It’s no surprise, but now it’s official: The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Wednesday that it conducted 19.6 million instant background checks on Americans wishing to buy firearms in 2012, almost 20 percent more than in 2011 and an all-time record.

The record-setting year in firearms sales was capped by a record-setting December in which the FBI processed 2.78 million gun background checks, a 39 percent increase from November.

CBS News senior correspondent and former FBI national intelligence official, John Miller, explained in a Jan. 3 blog that while December typically brings peak gun sales, three elements combined in 2012 — Black Friday, sales on the Saturday before Christmas, and the fear that more restrictive gun laws will be passed — to produce “the perfect storm for gun sales.”

Miller added that gun store owners say the AR-15 rifle — the weapon used in the Newtown school massacre and other recent mass shootings in the U.S. — is “flying off the shelves,” likely because gun enthusiasts are concerned that a potential assault weapons ban could limit availability of the AR-15.

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