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Firearms-related crime linked to inadequate background reporting

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, of the 4,462 firearms recovered in Mississippi last year, many were used in the commission of a crime. ATF statistics show that 2,187 of those firearms are under investigation and that over 70 percent of the remaining 1,275 firearms were seized from illegal possessors.

A recent case involving the Air Force's failure to report the criminal history of a man who murdered 26 people at a Texas church prompted the Attorney General to order a review of the FBI background check system for prospective gun buyers. According to FBI statistics, background checks on Mississippi's prospective gun buyers have experienced a decline of 43 percent in the last five years.

One case involved a Gulfport man robbing Dollar Stores at gunpoint. As a felon, he was not legally allowed to own. Licensed federal firearms dealers are obligated to deny selling guns to those with felony convictions. However, the agencies that arrested the man on drug charges failed to report his criminal conviction to the FBI, therefore he did not appear on the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

According to the ATF, 156 weapons that were newly purchased had been used to commit a crime within three months or less from the date of their purchase. The type of firearm that was most commonly recovered in Mississippi were pistols, accounting for 2,589 of the total 4,462 recovered firearms.

A study executed by the Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health showed that, in approximately eight out of ten gun crimes, the perpetrator is someone in unlawful possession of the gun. The Gulfport FBI field office stated that the ATF agents will continue to aggressively pursue illegal firearms and the people in possession of them. Those found in illegal possession of firearms in Mississippi face stiff penalties and should seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: Sun Herald, "Over 4,000 guns were recovered in Mississippi last year. Half were used in crimes.," Robin Fitzgerald, Dec. 3, 2017

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