NICS specialist prevents illegal gun sale

A liaison specialist working in the FBI’s background check e-system halted three illegal gun transfers last year.

An specialist processing applications through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System caught the attempted purchases Nov. 8, just eight days after police arrested the buyer for illegal possession of marijuana and methamphetamine.

According to an agency press release, the buyer submitted one background check on Oct. 28 and two on Nov. 8. The first of the transactions was approved Nov. 1, while a second remained in “delay” status when the agent received the third application. After requesting the the buyer’s arrest report from Oct. 30, the FBI agent learned police seized an additional firearm during the incident. His admitted drug possession, likewise, disqualified him from gun ownership, according to the release.

The specialist denied the latter two purchases and revoked the Nov. 1 approval — the dealer had not yet transferred the gun in that case.

“This incident demonstrates how quickly an individual’s eligibility to purchase a firearm can change,” the agency said Monday.

It’s a rarity for the FBI to divulge specifics behind successful background check denials. More than 1.6 million disqualifying records were added into the federal background check system index in 2016, giving agents the information necessary to deny more than 120,000 firearm transfers.

Nearly 41 percent of those denials comprised applicants convicted a crime punishable by more than one year in prison — or two years for a misdemeanor. Another 20 percent of applicants were denied as “fugitives from justice.” About 9 percent of denials in 2016 were related to substance abuse.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in March the Department of Justice would renew focus on prosecuting “lie and try” cases involving disqualified buyers who lie on federal background check forms. While the department has caught dozens of such transactions in the last two months — including this man in Tennessee and eight people in Rhode Island — others fell through the cracks.

An Indiana man will spend at least 20 years behind bars for the attempted murder of landlord with guns his criminal convictions barred him from owning, previously reported. It’s unclear why the FBI approved the man’s background check application for two 9mm handguns, just six hours before he shot his landlord over a rent dispute.

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