NICS Background Checks
NICS Background Checks FBI

The federal background checks for firearm sales witnessed a 10 percent decline in January to 2,495,440 following a huge surge in demand at the end of 2012, even as Washington mulls new gun-control legislation following mass shooting in public places across the nation last year.

New data released by the FBI reveals that demand for background checks witnessed an unprecedented high at 2,783,765 in December 2012, following the horrific Newtown school shootout Dec.14 last year, killing 20 first-graders and six adults.

Apparently, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi saw the largest decline in background checks from December to January, has reported.

Despite the 10 percent dip in demand for background checks in January, the FBI data seems to emphasize how December 2012 and January 2013 account for the maximum number of background check requests since the records commenced in 1998.

Experts attribute the rise in demand for background checks in December and January to panic-buying among citizens, who are eager to possess a firearm before the gun-control measures proposed by the government are implemented.

"This one's easy. If the American population thinks that a product that they want – whether firearms or DVDs – may not be available in the near future, they will go for it," Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association explained to Guardian.

The data release gains credence in the wake of the White House and pro-gun control lawmakers recommending proposals that seek to ban a range of military-style assault weapons.

Assault weapons such as semi-automatic assault rifles were banned in the U.S. in 1994 but the ban lapsed in 2004.

Predictably, the pro-gun lobby and the National Rifle Association remain opposed to the proposals, which also face stiff opposition from the Republican-majority House of Representatives.

A federal background check on those seeking to own a gun was made mandatory since 1998. The checks are carried out by the FBI using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to ensure that the prospective firearm owner is sane sans any criminal history and is not disqualified to own a firearm.

Existing laws come under scrutiny as they seem to exempt private gun sellers including those who sell over the Internet from subjecting their customers to a background check. The pro-gun control lobby clearly highlights this as a dangerous loophole in the system. This practice classifies 40 percent of gun sales in the U.S. as private and therefore they do not come under the purview of FBI, thus increasing chances of the weapons falling into the wrong hands.