The FBI conducted more than 23 million background checks on people looking to buy firearms according to new figures released by federal authorities.
A total of 23,141,970 background checks were requested during 2015, an increase of more than two million on 2014.
The busiest day for firearms checks was Black Friday, November 27, when 185,345 people sought clearance.
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Federal authorities conducted more than 23 million background checks on people seeking to buy guns in 2015
Gun rights’ activists claim President Obama’s plan far exceeds his authority and should be overturned
President Barack Obama, centre, met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, left, yesterday in the White House to discuss plans to close loopholes allowing people to avoid background checks when buying a gun
According to the figures released by the FBI, since 1998, 225,678,492 background checks have been made across the county with a population, according to the US Census Bureau, of more than 322 million people.
Names of prospective gun buyers are normally run through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to determine whether someone is eligible to buy a firearm.
Since 1998, NICS has denied 1,273,232 potential purchasers, including almost 700,000 convicted felons, 150,000 fugitives from justice and 68 people who have renounced their US citizenship.
However, President Barack Obama does not believe that the current firearms regulations are strict enough to prevent school shootings and attacks such as on Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut in 2012 which claimed the lives of 20 children and six teachers.
President Obama had hoped to secure bi-partisan support to introduce more restrictions on buying guns following the massacre but this was not possible.
Instead, he is expected to announce a range of measures to close some loopholes where some private gun dealers at firearms shows can sell weapons without completing a background check.
President Obama wants to force people selling guns at shows to perform background checks on customers
Republicans have vowed to reverse President Obama’s plan if they win the White House in November
Obama’s actions ensure that gun rights – one of the most bitterly divisive issues in America – will be at the forefront of the 2016 presidential campaign, which begins in earnest next month with the first primary contests.
Accusing Obama of gross overreach, many of the Republican presidential candidates have vowed to rip up the new gun restrictions upon taking office. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton said she was proud of Obama’s efforts and promised she would safeguard them.
More recent gun-related atrocities, including in San Bernardino, California, have spurred the administration to give the issue another look, as Obama seeks to make good on a policy issue that he’s elevated time and again but has failed until now to advance.
At the centerpiece of Obama’s plan, to be unveiled at a White House event with gun violence victims, is a broader definition of gun dealers that the administration hopes will expand the number of gun sales subject to background checks.
At gun shows, websites and flea markets, sellers often skirt that requirement by declining to register as licensed dealers, but officials said new federal guidance would clarify that it applies to anyone ‘in the business’ of selling firearms.
They put sellers on notice that the government planned to increase enforcement – including with 230 new examiners the FBI will hire to process background checks.
President Obama said: ‘This is not going to solve every violent crime in this country.
Public opinion polls show Americans overwhelmingly support expanding background checks for gun purchases, but are more divided on the broader question of stricter gun laws.
About a third of Americans live in a household where at least one person owns a gun. Particularly in rural areas where firearms are a way of life, many citizens do not believe gun laws should be made stricter. The reverse is true in urban areas, where majorities want tighter firearm regulations.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other top officials declined to explain why Obama hadn’t taken these steps years ago and whether the administration had contemplated these actions in the past but determined President Obama didn’t have the authority.
Under current law, only federally licensed gun dealers must conduct background checks on buyers, but many who sell guns at flea markets, on websites or in other informal settings don’t register as dealers.
Gun control advocates say that loophole is exploited to skirt the background check requirement.
Now, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will issue updated guidance that says the government should deem anyone ‘in the business’ of selling guns to be a dealer, regardless of where he or she sells the guns. To that end, the government will consider other factors, including how many guns a person sells, how frequently, and whether those guns are sold for a profit.