Gun Background Checks In The U.S., 1999-2009
Background checks skyrocketed to their highest levels in a decade during the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009.*
Federally licensed gun dealers call in or electronically submit information to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, to determine whether a prospective buyer has a criminal record and any outstanding warrants. The check also searches for additional criteria including whether a judge has declared someone to be mentally incompetent.
Total NICS background checks, by quarter (in millions)