U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a far-ranging review of the FBI database used to check the backgrounds of prospective gun buyers.
The move comes after the Air Force failed to report the criminal history of the gunman who killed more than two dozen people at a Texas church.
The memo directs the FBI and ATF to take the following steps:
- Work with the Department of Defense to identify and resolve any issues with the military’s reporting of convictions and other information relevant to determining prohibited person status under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).
- Conduct a review to identify other federal government entities that are not fully and accurately reporting information to NICS. If any such entities are identified, a plan should be developed to ensure full and accurate reporting to NICS going forward to the extent required under current law.
- Conduct a review of the format, structure, and wording of ATF Form 4473 and recommend changes as necessary.
- Prepare a report that addresses: (a) the number of current open investigations for making a false statement on ATF Form 4473; (b) the number of investigations for making a false statement on ATF Form 4473 for the past five years; (c) the prosecution referral and declination numbers for the current year, as well as the past five years for making a false statement on ATF Form 4473; and (d) the priority level assigned to investigations for making a false statement on ATF Form 4473.
- Identify any additional measures that should be taken to prevent firearms from being obtained by prohibited persons, including identifying obstacles to state, local, and tribal entities sharing information with NICS.
“The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is critical for us to be able to keep guns out of the hands of those that are prohibited from owning them,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “The recent shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas revealed that relevant information may not be getting reported to the NICS – this is alarming and it is unacceptable. Therefore, I am directing the FBI and ATF to do a comprehensive review of the NICS and report back to me the steps we can take to ensure that those who are prohibited from purchasing firearms are prevented from doing so.”