MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Big box stores are known as the biggest benefactors of Black Friday sales, but this year gun shops set records of their own.

The FBI ran more than 185,000 background checks on Black Friday for people looking to purchase guns from licensed dealers. That’s 5 percent more than last year.

Recent shootings across the country and discounts on guns are likely major reasons for the uptick in sales.

Chris Edman was among those who took advantage of the Black Friday sales to purchase a new Smith & Wesson handgun. He said he got $125 off the original price.

“It works great,” he said. “I think this one is wonderful.”

But the gun isn’t for Chris. It’s for his wife.

“More people want to protect themselves. This pistol is for my wife to carry,” he said. “I already carry one at all times.”

Andrew Rothman is President of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance.

“The last several years have seen a tremendous increase in firearms sales,” he said.

Rothman says he’s not surprised by the record number of Black Friday background checks, or by the more than 210,000 Minnesotans who now have gun permits. He said guns are more affordable now, but mostly he believes recent mass shootings across the country have people looking to protect themselves.

“Whenever there is a crime committed, politicians start talking about making guns harder to get, before they are hindered by the laws from doing so,” Rothman said. “Going after the hardware of responsible gun owners isn’t going to be an effective way of reducing crime.”

Those in favor of gun laws have a different theory. Heather Martens is the Executive Director of Protect Minnesota. Her organization believes that more guns in households will put more people at risk.

“To make some claims that the government is going to take our guns so you have to hurry up and buy more guns — we know there is no basis in that,” Martens said. “As far as I know, no conceal and carry holder has ever stopped a terrorist attack or a mass shooting.”

Rothman said that about 1 in every 22 adults in Minnesota now has a permit to carry a handgun. Martens said that most of the recent consumers who have been buying guns are people who are already gun owners.

John Lauritsen

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