As gun sales surge during the coronavirus pandemic, the Justice Department is asking Congress for more enforcement resources — including to confiscate guns from people who shouldn’t legally be able to own them.
In recent outreach to Capitol Hill, DOJ made two requests related to the spike in gun purchases, according to two sources with knowledge of those asks. First, the department asked for funding to help the FBI hire more staff to keep up with the growing number of background checks and appeal requests going through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The bureau runs that system, which handles background checks on millions of gun buyers every year.
“The top priorities for the Department of Justice are to protect the safety and security of the American people and to ensure that Americans are not deprived of their constitutional rights,” said Stephen Boyd, head of the department’s Office of Legislative Affairs, in a statement. “Increased funding for NICS and ATF at this time is important to achieving those goals.”
The department also asked for more resources and personnel for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to deal with firearm retrievals and other field work related to delayed denials, according to the two sources. The term “delayed denials” refers to situations in which people buy weapons and take them home before the NICS system can flag those buyers as ineligible to own guns.