By Brad Tuttle
December 4, 2015
Handguns are seen at Metro Shooting Supplies on November 16, 2014 in Bridgeton, Missouri.
Samuel Corum—Getty Images

Even before the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., this week, gun sales in America have been on a blistering pace. On Black Friday, which has evolved into a big day for shopping for guns alongside clothing sales and doorbuster deals on TVs, the FBI processed 185,345 background checks for gun purchases, an all-time high.

For that matter, FBI data reveal that the entire month saw the number of firearm background checks soar, from roughly 1.8 million in November 2014 to 2.2 million in November of this year. And as CNN noted, 2015 as a whole is on track to reach the most ever background checks in American history. For the first 11 months of the year, there were nearly 20 million requests, up 6% compared with the same period a year ago, and up 4% compared with 2013, which (for now at least) had the most ever firearm background checks processed.

Most point to the Newtown, Conn., massacre in December 2012 as the prime reason that gun sales soared in 2013. Likewise, the disturbing regularity of mass shootings throughout 2015 has apparently pushed increased interest in gun purchases this year.

At least anecdotally, gun sellers say that they’ve noticed more buyers seeking handguns and concealed handgun licenses in particular lately—an indication that they want a gun within arm’s reach at all times, in case they’re in the middle of a mass shooting or other crime. In San Antonio this week, one gun club employee said that the classes required to get concealed handgun licenses are packed. “Normally we see them at least three quarters full,” he said. “Lately we have been seeing them booked up all the way.”

Concerns about incidents like those that took place in San Bernardino, Paris, and the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs have even grown to the point that insurers have begun offering “active shooter” insurance policies, which cover the liability of college campuses or businesses if a mass shooting takes place and it’s determined they didn’t take the proper precautions to prevent it.

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