Background checks for gun purchases up since Newtown massacre-FBI data

By Nick Carey

CHICAGO, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Background checks for firearms purchases spiked after the Dec. 14 mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, new data from the FBI showed on Monday.

According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), nine of the top 10 days for firearms checks from Nov. 30, 1998, to Jan. 27, 2013, including Dec. 14, 2012, occurred since Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School and then shot and killed himself.

Lanza also killed his mother before the school massacre. His use of an AR 15 assault-type rifle and high-capacity ammunition magazines have been at the heart of the contentious debate over gun control.

The NICS is a nationwide system for checking criminal records, developed by the FBI with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and local and state law enforcement agencies. The system is run by the FBI.

According to the FBI data, the leading six days for background checks before the sale of firearms occurred after Dec. 14, 2012. The top five weeks for background checks were the week of the massacre and afterward.

Since Nov. 30, 1998, the top day for background checks before gun sales was Dec. 21, 2012, a week after the massacre. Checks that day numbered 177,170.

The top week since Nov. 30, 1998, was Dec. 17 to Dec. 23, 2012, when 953,613 background checks were requested.

Gun control advocates argue that civilians do not need to own assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Gun rights supporters argue that efforts to ban assault weapons are an attack on the second amendment right of the U.S. constitution, which addresses the right to bear arms. (Reporting By Nick Carey)