Millions of Fugitives Missed in Gun Background Checks

Thursday, 24 Apr 2014 11:48 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Millions of fugitives can buy guns illegally because of negligent police departments across the country, USA Today has revealed.

Law enforcement agencies often fail to register the names of people with outstanding arrest warrants on a national database, allowing them to go undetected in federal background checks and obtain licenses for weapons.

The newspaper said that the FBI background checks were created to prevent fugitives, convicted felons and the mentally ill from buying guns.

The National Instant Background Check System program was built to help authorities nationwide check whether a person had an arrest warrant out for them, and if so they were barred from obtaining firearms legally, no matter how small the crime.

But USA Today pointed out that in five states alone, police failed to provide information about 2.5 million outstanding arrest warrants, of which tens of thousands are for violent offenses and others serious crimes.

"It is unfortunately not surprising to me the extent to which there are holes in our system, given Congress' lack of success in addressing them," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

According to the newspaper, since 1998 the FBI has prevented 113,000 guns being sold to people with outstanding arrest warrants.

Search, a non-profit that helps states share criminal records, estimated as many as 6 million arrest warrants may be missing from FBI records.

The report claimed that the reason that local law enforcement agencies do not notify the FBI about fugitives is because they are reluctant to spend the time or money to chase criminals across state borders.

The FBI system was built to help police apprehend fugitives after they leave the state where they face arrest. But in many cases, particularly involving minor crimes, states and their police departments have little interests in adding names of fugitives to the database that they have no intention of pursuing across state lines.

Police departments and the criminal courts are not required to share warrant information with the FBI, USA Today added.

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