Black Friday: American shops offer bargain basement deals on guns, bullets

Authorities bring on a hundred extra staff to deal with surge in background checks

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Authorities in the United States are expecting to conduct hundreds of thousands of background checks today as outlets selling firearms and ammunition offer shoppers Black Friday deals.

Last Black Friday 145,000 background checks on people buying firearms were conducted by US authorities, up from about 58,000 on a typical day.

The country’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System is drafting in 100 extra staff to deal with the huge surge of people buying guns today.

The backlog of background checks on previous Black Fridays has in the past caused concerns because under US law if a check if not conducted within three days then it is cancelled and the gun is sold without one.

There are more than 48,000 gun shops in the United States, with many major supermarket chains including Wal-Mart selling firearms.

Gun sales are expected to be particularly high in the state of Missouri this year, where unrest over the shooting of a man by a police officer in questionable circumstances is taking place.

Local media has reported a huge surge in gun purchases over the last months, with some shoppers saying they wanted to be ‘ready’ for riots.

People buying weapons can be disqualified for ten factors, including a felony conviction, an arrest warrant, mental health issues or a history of domestic violence. 71% of purchase attempts raise no issues.

Other popular occasions for the purchase of firearms in the United States include Christmas and the birthdays of relatives.

Gun crime is rife in the United States, with people in the country roughly as likely to be shot dead as die in a car accident. In some states controls on guns are being relaxed, despite regular massacres at schools and colleges.

Politicians are reluctant to ban guns in the US because the country's constitution specifically protects the right to own weapons. A powerful lobby also funds candidates in favour of looser controls on weapons.