- The Washington Times - Monday, July 2, 2001

Attorney General John Ashcroft yesterday said that more than 150,000 of the nearly 7.7 million firearms or permits sought nationwide last year were rejected under the provisions of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.
The survey, conducted by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), found that about 689,000 of almost 30 million applications for firearms were rejected by the FBI since the implementation of the act in 1994.
"Today's report shows that while the Brady law has helped us stop convicted felons and other dangerous individuals from buying guns easily, violations of the law are not being prosecuted adequately," Mr. Ashcroft said. "We have now initiated a plan to improve the process of background checks, a plan which will increase prosecutions of those who attempt to purchase guns illegally and improve the accuracy, efficiency and reliability of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System."
"We want to send the message that 'gun crime means hard time.' The Justice Department and each United States Attorney is committed to reducing gun crime by vigorously enforcing our laws," he said.
Justice Department spokeswoman Katie Biber said the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act mandates criminal history checks for applicants for long guns and handgun transfers or permits.
Background checks at the time of a firearms purchase are handled by agencies in 16 states.
For the remaining states, firearms dealers contact the FBI directly to conduct the background check.
Since the inception of the act on March 1, 1994, through Dec. 31, 2000, she said, about 689,000 of almost 30 million applications were rejected by the FBI or state and local agencies.
State and local agencies conducted 3.5 million checks last year and rejected 2.5 percent of the applications.
The FBI processed 4.3 million applications and rejected 1.6 percent.
The additional requirement that background checks be conducted for long gun purchases beginning on Nov. 30, 1998, had the effect of nearly tripling the number of checks conducted.
In 1997, just over 2.5 million checks were performed. In 1999, 8.6 million checks were conducted and in 2000, nearly 7.7 million checks were carried out, 11 percent fewerthan in 1999.
Almost all of the 19 states listed in the survey as giving complete statewide data for applications and rejections in 2000 had declines last year. The largest were in California and Indiana, by about 25 percent.
Ms. Biber said that 58 percent of the 86,000 applicants rejected by state and local authorities in 2000 had felony convictions or indictments, down from 73 percent in 1999.
Among the other reasons state and local authorities turned down applications during 2000 were: 9 percent for domestic violence misdemeanor convictions; 3 percent for domestic violence restraining orders; state law prohibitions, 5 percent; fugitive status, 4 percent; and mental illness or mental disability, 1 percent.
The Federal Gun Control Act prohibits the transfer of a firearm to a person who is under indictment for or has been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year; is a fugitive from justice; is an unlawful user or is addicted to any controlled substance; or has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution.
It also bans the transfer of a firearm to an illegal alien or someone admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa; to anyone who was discharged from the U.S. military under dishonorable conditions or has renounced his or her U.S. citizenship; is subject to a court order restraining him or her from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner or child; or has been convicted in any court of felony or misdemeanor domestic violence.
In addition, Ms. Biber said, the statute makes it unlawful for any licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer or collector to transfer a long gun to a person younger than 18 years old or any other type of firearm to a person younger than 21 years old.

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