NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Americans Filing Fewer Applications To Buy Guns

July 2, 2001

As instances of violent crime decline year after year, fewer people are trying to acquire firearms, according to the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics. Nearly every state experienced a decrease in requested background checks on potential gun-purchasers.

  • Nationally, the number of background checks dropped 11 percent from 1999 to 2000.
  • The total number of checks by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and by states that do the inquiries themselves fell from 8.6 million to 7.7 million.
  • Also, authorities rejected 153,000 applications in 2000 -- down from 204,000 in 1999.
  • Convicted felons accounted for 58 percent of rejections last year -- while people convicted of domestic violence made up 12 percent and fugitives accounted for 4 percent.

The figures track only the number of people seeking applications and don't measure whether overall gun sales are up or down. In some states, people can purchase more than one firearm with a single application.

Experts say gun sales sag during periods of relative calm in the gun-control debate. They say gun buyers drive up sales when they are concerned that Congress might approve further restrictions on weapons purchases.

Source: Toni Locy, "Report: Fewer People Are Trying to Buy Guns," USA Today, July 2, 2001.

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