This weekend set a new record for all single-day background check submittals in Colorado for potential gun purchases, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation officials.
The first day after news of one of the worst mass shootings in America, when a gunman killed 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., requests to buy guns in Colorado surged to more than 4,200.
Exact figures weren’t available Monday morning while submittals were being processed, CBI spokeswoman Susan Medina said.
But Medina said Saturday’s figures exceeded the previous greatest number of background checks on Black Friday this year, when 4,028 were processed.
The surge following the massacre was so massive it overwhelmed the system, Medina said. So many background checks were submitted the process that normally usually takes minutes turned into wait times of more than 12 hours.
“We had to call in extra staff,”Medina said. “The wait times were high.”
Saturday morning the wait time on a check was a little more than 15 minutes. By Sunday, it was 18 hours, Medina said.
Medina said Monday the backlog meant wait times of about 19 hours.
Because the system and staff were unexpectedly inundated with the checks, exact figures are still being collected, Medina said. Whereas CBI prepared for weeks leading up to Black Friday, this weekend caught the bureau by surprise, she said.
On Sunday, President Barack Obama vowed to use “whatever power this office holds” in efforts to prevent another mass shooting in the U.S.
According to CBI data, last year 245,475 firearm applications were approved out of the 251,307 submitted. The approval figure doesn’t provide the scope of gun sales, as a buyer can get multiple guns with a single background check and the state doesn’t track gun purchases.
FBI data show that 16.4 million background checks were run nationwide in 2011.