Blind Spot in Gun Background Checks: Legal Buyers Who Turn Illegal


Tens of thousands of gun owners bought weapons legally but under the law should no longer have them because of subsequent mental health or criminal issues. It’s another major blind spot in the federal background check system that is supposed to deny guns to prohibited buyers, says the New York Times. Policing these prohibitions is difficult in most states. Authorities usually must stumble upon the weapon in a traffic stop or some other encounter, and run the person's name through various record checks.

California is unique, gun control advocates say, because of its computerized database, the Armed Prohibited Persons System. It was aimed at enabling law enforcement officials to handle the issue pre-emptively, actively identifying people who legally bought handguns, or registered assault weapons, but are now prohibited from having them. The list had 18,374 names on it as of the beginning of this month — 15 to 20 are added a day — swamping law enforcement's ability to keep up.

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