Gun background checks: February is third-biggest month ever

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February was the third-biggest month on record for gun background checks, according to data released Wednesday by the FBI.

Background checks, which the FBI conducts every time someone tries to buy a gun from a federally licensed dealer, rose to 2.6 million in February, according to the bureau.

February's total falls short of the record set in December, 2015, when 3.3 million background checks were recorded.

The second biggest month was in December, 2012, the month of the Sandy Hook school massacre that killed 26, when the FBI logged 2.8 million checks.

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Background checks, which are conducted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, often spike after mass shootings. This is partly because gun buyers fear for their safety, and partly because they're wary that the crimes might result in more gun control.

There were two high profile mass shootings in February. One at a lawnmower factory in Kansas and another allegedly involving an Uber driver in Michigan.

2015 was a record year for background checks since the FBI started tracking them in 1998.

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