According to the FBI, over 1.5 million background checks on customers were requested by gun dealers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in December. Nearly 500,000 of those were in the six days before Christmas.
It was the highest number ever in a single month, surpassing the previous record set in November.
On Dec 23 alone there were 102,222 background checks, making it the second busiest single day for buying guns in history.
The actual number of guns bought may have been even higher if individual customers took home more than one each.
Explanations for America’s surge in gun buying include that it is a response to the stalled economy with people fearing crime waves. Another theory is that buyers are rushing to gun shops because they believe tighter firearms laws will be introduced in the future.
Gun sales soar amid fears of Barack Obama weapons ban
President Barack Obama may never have fired a gun but he is turning out to be one of the best firearms salesman in American history.
“I’ve sold probably four times as much in the last six months as I have in 20 years combined,” said Cliff Hunter, owner of Tommy Bronson Sporting Goods in Memphis. “Hand guns and the tactical weapons, they’re absolutely off the charts.”
Most of his gun sales used to be for hunting, or personal protection in a city riddled with crime. But just before the November election, anxiety that Mr Obama would win and enact a radical programme of curtailing gun rights began drove business right up.
“Obama’s a liberal socialist and I think he’s proven quickly how extreme he is,” he said. “When they get through healthcare, guns are on the table. They’re not talking about it but it’s going to happen.”
The FBI recorded a 49 per cent rise in gun background checks during election week compared to the same week a year earlier.
“Sales have been up 50, 60 per cent sinces Osama got elected,” said Jay Hill, owner of the Classic Firearms gun store in Cordova, just outside Memphis, smiling as he deliberately mixed up the name of the US president with the leader of al-Qaeda.