The Federal Bureau of Investigation recorded more than 16.8 million background checks for gun purchases in 2012, the highest number since the FBI began publishing the data in 1998. A record number of requests for background checks for gun buyers went through on Black Friday in November, the FBI reported at the time, in part because of fears that President Barack Obama and other lawmakers would tighten gun control laws.
The FBI does not track actual firearms purchases, and the number of weapons sold could be even higher than the number of background-check calls because customers can purchase multiple guns, USA Today reports.
If the past is any indication, Friday's mass shooting will do little to slow the pace of sales. It’s not uncommon for gun sales to see a boost following a mass shooting, as buyers head to stores mostly motivated by self-defense, according to the Christian Science Monitor. In the first four days following the July mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., gun sales increased 41 percent, the CSM reported.
On Friday some pro-gun groups took to Twitter urging people to buy guns: Conservative pundit Ann Coulter tweeted "more guns, less mass shootings" in the wake of the event.
Gun control proponents outraged by Friday's events called for action. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged Obama to take "immediate action" to tighten gun laws.
Though the industry is doing well, overall gun ownership is actually on the decline, according to political scientist Patrick Egan. Firearm ownership is at near all-time lows.
Still, the firearms industry had a $31.8 billion impact on the economy last year, up from $27.8 billion in 2009, due to job creation, sales and taxes levied on guns, according to data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
The firearms industry didn't see much dropoff in the recession that hit so many other U.S. businesses. Gun industry-related jobs grew by more than 30 percent between 2008 and 2011, according to NSSF data cited by Forbes.
Demand for firearms was “robust” in 2008 and through the downturn, according to National Shooting Sports Foundation statements cited by MarketWatch. In addition, the Foundation noted in 2011 that many indicators showed that the industry “continues to thrive in a down economy,” according to Marketwatch.