Trump Justice Department asks for more resources to enforce gun laws
In 2018, the FBI referred more than 4,000 background-check denials to ATF for possible retrieval, according to an NICS operations report. And in 2017, according to the same report, at least 4,800 gun purchases went through that shouldn’t have. Of those, more than 1,000 went to people with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions. And 500 people who were fugitives from justice also successfully bought guns that year.
Some people who slip through the background check process have committed heinous crimes, including white supremacist Dylann Roof, who murdered nine African American parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Roof bought a gun after the three-day background-check waiting period ended, and the FBI learned too late that its system should have blocked him from doing so.
Meanwhile, the workers handling NICS background checks have long been overburdened, as The Trace, a non-profit website funded by Everytown for Gun Safety, has detailed.
“We were under-resourced before this,” said one Justice Department official familiar with the program. “You can only imagine how bad the problem is now.”
The New York Times estimates that Americans bought about 2 million guns this March, as panic about the virus flared. On March 21, according to the BBC, the FBI ran more background checks than it ever has before in a single day: 210,000. And the Department of Homeland Security included gun stores on its list of essential businesses, recommending state governments let them stay open during the pandemic.