The pistol police said the Oxford high school shooting suspect used was one of nearly 700,000 firearms that Americans bought or tried to buy during Black Friday sales

Semi-automatic handguns are displayed at shop.
Gun sales on Black Friday 2021 soared, ranking among the top ten highest days for gun-related background checks.Keith Srakocic/AP
  • The FBI conducted 687,788 background checks related to firearm purchases during the week leading up to Black Friday.

  • The bureau processed 187,585 background checks on Black Friday alone, topping the 2020 gun sales record.

  • Police in Oxford, Michigan said the firearm used in Tuesday's deadly high school shooting was a pistol purchased on Black Friday.

As more news emerges about the Oxford High School shooting in Michigan, police have said that the suspect used a pistol purchased on Black Friday by his father. The firearm is one of the hundreds of thousands that were either purchased or Americans attempted to buy on the sales holiday.

According to data by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Black Friday was one of the most productive days in gun sales to date. This year, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) processed a total of 687,788 background checks in the days leading up to and including Black Friday, November 26, according to FBI data. On Black Friday alone, 187,585 background checks were made, a slight increase from 186,645 in 2020.

The FBI uses the NICS to process background checks when people attempt to purchase a firearm or explosive. The agency is required by law to conduct background checks on prospective firearm buyers, and the data has historically been used to measure gun sales, although the FBI says it is not an exact correlation.

As a result, Black Friday 2021 now ranks among the top 10 highest days for NICS background checks dating back to 1998.

A renewed debate over gun safety and policies

researcher in front of a computer
A researcher simulates a check done for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for Black Friday in 2014.AP Photo/Matt Stroud

While school shootings in Michigan are rare, the Oxford high school shooting that left four students dead and several people injured has renewed debate over gun laws and safety in the state.

The Giffords Law Center, which collects information about gun laws nationwide, ranked Michigan 20th in the nation for states with the strictest gun laws, the Washington Post reported. A lawyer for the center told the Post that Michigan's gun laws "could be a lot stronger."

Democrats in Michigan have advocated for stronger legislation on gun control, but many of those bills have stalled in the Republican-led legislature.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, on Tuesday called gun violence a "public health crisis," adding that "no one should be afraid to go to school."

Meshawn Maddock, the Michigan Republican Party co-chair, tweeted Tuesday that many people "would give anything for a gun carrying teacher in Oxford today," adding, "I personally LIKE being around people with guns."

Tuesday's high shooting marks the sixth mass shooting this year, according to the Mother Jones mass shooting database. There were only two mass shootings in 2020 amid a record number of gun violence deaths, as per the database.

Gun control advocates nationwide have called for stricter background checks, among other initiatives, to reduce rates of gun violence. A 2018 study found that states with stricter background checks for weapon and ammunition purchases had fewer school shootings.

However, support for stricter gun control has fallen, according to a recent Gallup poll. Only 52% of respondents said they wanted stricter gun laws, the lowest recording since 2014.

It is not clear yet where the handgun — a 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 pistol — used by the 15-year-old shooting suspect had been purchased. The firearm was bought by the suspect's father just four days before the shooting, police said. Prosecutors said on Wednesday that they may charge the suspect's parents.

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