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Oh golly, this ought to come off without a hitch:

Federal authorities sought to take back guns from thousands of people the background check system should have blocked from buying weapons because they had criminal records, mental health issues or other problems that would disqualify them.

A USA TODAY review found that the FBI issued more than 4,000 requests last year for agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives to retrieve guns from prohibited buyers.

You know, like the guy who shot up that church in Texas, killing 26 people, and whose 2014 conviction on domestic abuse charges should have been reported to the FBI by the Air Force, but oops, wasn’t. The 4,000 “retrieval requests” is the highest in a decade, and don’t we all feel great that 4,000 people who federal law already says shouldn’t have guns got them anyway? President Trump is expected to tweet early in the morning that there’s no reason to worry, since they’re all in Chicago, according to a voice he thinks came from the radio.

The backlog of “retrievals” — we bet gun humpers will be perfectly fine with that, really! — stems from the requirement that the FBI complete background checks using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) within 72 hours. If the “instant” checks can’t be completed within that period, the gun sale goes forward, and then later, if the FBI determines the sale should have been blocked, ATF agents will be sent out to take the things back.

Yes, that’s how the system is designed. Not only does this mean that people who shouldn’t have guns actually have guns, it also means the ATF has to go and take guns away from people who were determined too risky to sell guns to, unless the FBI gets a bit backed up doing background checks, in which case, fine, have your gun. And yes, those sorts of slowdowns happen right around the holidays, like this year, when Black Friday shoppers bought a record number of new guns, requiring a record number of background checks.

“These are people who shouldn’t have weapons in the first place, and it just takes one to do something that could have tragic consequences,” said David Chipman, a former ATF official who helped oversee the firearm retrieval program. “You don’t want ATF to stand for ‘after the fact.'”

We believe the informal term for this situation might as well be called the G. Gordon Liddy “Head Shots, People! Head Shots!” Act.

USA Today duly notes that it’s not clear how many firearms ATF collected last year. So far there don’t appear to be any cases of an ATF agent walking into an ambush, so hooray for the calm behavior of America’s unfit gun owners. So far.

Following the Texas church massacre, Attorney General Jeff Sessions (vomit) ordered a review of the entire background check system to make it less likely that people like the shooter will slip through the cracks in the future. Good on Jeff Sessions for doing something smart — and yes, we’ll admit there’s probably a Nixon-to-China aspect to Sessions ordering that review. Can you imagine the howls of anguish — and calls for armed insurrection — from gunhumpers if Eric Holder had called for tightening up the background check system?

Of course, once a gun that shouldn’t have been sold gets into the hands of someone it shouldn’t have been sold to, the prospects of the ATF “retrieving” it are iffy. The agency didn’t want to tell USA Today how many of last year’s retrieval requests were successful, and what’s more, the FBI said ATF was not required to report the percentage of successfully processed requests, either.

[In] 2004, the Justice Department’s inspector general found that the ATF’s retrieval efforts were plagued by staffing shortages, technological inefficiencies and a general lack of urgency that resulted in recovery delays of up to a year.

“ATF agents did not consider most of the prohibited persons who had obtained guns to be dangerous and therefore did not consider it a priority to retrieve the firearm promptly,” [the] report concluded.

Oh, but things might be better now: Another inspector general’s report, from last year, found that in a sample of 125 retrieval requests between 2008 and 2014, agents recovered 116 weapons, a success rate of 93 percent. So… success? Or a really lucky sample? Gosh, we hate to seem cynical.

In any case, don’t expect the system to change; we’re frankly rather astonished the NRA hasn’t already released a video of Dana Loesch suggesting it’s time for someone to be shot.

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[USA Today]

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