This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Sunday, November 30, 2104:
The national media were full of reports from retailers of Black Friday consumers driving sales to record levels, with some retailers estimating sales jumping 15 to almost 40 percent over last year. Consumers not only took advantage of specials being offered the day after Thanksgiving, but in many cases even shopped on Thanksgiving Day, perhaps foregoing a little turkey and football in the process.
It’s called Black Friday for a very good reason: Most retailers operate at a loss (in the red) up until November, when the jump in sales volume on Black Friday enables them to turn the corner and begin operating profitably (in the black).
The combination of specials and earlier opening hours (some retailers opened 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day!) along with the dramatic increase in online buying have produced some remarkable numbers. Last year more than 140 million consumers spent almost $60 billion in 24 hours, not counting online sales. This year those consumers, enhanced by new shoppers with freshly issued credit cards, will spend between $70 and $100 billion.
The crush of buyers overloaded Best Buy, whose computers crashed on Thanksgiving Day and twice more on Black Friday. Walmart’s Black Friday deals included a Vizio 65-inch LED TV, which usually sells for $998, at just $648. In just one of the seven Walmart stores serving Colorado Springs, more than 600 people were lined up at midnight to take advantage of the specials. There were no parking places available, leaving hungry shoppers the option of parking across the highway or leaving their vehicles running on medians or on the grass with drivers at the ready once a family member had completed the purchase.
Missing from the establishment media reports, however, was any mention of what was going on inside America’s 48,000 gun retailers. According to the FBI, sales on Black Friday were double what they were last year, and triple the normal day. The FBI, in charge of operating the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, were not only requiring its employees to work 17-hour days to handle the load, but had to hire an additional 100 seasonal workers as well.
The FBI is under pressure to process those background checks because, under the Brady Gun Law, if the FBI fails to process a request within three days, the transfer is allowed to proceed.
This task is complicated by the fact that the FBI must simultaneously access three separate databases to turn up miscreants and others whom the government will deny: the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the Interstate Identification Index (III), and its own NCIS Index. On Friday afternoon, background checks were coming in at the rate of three every second. Said FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer:
The challenge is to have staff keep up with this volume. We do that by limiting personal leave, asking employees to work extra shifts and [rehiring] former employees to serve … during this busy season.
Fischer’s task is further complicated by pressure from the present administration to restrict legitimate ownership of firearms by law-abiding citizens. Bumper stickers show up with the president’s photo accompanied with the moniker: “America’s Best Gun Salesman.” It’s complicated further by so many of the states allowing private transfers between its citizens without any record of the transaction being kept on file. And as the technology called 3-D printing goes mainstream and the cost of those printers continues to decline, individuals not interested in keeping the government apprised of their private property are increasingly building their own weapons at home. This avoids long lines at gun stores and the government snoops. This is called freedom.
It’s gotten so bad that Vice President Joe Biden bemoaned the fact that the government simply can’t keep up. According to Jim Baker of the National Rifle Association, Biden told him following a meeting at the White House:
Regarding the lack of prosecutions on lying on the [background check] Form 4473s, we simply don’t have the time or [the] manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, who checks a wrong box, [or] who answers a question inaccurately.
And this of course relates only to those buyers trying to follow the law. Criminals don’t have such compunctions, of course, and fall completely outside the government’s attempts to find out who has the guns and where they are.
With Americans now owning an estimated one weapon per person — more than 300 million firearms — the government is suffering from a growing inability to restrain the freedom of citizens interested in exercising their Second Amendment-protected rights. As another popular bumper sticker says: “The Second Amendment: the one that Insures all the Others.”