Ahead of Black Friday, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, are asking the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to make additional staffing preparations to handle the influx of legal gun purchases and background checks conducted through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) expected during the holidays.
In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, the senators write: “The FBI is notoriously understaffed on Black Friday, despite knowing year-after-year of the high-volume of gun sales. This must change. Now is the time to prepare the FBI and ATF for adequate staffing to avoid the inevitable holiday rush.
The letter continues: “Black Friday is less than a month away and reports already indicate the ATF is shorthanded and facing backlogs. The current wait time for approval of a paper Form 4, which is used to complete a tax stamp purchase, is one year, and an e-Form 4 is at least 180 days, some taking more than a year. The average processing time for an e-Form 4 has increased by 80 days since the enactment of the ‘Frame or Receiver’ final rule, which went into effect just over a month ago.”
Traditionally, Black Friday is among the top ten highest days for legal gun sales and background checks through NICS. Last year, NICS recorded 187,585 checks on Black Friday alone. Despite the year-after-year high volume of gun sales, the FBI is notoriously understaffed on this day, which has caused delays and backlogs.