This was a banner year for guns -- 2011 is set to smash the record for gun sales.
The record for a single year was set just last year, when the FBI reported that 14,409,616 background checks were requested. In 2011 that figure will top 16 million. FBI spokesman Steve Fischer said just 1.3% of background checks result in denial of a weapon.
With a week left in December, the FBI said the monthly record has already been broken, and that was only set last month when 1,534,414 background checks were requested from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Two days before Christmas, NICS ran 102,222 background checks, which was the second-busiest day in history. The one-day record was set this year on Black Friday, the big shopping day following Thanksgiving, with 129,166 searches. By comparison, the previous one-day high was set November 28, 2008, when gun dealers made slightly less than 98,000 requests for background searches.
The NRA said more people are flocking to guns for self defense.
"I think there's an increased realization that when something bad occurs, it's going to be between them and the criminal," NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told CNN.
However the Brady Campaign said the number of people owning guns is actually going down.
"The research we've seen indicates fewer and fewer people are owning more and more guns," said spokeswoman Caroline Brewer. "All the trends indicate the number of Americans who own guns has declined."
She added, "It would appear because of fear-mongering by the NRA since (President Barack) Obama's election that people are adding more guns to their arsenals out of fear Obama and the Democrats will take away their guns, which is absurd."