Gun background checks at record high - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Gun background checks at record high

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The FBI is being bombarded by the largest number of background checks for gun purchases in its history.

Last year, the agency processed more than 23-million background checks. Even more revealing, the majority of these checks were not done for your typical gun buyer.

We’re talking a 15 percent jump from last year and 3 million more background checks than the previous record nationwide. 

Georgia saw a record high in 2015, with well over a half a million background checks conducted. In South Carolina, a similar story, with the number of checks more than doubling since 2005.

"December was probably three-times the volume of firearms than we've had in the past,” said Earl Shadley, Ortiz Custom Guns.

At Ortiz Custom Guns in Savannah, they've seen record sales in the past several months. To the point where they've had to hire additional staff.

"Around Thanksgiving on through Christmas, sales just skyrocketed. And what we're seeing is an influx of people that have never owned a firearm,” said Shadley.

Many of these first-timers are women and seniors, and they're reason for coming in is almost always the same: self-defense.

"The violence has grown immensely. Home invasion has grown,” said Carlos Hernandez, gun buyer.

And he would know, his house has been burglarized twice. When Hernandez moved to Savannah in 1984, he owned one gun. Today, he owns several.

"If you don't have a weapon nowadays to defend yourself, you are a walking target, is the way I feel. And I lot of my friends and neighbors feel the same way,” said Hernandez.

It's important to note that background checks don't necessarily translate into gun sales, since some would-be buyers are denied and others buy multiple guns. But at the same time, the number of checks also doesn't account for purchases made by concealed carry permit holders who have already had a background check for that license.

"It's good for five years. So we don't do a NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) background check for those individuals. So the volume that they're seeing for NICS background checks is above and beyond those individuals who can legally purchase with a permit,” said Hernandez.

By the way, those concealed carry permits are only becoming more prevalent in Georgia, South Carolina and nationwide. Since 2012, the number of people applying for those permits in the U.S. has gone up by a million each year. Meaning every day, you're likely rubbing shoulders with many of these new gun owners who are fully armed without even knowing it.

Copyright 2016 WTOC. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly