Post by: Chief News Editor | Published: September 29, 2016 , 12:12 am | Category: WORLD
Washington, U.S.A.-More than 2,000 disputed gun purchases were allowed to proceed during the past 15 years because of a long-standing disagreement between the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives over who qualifies as a “fugitive,’’ an internal Justice Department review concluded Wednesday.
Fugitives are among those disqualified from purchasing firearms, according to federal law that governs gun transactions at federally licensed gun stores. Yet in an audit of firearm purchase denials, the Justice Department inspector general found that the FBI believed that 2,183 gun transactions between 1999 and 2015 should have been denied because the buyers were fugitives prohibited from making the purchase, though the ATF “did not agree and did not attempt to recover the firearms.’’
The dispute between the two agencies, according to the inspector general report, has gone unresolved for at least eight years and centers on an interpretation by the ATF that a prospective buyer should not be considered a fugitive from justice if they are attempting to purchase in states where the warrants have been issued.
“ATF considers only an attempted purchase in a state other than that issuing the warrant to properly implicate the (gun) applicant as a fugitive for … disqualification purposes,” the review found. The FBI, however, routinely denies attempted transactions when purchase applications are made in the same states where the warrants are issued.
The agencies first sought a resolution to the dispute in 2008 by asking the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which provided “informal advice,” the inspector general review found. The FBI requested a “formal reconsideration” in 2010, “but more than six years later no decision has been rendered so the dispute continues.”
In July, according to the inspector general, a deputy assistant attorney general said reconsideration of the matter was “still in process.”
“We recommend that the OLC issue an opinion as soon as possible to clarify the correct definition of the ‘fugitive from justice’ category of the persons prohibited from purchasing a firearm,” the review concluded, referring to the counsel’s office. “Only then can ATF and the FBI be certain the law is being applied appropriately and as intended.”
Earlier this week, Justice issued a written response to the inspector general’s finding, saying that it agreed with the review’s recommendation.
“We anticipate completing our review of the FBI’s request within the next few months,” wrote Karl Thompson, principal deputy assistant attorney general
NEWS COLLECTED FROM USA TODAY.