guns,” Brewer said. “All the trends indicate the number of Americans who own guns has declined.
“It would appear because of fear-mongering by the NRA since Obama’s election that people are adding more guns to their arsenals out of fear Obama and the Democrats will take away their guns, which is absurd.”