On the shelves of most Houston gun stores is enough armament to outfit at least a small police force. All that stands between the cache of weapons and criminals are the alarms, security cameras, employees who tend to wear sidearms and a flimsy .005-millimeter-thick government document: ATF 447, reports the Houston Chronicle. The form is a request for a computerized government background check to make sure there is nothing in your past, like certain criminal convictions, that would prohibit you from buying or owning a gun.
The check can come back in as few as 30 seconds, but lying could get you up to 10 years in federal prison. As the number of people requesting background checks to buy firearms is at an all-time high, the number of people charged with lying on the form about themselves to buy guns has dropped significantly over the past dozen years. Federal prosecutors nationwide, between 2004 and 2015, charged an average of 32 people per year with knowing they were forbidden from owning a gun but still trying to sneak past a background check, says a new Justice Department Office of Inspector General report. That compares with 166 people charged in 2003 when the drop began.