Thousands of people ineligible to buy firearms purchased them anyway, and few have been prosecuted by the Justice Department, says the Washington Post. Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine identified more than 7,000 cases in 2002 and 2003 in which a person barred from buying a gun under federal restrictions was able to do so. The report found that fewer than 1 percent of the 120,000 people who unlawfully tried to buy guns in those years were prosecuted. The report found that delays in tracking down unlawful purchasers to retrieve the guns “increase the risk that prohibited persons may use the illegally obtained firearm to harm others or otherwise commit a crime.”
Last week, Fine’s office saidt the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is so far behind on inspections of federally licensed gun dealers that, at the current pace, it would take 22 years to visit them all. The ATF, which was transferred in 2003 from the Treasury Department to Justice, has been the focus of criticism from gun-control advocates who argue that the agency is lax in its oversight of federal gun regulations. ATF Director Carl Truscott said “there is a need to increase resources dedicated to firearms investigations” and that many of the inspector general’s points would be addressed in ATF’s 2006 budget request.