NBC12 Investigates: VSP gun background checks increase

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As the investigation into the massacre at Sandy Hook School continues, the discussion in Washington and around the country has turned to gun control. While the shooting took place hundreds of miles away, we've learned stores in the Richmond-metro area are seeing an increase in sales.

NBC12 checked in with Virginia State Police, which performs background checks before purchases. It saw a record number of requests this past weekend, the weekend after twenty young lives were taken by a gunman.

The numbers are staggering, but not surprising to those who make their living selling guns. David Hancock has been in the firearms business for 35 years and explains his sales started going up before the election.

"Every time somebody says the word 'ban,' gun sales always go up," he said.

The argument over gun control resumed this past weekend, after a crazed gunman went on a shooting rampage in an elementary school, ending the lives of 6- and 7-year-olds.

"There's always going to be a few people who have the fear that it could be banned, so they want to grab one now because if they don't get one now, they'll never have it," Hancock told us.

NBC12 asked state police for the numbers of requested gun background checks for each day this past weekend in comparison to those corresponding days last year. For Friday, 700 more checks were requested this year, compared to 2011. Saturday, the statistics went up from 2,422 checks performed in 2011, to more than 4,000 this past Saturday. That number is nearly double. Sunday, almost 800 more gun background checks were requested, again, leading to an almost 50 percent increase.

The system allows for one background check per customer, not per weapon. So these numbers represent background checks requested, not weapons sold.

Saturday, one day after the president spoke about the massacre, those numbers broke records. State police say it was the highest volume of transactions in one day since the 80s.

"We have nominated Obama as the greatest gun salesman in history because every time he opens his mouth and says 'ban,' sales skyrocketed," Hancock added.

VSP also explains it typically sees an increase in gun background checks this time of year, as people purchase firearms as holiday presents.

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