Home | Editor's Choice | FBI Issues Over 4,000 Gun Seizure Orders for Failed Background Checks – Report

FBI Issues Over 4,000 Gun Seizure Orders for Failed Background Checks – Report

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The FBI has issued 4,170 orders to the ATF to seize guns from people who bought them last year after it was discovered the purchases were not authorized. This follows a federal review of an agency tasked with overseeing millions of firearms sales each year.

USA Today report Monday says that the people cited as having bought the weapons had criminal records, mental health problems or other issues that would have initially disqualified them from making the purchases.

The FBI’s gun seizure order total for 2016, the largest of its kind in 10 years, was to be executed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

It is not clear how many seizure requests ATF agents actually executed last year, or the total number of guns that were seized during the operation. The report states that the guns seized could be more than 4,000, due to the fact that multiple firearms can be purchased in one transaction, USA Today reported.

According to federal law, the sale of a firearm is allowed to proceed to any person looking to buy it, on the condition that a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) analyst does not complete a background check of the gun buyer within 72 hours from the time the buyer tries to purchase a gun. The ATF must, by law, retrieve any gun that is legally bought through the failure to complete the background check, if it is later determined that the person was not authorized to buy the gun.

It is not known if this is the exact reason for the high number of retrieval orders issued by the FBI, and the FBI says the ATF is not required to report back on the amount of guns retrieved during the operation, according to USA Today.


The report comes on the heels of a “comprehensive review” ordered by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month into NICS practices. The FBI and ATF are currently conducting the review.

Sessions decided to follow through with the review after a breakdown in the agency’s system enabled troubled military veteran Devin Patrick Kelley to illegally purchase a rifle. Kelley subsequently killed 26 people and injured 20 with the rifle at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5.

Officials from the US Air Force acknowledged after the shooting that the force did not transmit a record of Kelley’s court martial to the FBI, following a 2012 domestic assault charge that occurred while the man was in the service. The court martial would have rendered Kelley ineligible to buy the rifle.

The Air Force stated last Tuesday that a preliminary review conducted by the service, focusing on the error in Kelley’s case, indicated that “similar reporting lapses occurred at other locations” within the force, USA Today reported.

The number of people buying guns in the US grew on one of the biggest shopping days of the year. On November 24, also known as Black Friday, the FBI received 203,086 requests for background checks in a single day. This is more than the previous two record setting years. In 2016, 185,713 requests were made on Black Friday, while 2015’s total reached 185,345.

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