According to recently released FBI statistics, a record number of criminal background checks were requested by gun merchants in 2012. Over 367,000 background checks were requested, a state record and an increase of nearly 100,000 additional requests over the 2011 total. Although background checks do not translate directly to sales, as many requests are rejected, they do serve as a rough proxy for how many people are interested in purchasing firearms.
Interest in carrying guns for personal protection has been steadily increasing in Oklahoma for several years now. The state currently has over 140,000 conceal and carry permit holders, and the number of people applying for a permit has skyrocketed in the last four years, during Obama’s presidency. Background checks are not conducted just for handguns but for other firearms as well, so the number of Oklahoma residents who own firearms is much greater than the number who are licensed permit holders. The state of Oklahoma has a history of failing to report mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a database that enables gun sellers to check a buyer's eligibility.
Oklahoma’s trend mirrors the national trend. 2012 was a record year for gun background checks with over nineteen million background checks nationally in 2012, and increase of over three million from 2011, the previous record year. Criminal background checks for firearm purchases were up nineteen percent over 2011, and they have more than doubled in the past ten years.
Recent mass shootings have contributed to an increase in firearm purchase attempts, even as they have also intensified gun control efforts in the country. The increased interest in purchasing firearms may be due both to a combination of fear for personal safety surrounding the recent shootings and a concern that new legislation may curtail people's ability to make gun purchases.