Feds investigate few NICS denials, prosecute even less
By Daniel Terrill
States in dark blue were the ones examined for the study. (Graphic: GAO)
Internal watch dogs found that the ATF investigated only a small percentage of individuals denied a firearm through the federal background check system and just a mere fraction of a percentage point of those individuals were prosecuted.
For the report published last week, the Government Accountability Office reviewed 13 states that use local or state agencies to process checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Out of 8.6 million firearm-related checks in Fiscal Year 2017, they denied 112,090, the report showed. Then, only 12,710 of those cases were investigated and 12 actually prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
While the figures themselves are staggering, both the ATF and U.S. Attorney’s Office say investigating denials may not be the best use of their time.
As the number of cases referred to the ATF grows — an increase of 59 percent over six years — field offices have resorted to sending “warning notices” to denied persons in lieu of prosecution rather than using their limited time and resources, ATF officials told the GAO.
On top of that, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said prosecuting denial cases can require significant effort and may offer little