January's FBI gun background checks are second-highest ever

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Story highlights

  • Figures show there were 2,495,400 background checks through FBI system
  • The data does not indicate exactly how many weapons might have been purchased
  • December was the top record-setting month, with 2,783,765 background checks

As President Obama continues to push for new gun control measures, new FBI data shows that January was the second-highest month on record for gun background checks.

FBI figures posted Tuesday show there were 2,495,400 background checks done through the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System, known as NICS. The number was more than 1 million higher than any previous January.

Also in January, 8,980 of the background checks resulted in gun purchase denials.

U.S. law requires background checks for all people who try to buy firearms from federally licensed dealers.

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The data does not indicate exactly how many weapons might have been purchased, as some customers buy more than one gun at a time.

December was the top record-setting month, with 2,783,765 background checks.

The FBI makes the data available on its website without comment. The figures typically show high numbers of background checks during the holiday shopping months of November and December, and the background check numbers usually decline in January. There also is often a spike in checks after a dramatic incident of gun violence.

The NICS system was launched in November 1998 after being mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993.

Federal law does not require background checks for "private transactions," such as sales between hunters. Many states have their own statutes requiring such checks for private sales.

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