reports that bargain-priced flat-screen televisions, smartphones and computers were not the only big sellers on Black Friday.
Gun sales also posted record numbers.
In an under-reported story, gun dealers flooded the FBI with background-check requests for prospective buyers on Black Friday, smashing the single-day, all-time high by 32 percent, according to bureau records. An FBI spokesman said that the checks, required by federal law, surged to 129,166 during the day, eclipsing the previous high of 97,848 on Black Friday of 2008.
The actual number of firearms sold 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 surge to a convergence of factors, including an increasing number of first-time buyers seeking firearms for protection. Larry Keane, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said that 25 percent 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.
Mr. Keane might also have mentioned that surging gun sales is the American public's commonsense response to accounts of brutal attacks on defenseless victims, like the following.
On Nov. 7, Darren Rogers, 46, was walking to his job as a concierge on the overnight shift at an apartment building in a quiet, historic section of Society Hill. It was near 11:30 p.m.
In an Inquirer report, two men in hoodies walking in the opposite direction split apart, forcing Rogers to walk between them. One of them threw a punch, knocking Rogers to the ground. A security camera caught them punching and kicking him for 45 seconds as Rogers kicked and flailed in self-defense.
The camera then captured a muzzle flash.
The men jogged away with nothing.
Rogers was shot once in the chest, the bullet ricocheting off his spinal cord. His heart stopped that night on the operating-room table. Doctors again had to restart his heart the week after the shooting, after a blood clot traveled from his leg. To date, he has had four surgeries to repair the wounds. He still is in the intensive-care unit, but his mother reports that he has feeling in his legs and is growing stronger.
Although Rogers is black, and his assailants are white, the police do not believe that the attack was racially motivated. "It looks as random as could be," according to the detective handling the case.
The American public also responds to accounts of similar incidents with vastly different outcomes when victims have the means to defend themselves.
A few days after the start of the fall semester, a 15-year-old thug and two accomplices who tried to rob a Temple University student at gunpoint got the surprise of their young lives when the student pulled out a piece of his own, in self-defense.
The 15-year-old gunman opened fire, at which point the student fired back. Multiple shots were fired. The student was struck in the stomach and the robber in the chest and leg. Both survived.
Fortunately, the student, a sophomore, had a license to carry a concealed weapon.
Arguably, it saved his life.
On Black Friday, a 33-year-old man was delivering pizza to a vacant house in Philadelphia's East Germantown section when an assailant appeared from the driveway and robbed him. The deliveryman surrendered his wallet and cash.
A struggle then ensued, and the deliveryman wrested the gun from his attacker and fired. The 26-year-old assailant died 12 hours later.
The police classified the shooting as justified. Undoubtedly, most Americans would agree.
Dennis Henigan, acting president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said that he was skeptical of the Black Friday gun surge. "I think there may be no real significance at all," Henigan said. "It's possible that gun companies are just catching on to creating a Black Friday frenzy for themselves."
Mr. Henigan must think that the American public is deaf, dumb and blind.