Background check failures result in 4000 seizure orders

  • 7 December 2017
  • NormanL
Background check failures result in 4000 seizure orders

Congress is weighing legislation to tighten the gaps in the existing background check system for firearms purchases. While that legislation may not be as effective as its proponents hope, background check failures are very real. And as this item in USA Today notes, they are more extensive than previously understood:

Federal authorities sought to take back guns from thousands of people the background check system should have blocked from buying weapons because they had criminal records, mental health issues or other problems that would disqualify them.

A USA TODAY review found that the FBI issued more than 4,000 requests last year for agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives to retrieve guns from prohibited buyers.

It's the largest number of such retrieval requests in 10 years, according to FBI records – an especially striking statistic after revelations that a breakdown in the background check system allowed a troubled Air Force veteran to buy a rifle later used to kill 26 worshipers at a Texas church last month.

The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) vets millions of gun purchase transactions every year. But the thousands of gun seizure requests highlight persistent problems in a system where analysts must complete background checks within three days of the proposed purchase. If the background check is not complete within the 72-hour time limit, federal law allows the sale to go forward. ATF agents are asked to take back the guns if the FBI later finds these sales should have been denied.

Part of the rise in seizures is a result of more background check requests:

The sudden spike in gun retrieval directives is attributed in part to the record 27.5 million background checks fielded by NICS examiners last year.

More than 200,000 background requests were requested on Black Friday alone -- a new record. Given the increased workload, some associated wth the ATF are calling for a longer waiting period to confirm that those seekign to buy firearms can legally do so:

...the former ATF official Chipman called the 72-hour provision "reckless" and a concession to "the powerful gun industry that nobody wants to irritate."

For now, much of the attention on gun policy by lawmakers has focused on boosting compliance with current reporting requirements to the FBI.

Perhaps what is required is better technology to manage the load. Governments are notrious for running aged computer systems that can barely keep up with current demands (nevermind security). 

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