A Clinton-era policy on voluntary drugs tests may have allowed alleged Tucson gunman Jared Loughner to purchase guns. The policy barred the military from reporting drug users to the FBI, The Washington Post reports
Loughner, whose alleged shooting spree killed six and wounded 13 including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, failed a drug test when he tried to enlist in the Army in 2008.
Tangled federal regulations have barred gun sales to drug users since 1968 and gun dealers have been required to check on gun buyers’ status since 1994.
The FBI oversees the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which compiles names of those barred from buying guns.
However, Attorney General Janet Reno instructed federal agencies not to report those who had voluntarily been tested because it might keep them from seeking treatment, the Post said.
The policy continued in effect at the Defense Department despite a 2007 law ordering all federal agencies to forward names to the FBI.
Defense Department spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said, "Currently, there is no statute that clearly stipulates what conditions or scenario would warrant a report about military applicants or recruits to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System," the Post reported.
Between 1998 and 2008 some 65,000 drug abusers have been barred from purchasing guns. There are currently 6 million names in the NICS database, with some 2,000 appearing on the list for drugs, the Post said.
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