Since 2006, licensed gun dealers transferred 6,780 firearms to individuals with domestic violence records, according to a government accountability report published Tuesday.
While federal agents were assigned to retrieve the guns, the federal background check system should have prevented the transaction as misdemeanor domestic violence convictions and protection orders are prohibiting factors.
According to the report, the prohibited buyers slipped through the cracks because state-reported records were not always readily available for examiners at the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Although the Justice Department supplies aid to assist states in record sharing through training and grants, it does not monitor the timeliness of checks that result in denials by prohibiting category, the report says.
From fiscal years 2006 to 2015, the FBI completed most denials for domestic violence convictions within seven business days. Of the approximately 59,000 denials, 41,000 were processed in three days and 18,000 after three days, but 6,221 were transferred.
In that same timeline, the FBI completed most denials based on domestic violence protection orders in fewer than three business days. Of the approximately 30,000 denials, 28,000 were processed in three days and 2,000 after three days, but 559 were transferred.
The report says most of the 50 states submit domestic violence records to NICS, but efforts to flag such records vary by state.
In 2015, 22 states voluntarily participated in a program to identify criminal history records, including domestic violence, that prohibit individuals from obtaining firearms. Also, 47 states identified domestic violence protection orders. However, not all domestic violence records submitted to NICS meet federal prohibiting criteria.
The report points out that federal oversight is limited. State are not required to flag prohibiting domestic violence records, so total number records are generally unknown to the feds.
The report recommends the Justice Department establish “priorities for improving the timeliness of checks” and that the FBI monitor the timeliness of NICS checks.
In January, President Obama issued executive actions to update the background check system that included collaboration between the feds and states to improve NICS record keeping. The action had an emphasis on mental illness and domestic violence records.