The federal government issued more than 4,000 requests to take guns back from buyers who were prohibited from owning guns. These gun purchases are people who should have been blocked from buying weapons because they had criminal records, mental health issues or other problems that would disqualify them.
The newspaper USA Today reviewed the FBI records and found that last year the agency made 4,000 such requests to remove guns from the ownership of people who failed background checks. This is the largest number of such retrievals in 10 years. The year before, the agency requested a retrieval of 2,892 guns, so this number is a significant increase. HR 38, the national reciprocity bill that just passed the House expands background checks. So this should mean that the feds will have less mistakes that they’ll have to go back and fix if the bill becomes law, which we believe it will.
More people are looking into this issue because of the recent shooter in a Texas church who legally purchased guns but should not have been able to because the Air Force failed to report his status as a domestic violence assailant. According to the system of background checks in place now, if the background check is not complete within the 72-hour time limit, federal law allows the sale to go forward. ATF agents are then later asked to take back the guns if the FBI later finds these sales should have been denied.
The article goes on to say that there’s no way to tell how many guns the FBI was able to recover or not recover. Since people can buy multiple guns in a single purchase with a single background check, that 4,000 requests could translate into a much higher number of guns if the people were buying more than one at the time of their failed background check.
The ATF doesn’t consider the gun retrievals to be a top priority. Staff shortages and technology problems means that it could be up to a year before the ATF comes after any guns that people were not supposed to get. Here’s what the report says: “ATF agents did not consider most of the prohibited persons who had obtained guns to be dangerous and therefore did not consider it a priority to retrieve the firearm promptly.” Maybe they read the report that says that concealed carry permit holders are law-abiding.