A surge of criminal background checks required of new gun purchasers has been so unrelenting that the FBI has been forced temporarily to stop processing of thousands of appeals from prospective buyers whose firearm purchase attempts have been denied, reports USA Today. Since October, the bureau's entire cadre of 70 appeal examiners was redeployed to help keep pace with waves of incoming background investigations that continued through December, when a record 3.3 million firearm sales were processed. The transfer of examiners, which left a backlog of 7,100 appeals, is part of a makeshift reorganization FBI Assistant Director Stephen Morris said is necessary to handle a workload that expands after every mass shooting and call for increased gun control that invariably prompt firearms sales binges.
“The last several months, we’ve kind of found ourselves in a perfect storm,'' Morris said. In each of the last six months, the number of background checks has risen steadily, ending with December’s record with more than a half-million over the previous monthly high posted after the 2012 Newtown, Ct., school massacre. Since before Thanksgiving, annual leave for the more than 400 employees of the bureau's National Instant Criminal Background Check System has been canceled. That Black Friday, the system was swamped with 185,345 background check requests on new firearm sales, a new single-day record. Morris said temporary background check examiners also are being pulled from internal construction projects and bureau divisions that oversee the gathering of crime statistics. The near-constant frenzy of activity in the FBI's sprawling complex in West Virginia may be the most compelling argument for President Obama's recent addition of 230 examiners to the NICS operation and 200 more agents for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives.