The FBI issued more than 4,000 orders last year to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives for agents to seize guns from people who failed background checks, a report says.
An extensive review of federal records by USA Today found that the retrieval requests reached a 10-year high — thanks in large part to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which conducted a record 27.5 million background checks in 2016.
While the number of successful gun seizures is unclear, similar operations in years past have resulted in a fairly high recovery rate.
The spike is surprising, though, seeing how seeing how Air Force veteran Devin Kelley managed to purchase the semi-automatic rifle that he used in his Texas church massacre — despite having a prior conviction for domestic assault — in April 2016.
Gun owners who were targeted by the feds were either barred from purchasing a firearm due to their criminal backgrounds, mental health issues or other various problems.
“These are people who shouldn’t have weapons in the first place, and it just takes one to do something that could have tragic consequences,” former ATF official David Chipman told USA Today. “You don’t want ATF to stand for ‘after the fact.’”
The FBI launched an internal probe last month of its criminal background data check system after the Air Force admitted that it failed to disclose Kelley’s conviction.
In total, the FBI referred 4,170 gun purchases to the ATF last year for seizure — up from the 2,892 requests that were made in 2015.
A review of 125 transactions made between 2008 and 2014 found that 116, or roughly 93 percent, of the guns that were bought were later recovered.