This year, in-store Black Friday traffic was down, as consumers turned online to buy their holiday gifts. But even if people weren’t picking up sweaters at Target or televisions at Wal-Mart, they were out in droves picking up firearms.
According to the FBI, last Friday — Black Friday — was the single largest day in history for background checks for gun purchases. More than 200,000 Americans initiated a gun purchase the day after Thanksgiving, setting a new record.
Last year, around 185,000 people shopped for a firearm on Black Friday, up just a little from the year before (the previous record, and the one before that, were both set on Black Friday, in 2015 and 2016).
It’s not immediately clear how many guns were actually sold the day after Thanksgiving, however, since people applying for the background check, if approved, can often buy more than one weapon (depending on state and local regulations). Some applicants may not pass the background checks.
Some media outlets, like USA Today, seemed to believe that consumers turned out to gun stores in droves amid fears that the Department of Justice was recalibrating the background check system to eliminate loopholes and test enforcement.
But it seems it was the deals, not the threats, that drove people to purchase firearms as holiday gifts. According to CBS News, gun retailers slashed prices over the weekend in an effort to clear out excess stock left over from when gun manufacturers increased production during the Obama years — and in anticipation of a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Major gun retailers like Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shop, and even Wal-Mart, offered steep discounts and even rebates for gun purchases made on Black Friday. Dicks Sporting Goods and Gander Mountain are both liquidating their firearms stock, and offered nearly 50% off some models.