The FBI has issued more than 4,000 orders to seize firearms sold to individuals who should have failed their background checks due to criminal records, mental health issues or other disqualifying reasons. According to a USA Today review of FBI records, it’s the largest number of such requests in a decade coinciding with record gun sales and background check requests.
The astonishing vetting failure is particularly serious in the wake of the Texas church shooting last month. In that case, a mentally disturbed Air Force veteran with a criminal rap sheet should have been prevented from lawfully obtaining a firearm but obtained at least four through legal means which he used to kill 26 worshippers, including children.
In response Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a sweeping review of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) which vets millions of aspiring gun purchasers per year.
One known problem in the system is the stipulation that if a background check is not completed within 72-hours, the sale is allowed to go forward. Then if the sales should have been denied, ATF agents are tasked to retrieve the firearms. However, gun dealers do have the choice not to transfer the firearm following the official sale until the background check is complete.
Ideally, this rule is to function as a safeguard to prevent anti-gun states or bureaucrats from running out the clock or otherwise slow-walking firearms ownership.
It is unclear how many of these 4,000 firearms were obtained in this manner or how many of them will be retrieved.