Holiday season puts stress on gun check system

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday now behind us, holiday spending has kicked into high gear. Toys, electronics, apparel and a host of other items are selling at higher rates than at most any other time of the year.

Another category being sold in droves during the holiday season is guns. Depending on where you stand on the gun control issue, that can be interpreted as either good or bad news. But for people on both sides of the issue, the rapid sale of firearms should be a concern because the system designed to prevent the sale of firearms to people who by law should not have them is taxed beyond its capacity. And that can mean a mentally unstable person could end up with a deadly weapon.

Contributing most to this problem are two issues. One is that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, has a difficult time keeping up with the requests coming in from licensed gun dealers to perform background checks on prospective gun purchasers. The other is that employees and contract workers performing the NICS background checks often lack a complete set of information about prospective gun buyers because states often don’t provide much of the data or are slow to update their information regarding criminal convictions, mental health orders and the like.

The problem becomes acute at this time of year…

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