Federal authorities have been seizing guns at a record pace in recent years as a result of people failing their background checks, according to the latest data.
Over 6,300 gun retrievals were made by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2020 after the FBI flagged buyers for reasons related to their criminal records, mental health histories, disqualifying military service records or other bans, according to data obtained by USA Today.
Another 5,200 retrievals were ordered for the same reasons in 2021 — making it the largest two-year total in failed background checks since the National Instant Criminal Background Check System began operating in 1998.
The seizures came during two red-hot years for gun sales that overlapped with the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide social unrest that manifested in protests and riots.
The 23 million guns purchased in 2020 was the most for a year so far this century, according to research firm Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting. That was followed by the nearly 20 million purchased a year later, the second-most firearms purchased in a year since 2000.
“Historically, the NICS Section has experienced an increase in firearm retrieval referrals as increases in overall background check volume occurs,” the FBI said in response to questions from USA Today.
More than 5 million became gun owners for the first time in 2020, according to The Guardian. Half of all new gun owners were female, and half of the new owners were also people of color.
• Matt Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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