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Report: New Low for People Being Prosecuted for Lying in Gun Background Checks

Image: Report: New Low for People Being Prosecuted for Lying in Gun Background Checks

Dylann Roof is charged in the June, 17, 2015 slayings of nine people during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

 

By    |   Thursday, 29 Sep 2016 10:55 PM

People who are being prosecuted for lying on background checks to buy guns illegally from firearms dealers are at a new low — and the FBI's inability to obtain complete information from databases resulted in the Charleston shooter obtaining a weapon last year, according to news reports.

In 2003 alone, the United States Attorney's Office considered 166 people for prosecution because they had lied on their gun applications, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

That compared with just 254 people being considered over the past eight years, from 2008 to 2015 — and action was only taken in those cases if they were they were accompanied by other charges.

The results stem from an analysis of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) by the Justice Department's inspector general, the Free Beacon reported. The data was presented to Congress on Wednesday.

Making false statements on a gun background check form is a federal felony offense.

The inspector general faulted the Attorney's Office for only acting with other charges were involved in the cases, the Free Beacon reported.

"We determined that, in general, USAOs most often prosecuted NICS denial cases when aggravated circumstances existed in addition to the prospective purchaser's false 'no' answer to at least one question on the Form 4473," the report said.

Form 4473 is commonly used in gun background checks.

"While the Department would prosecute particularly egregious false 'no' cases arising from NICS denials, it would prioritize prosecuting prohibited persons who actually obtained guns illegally — as opposed to those who attempted to purchase a firearm by making false statements during the background process but were unsuccessful," according to the report.

The Attorney's Office attributed the falling numbers to a policy shift by the Obama administration after the Sandy Hook school shootings in 2012 — though the inspector general found prosecutions had "dropped substantially" since 2003.

In a closer look at the eight-year data, the inspector general found the FBI denied a total of 556,496 gun purchases after background checks were completed.

Only 254 false statements were considered for prosecution, for a 0.04 percent prosecution rate, during the period.

In six of the background checks they examined, the FBI determined the person trying to buy a gun was legally barred from doing so, the Free Beacon reported.

However, the FBI did not inform the store processing the purchase of the matter for as long as seven months afterward.

In another 59 cases, the inspector general found the FBI approved people who should have been denied, according to the report.

The inspector general, in addition, found state agencies processing checks through NICS did not update information in the system property nor did they inform the FBI of the outcome of their checks in all but one of the cases examined, the Free Beacon reported.

The inspector also concluded the FBI lacked a way to track whether all necessary evidence has been gathered for background checks that are pending in NICS.

The bureau also does not review other potentially important database of state and local information during background checks, according to the report.

That database, the inspector general said, had data that could have prevented Dylann Roof from obtaining the gun that he used in the shootings at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last year.

"Although we found the overall FBI error rate was exceedingly low, even an isolated NICS process breakdown can have tragic consequences, as evidenced by the June 2015 fatal shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina church," the inspector general's report said.

The NICS process, "with timely and accurate data from local agencies, could have prevented the alleged shooter from purchasing the gun he allegedly used."

The Justice Department's inspector general found another FBI report "attributed primary responsibility for the delay that allowed the firearm to be transferred to untimely responses and incomplete records at various state and local agencies that feed into NICS, a problem we identified more generally in our review."

Despite the department's report, the Attorney's Office does not believe the low prosecution rate is a problem and has no plan to reconsider its policies, the Free Beacon reported.

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People who are being prosecuted for lying on background checks to buy guns illegally from firearms dealers are at a new low — and the FBI's inability to obtain complete information from databases resulted in the Charleston shooter obtaining a weapon last year, according to news reports.
gun, guns, control, rights, background, checks
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2016-55-29
Thursday, 29 Sep 2016 10:55 PM
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