Washington, DC -- In addition to the sleek flat-screen televisions, smartphones, computers and cut-rate designer clothing, Black Friday's shopping legions seized on another hot item for 2011: guns.
Gun dealers flooded the FBI with background check requests for prospective buyers last Friday, smashing the single-day, all-time high by 32%, according to bureau records.
Deputy Assistant FBI Director Jerry Pender said the checks, required by federal law, surged to 129,166 during the day, far surpassing the previous high of 97,848 on Black Friday of 2008.
The actual number of firearms sold last Friday is likely higher because multiple firearms can be included in a transaction by a single buyer. And the FBI does not track actual gun sales.
Some gun industry analysts attributed the unusual surge to a convergence of factors, including an increasing number of first-time buyers seeking firearms for protection and women who are being drawn to sport shooting and hunting.
Larry Keane, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said 25% of the purchases typically involve first-time buyers, many of them women.
"I think there also is a burgeoning awakening of the American public that they do have a constitutional right to own guns," Keane said.
Yet Keane said last Friday's number appeared to defy complete explanation. "It's really pretty amazing," he said.
Dennis Henigan, acting president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said he was "skeptical" of the Black Friday gun surge.
"I think there may be no real signifcance at all," Henigan said. "It's possible that gun companies are just catching on to creating a Black Friday frenzy for themselves."