FBI Is Playing Games With Gun Background Checks

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For more than two decades, the system codified in federal law for ensuring that persons prohibited from possessing a firearm are not able to lawfully acquire one from a licensed firearms retailer has worked reasonably well. Since 1998 when the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or “NICS,” became operational, the FBI has completed hundreds of millions of background checks on prospective gun purchasers; 28.4 million last year alone.

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For some reason, however, the FBI recently has taken to playing games with NICS, and by bureaucratic fiat ignoring or overriding an important provision in the law. Neither firearms purchasers nor retailers should stand for such skullduggery.

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The provision at issue is that which permits the FBI to place what amounts to a “hold” on a prospective firearm purchase, in order to allow the Bureau time to determine if a particular purchaser falls within one of the several categories of persons not permitted to possess a gun. Under the law establishing NICS, with the FBI as the “go-to” agency, that temporary “hold” is strictly limited to “three business days.”

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