A report released today by USA TODAY found that in 2016 the FBI ordered the seizure of over 4,000 guns that should never have been sold because of failed background checks.
How did this happen? Currently, when a person purchases a firearm from a federally licensed dealer they must go through a background check through a system called the National Instant Background Check System (NICS). Once the check is run, the FBI has 72 hours to run a background check and report back if the individual should not be allowed to purchase a firearm. If that window runs out before the check can be completed, it is up to the seller whether to make the sale or wait. Some dealers will not sell until they get a firm yes, and in PA, under the PICS system, sales cannot go through until there is a firm yes.
The number of guns improperly sold under this default proceed system could be much higher because in many states, there are no limits to the number of guns an individual can purchase at one time. These seizures put law enforcement in an extremely dangerous and risky situation as they try to retrieve guns from people who should not have them in the first place. There are no statistics of how effective the retrievals are because the ATF is not required to release that information.
Click here to learn more about the importance of the Pennsylvania Instant Background Check System (PICS).