Testimony by acting FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday revealed that the Obama administration removed the names of over 500,000 individuals with active arrest warrants from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, according to The Daily Wire.
The deletion of the names was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who had originally pinned the change on the Trump administration.
“A little-noticed mandate from the Trump administration has cleared the way for some people with outstanding arrest warrants to purchase guns, a change that worries law enforcement officials who say it could be allowing dangerous criminals to arm themselves,” The Journal-Constitution reported last October.
“Six months after the U.S. Department of Justice issued a memo redefining who is a fugitive from justice — and cannot have a gun — more than a half a million names have been dropped from a national law enforcement data base used to determine who may purchase a firearms and or obtain a carry permit, according to FBI records provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”
The title of the article was equally unsubtle: “Trump Administration change allows some facing arrest to buy guns.” Needless to say, Senate Democrats were interesting in asking Deputy Director Bowdich why the Trump administration would make such a move.
“It’s my understanding that under federal law fugitives cannot legally purchase or possess guns,” California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Democrats’ all-star gun-grabber in the upper chamber, queried Bowdich.
“We’ve heard from local law enforcement that the Justice Department has issued a memo that forced the FBI NICS background check database to drop more than 500,000 names of fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants because it was uncertain whether those fugitives had fled across state lines.”
“Mr. Bowdich, can you describe why this determination was made by the Justice Department?” she asked.
Sen. Feinstein thought she’d scored a “gotcha” moment. And lo and behold, she had. Just not quite in the way she had imagined.
“That was a decision that was made under the previous administration,” Bowdich replied.
“It was the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel that reviewed the law and believed that it needed to be interpreted so that if someone was a fugitive in a state, there had to be indications that they had crossed state lines.”
Oh. Well, then
Now, let’s be clear here. The Obama administration is no longer in charge and this was a pretty awful decision. The legal and technical machinations of how — or whether — this purge can be reversed probably ought to be a priority over at the Department of Justice right now.
However, the Obama administration’s involvement here is a pretty big deal, particularly given the impact of the change. “Although the revision has only been in effect for six months, there has already been a noticeable dip in the number of gun sales denied because the potential buyer was a ‘fugitive from justice,’” the Journal-Constitution reported last October.
“According to NICS data, there was an 80 percent decline, compared to the same period in 2016.”
If what Mr. Bowdich is saying is correct, the Obama administration’s Justice Department made it exponentially easier for fugitives to purchase weapons, essentially sabotaging the same background check system they now put forward as the savior of our mass shooting woes.
Ironically, The Journal-Constitution — the very outlet that broke the story last October, when the purge was blamed on the Trump administration — completely failed to mention any of this in their piece on Bowdich’s Wednesday testimony. Instead, they focused on the fact that Bowdich “acknowledged to Congress that serious mistakes were made in not acting on tips about the gunman who killed 17 people at a Florida high school a month ago.”
That’s completely accurate. But the buried story here — the fact that the Obama administration apparently made it significantly easier for fugitives to obtain firearms — remained totally unmentioned. Quelle surprise.
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