TITLE

Gun Control and Terrorism: FBI Could Better Manage Firearm-Related Background Checks Involving Terrorist Watch List Records: GAO-05-127

AUTHOR(S)
Ekstrand, Laurie E.
PUB. DATE
January 2005
SOURCE
GAO Reports;1/19/2005, p1
SOURCE TYPE
Government Document
DOC. TYPE
Report
ABSTRACT
Membership in a terrorist organization does not prohibit a person from owning a gun under current law. Thus, during presale screening of prospective firearms purchasers, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System historically did not utilize terrorist watch list records. However, for homeland security and other purposes, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and applicable state agencies began receiving notices (effective February 3, 2004) when such screening involved watch lists records. GAO determined (1) how many checks have resulted in valid matches with terrorist watch list records, (2) procedures for providing federal counterterrorism officials relevant information from valid-match background checks, and (3) the extent to which the FBI monitors or audits the states' handling of such checks. During the period GAO reviewed--February 3 through June 30, 2004--a total of 44 firearm-related background checks handled by the FBI and applicable state agencies resulted in valid matches with terrorist watch list records. Of this total, 35 transactions were allowed to proceed because the background checks found no prohibiting information, such as felony convictions, illegal immigrant status, or other disqualifying factors. Federal and state procedures--developed and disseminated under the Department of Justice's direction--do not address the specific types of information from valid-match background checks that can or should be provided to federal counterterrorism officials or the sources from which such information can be obtained. Justice officials told GAO that information from the background check system is not to be used for general law enforcement purposes but can be shared with law enforcement agents or other government agencies in the legitimate pursuit of establishing a match between the prospective gun buyer and a terrorist watch list record and in the search for information that could prohibit the firearm transfer. Most state agency personnel GAO contacted were not aware of any restrictions or limitations on providing valid-match information to counterterrorism officials. FBI counterterrorism officials told GAO that routinely receiving all available personal identifying information and other details from valid-match background checks could be useful in conducting investigations. As part of routine audits the FBI conducts every 3 years, the Bureau plans to assess the states' handling of firearm-related background checks involving terrorist watch list records. However, given that these background checks involve known or suspected terrorists who could pose homeland security risks, more frequent FBI oversight or centralized management would help ensure that suspected terrorists who have disqualifying factors do not obtain firearms in violation of the law. The Attorney General and the FBI ultimately are responsible for managing the background check system, although they have yet to assess the states' compliance with applicable procedures for handling terrorism-related checks. Also, more frequent FBI oversight or centralized management would help address other types of issues GAO identified--such as several states' delays in implementing procedures and one state's mishandling of a terrorism-related background check.
ACCESSION #
18174579

 

Related Articles

  • Firearm and Explosives Background Checks Involving Terrorist Watch List Records. Larence, Eileen R. // GAO Reports;6/22/2009, p1 

    The article presents a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) submitted to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security based on its review of the firearm and explosives background checks involving terrorist watch list records. It states that the U.S. Federal...

  • FBI Transformation: Data Inconclusive on Effects of Shift to Counterterrorism-Related Priorities on Traditional Crime Enforcement: GAO-04-1036. Ekstrand, Laurie // GAO Reports;8/31/2004, p1 

    As a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has committed to a transformation to increase its focus on national security. The FBI has shifted agent resources to its top priorities of counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber crime....

  • Information Technology: Foundational Steps Being Taken to Make Needed FBI Systems Modernization Management Improvements: GAO-04-842. Hite, Randolph C. // GAO Reports;9/10/2004, p1 

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investing more than a billion dollars over 3 years to modernize its information technology (IT) systems. The modernization is central to the bureau's ongoing efforts to transform the organization. GAO was asked to determine whether the FBI has (1) an...

  • TERRORIST WATCH LIST SCREENING: Opportunities Exist Enhance Management Oversight, Reduce Vulnerabilites in Agency Screening Processes, and Expand Use of the List.  // GAO Reports;10/24/2007, preceding pi 

    The article discusses the result of the investigation conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess the terrorist watch list formulated by the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Based on the analysis, GAO stresses the...

  • Playing with Trucks; Playing for Keeps. Zalud, Bill // Security: Solutions for Enterprise Security Leaders;Apr2007, Vol. 44 Issue 4, p12 

    The article reports on the plan of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to install radiation detection devices in major cities in the U.S. The DHS action was influenced by the security problems in the country revealed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Government...

  • TERRORIST WATCH LIST SCREENING: Recommendations to Promote a Comprehensive and Coordinated Approach to Terrorist-Related Screening. Larence, Eileen R. // GAO Reports;11/ 8/2007, preceding p1 

    The article presents recommendations to promote comprehensive and coordinated approach to terrorist-related screening by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Terrorist Screening Center in the U.S. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) suggested that the FBI needs actions to monitor...

  • Countering Violent Islamic Extremism: A Community Responsibility. Dyer, Carol; McCoy, Ryan E.; Rodriguez, Joel; Van Duyn, Donald N. // FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin;Dec2007, Vol. 76 Issue 12, p3 

    The article reports on the response of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in countering violent Islamic extremism in the U.S. The use of religion by Islamic extremists to use violence overseas and at home is one of the gravest dangers facing the U.S. The FBI defines violent extremists as...

  • A CHAT WITH THE MAN TO SEE. Duffy, Brian; Ragavan, Chitra // U.S. News & World Report;3/28/2005, Vol. 138 Issue 11, p22 

    Presents an interview with FBI Director Robert Mueller. His efforts to transform the bureau into a proactive organization that can identify terrorists and stop them before they strike; Challenge to overcoming resistance from FBI agents who want the bureau to remain a traditional crime-fighting...

  • Name Check. Howley, Kerry // Reason;Oct2007, Vol. 39 Issue 5, p10 

    The article reports on the name checking of immigration applicants by immigration officials which was required by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to avoid terrorism. It says that though security checks take only minutes, these checks can take weeks or years, as the agency manually...

Share

Read the Article

Other Topics