CNN NEWS FLASH: Criminals Who Lie On 4473 Forms Act Criminally

form 4473


Yeah…this is not a joke, but it could be. Way to go, CNN. That’s some ace reporting you’ve done there. Again.

Last year, thousands of people trying to buy guns from dealers made false statements about their past on the required federal form, then went on to fail the background check due to a serious criminal record or other disqualifier. Lying to a licensed gun dealer is a felony punishable by a fine or up to 10 years in prison.

Breaking that law might seem risky. But in September, a Government Accountability Office study made it clear why those who “lie and try” would take their chances.

If the [2006] study’s findings hold up, it suggests that anywhere from 1,322 to 2,631 of the 12,710 people who attempted to buy a gun in fiscal year 2017, failed a background check, and had their cases sent to ATF field offices, would eventually get a gun and commit a crime. Two criminal policy academics who reviewed the ATF paper at CNN’s request said they were confident in the research paper’s methodology and conclusions, and they think the rate of subsequent gun crimes by attempted purchasers would likely be the same or higher today.

– Jose Pagliery for CNN, Gun Form Liars May Go On to Commit Crimes


  1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    Depending on NICS to stop criminals from getting guns is like bailing out a sinking boat with a sieve.

    1. avatar Mad Max says:

      Pretty much, Gov.

      Even if they had apprehended the 2,631 liars and prosecuted them quickly, the effect on violent crime would have been nil.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        Also, how many prohibited people passed the NICS because of lax reporting by the states? How many straw purchasers passed NICS checks and passed the firearms off to criminals? How many prohibited people knew they couldn’t pass a NICS check and acquired firearms by other illegal means? Even if you could prevent every single sale from legitimate businesses there’s no way to keep 400 million guns 100% secure or prevent illegal guns from flooding across our porous border. The authorities are pissing into the wind.

        1. avatar Ardent says:

          You made me think Gov. How is gun control in the US supposed to work when 1000s of tons of drugs and millions of people can cross our borders unobserved? It seems to me that any support if serious gun control in the US would first require securing the border.

          I saw, here at TTAG recently that the concept of massive social welfare systems such as guaranteed income, healthcare and education are unobtainable without first securing our borders. I suppose we can add gun control to the list.
          Then again, I’m not sure at this point there is any value left in pointing out that the left’s ideas are internally inconsistent, or even when they are bad, dumb, crazy, expensive, unrealistic or whatever other pejoratives one might add…since everyone already knows this, and about half just don’t care.

        2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          They have no problem packing 70# bags of pot across the desert, that’s 20 handguns (in cases w/ extra magazines). Not to mention a 3000 mile border to our north that’s mostly frontier and what, 4000-5000 miles of coastline? And 3.8 million square miles of territory to monitor and hundreds of thousands of shipping containers floating into the country every day. We can’t stop drugs, we can’t even stop humans from being smuggled across our border, how do they think they can stop guns?

      2. avatar Whoda Thunkit says:

        Did you actually comprehend what was written?

        “… 2,631 of the 12,710 people who attempted to buy a gun in fiscal year 2017, failed a background check, and had their cases sent to ATF field offices, would eventually get a gun and commit a crime.”

        So, the effect on violent crime would have been 2,631 LESS crimes. And I suspect that if you were one of those 2,361 victims, the impact would have seemed huge……

        1. avatar MyName says:

          It actually *guesses* that between 1322 and 2361 of the denials in 2017 *might* have gotten a gun and gone on to commit a crime. Even if they hadn’t gotten the particular gun that they were denied at that time there is no reason to believe that they could not still have gotten a gun in some other fashion or gone on to commit a crime without a gun. Even then, let’s say that the 2361 is accurate – so what? That represents about 1.5% of the crimes with guns committed in 2017. Not to mention that not all of those “gun crimes” are necessarily violent crimes – if a person has a gun unsecured in their car in the wrong jurisdiction, and police find it, they will go into the list of those who have committed a “gun crime”. So, all those millions of NICS checks and the time effort and money spent on them might, if handled just right by the ATF and the FBI, maybe could have prevented some unknown portion of some sub-set of some crimes by some quantity that is probably less than 1.5%

        2. avatar MyName says:

          Aargh, edit button please, *2631*

        3. avatar Anymouse says:

          Regardless of the magnitude, follow ups seems important. 90% are probably misunderstandings, like pleaing to felony years ago but not serving time, etc. Many are probably bad guys with multiple convictions, and maybe on parole. Those are the ones we need to throw the book at. I keep hearing how a small percentage of thugs do most of the crime. This is a reason to get the known actors off the street.

  2. avatar The Realist says:

    CNN is always amazing with their investigative prowess. Wonder if they investigated how many who lie on form were subsequently prosecuted. I guess that is the next phase of their investigation.

    1. avatar Draven says:

      sure, but they conveniently will not report that part.

      1. avatar Omer says:

        They may, but they’ll probably blame the current administration for being lax on crime, while ignoring that their anointed one was just as complicit in ignoring his duty to uphold the law.

      2. avatar Bill in Oregon says:

        Because it would show the lie that NICS always stops someone from attempting to purchase. Wonder how many drivers licenses were held back because the police wanted to arrest someone. Zip

    2. avatar Quasimofo says:

      I suspect that when a LGS calls in a 4473 denial to the ATF, the store is probably directed to call the local PD instead. And then local PD probably tells them to contact the ATF…

      1. avatar Bob says:

        Uh no, you get a denial you don’t sell the gun and that’s about it. ATF only follows up when the denial comes in after the transfer.

        1. avatar Quasimofo says:

          Ah, ok.

      2. avatar b725 says:

        In Virginia the NICS is done by the State Police. If there is a denial, they will follow up and will prosecute if the person lied and was disqualified (felon/domestic assault etc.}

  3. avatar possum says:

    What’s a 4473?

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      It was a 1986 Van Halen album. The first one with Sammy Hagar.

    2. avatar SouthAl says:

      Pretty sure it is a S&W pistol model.

    3. avatar possum says:

      To bad the days of vinyl and a free S&W handgun for every van Halen 4473 purchase are gone. Might as well jump, just go ahead and jump.

      1. avatar MyName says:

        I hear the rules are different in Panama. I’ve also heard that Jamie’s Cryin’ because of an Eruption of Blood and Fire in Chinatown. What does this have to do with the ATF? You’ve Really Got Me there.

  4. avatar No one of consequence says:

    … And 80-90% of those denied, were presumably unjustly denied a civil right. Let’s not forget about that part, shall we?

    False positives are a problem in any test, but when they outweigh the real positives by an order of magnitude, the test is seriously broken.

    1. avatar Michael Stilinovich says:

      I’m one of the 80-90 and it’s down right criminal how I was treated. Even consulted with a lawyer who thought I should just wait the extra 30 day hold, laws in Ca .suck, I know you don’t have to pipe in and tell me to move etc.,etc. easier said than done. I even followed all the professionals advice, spent hundreds of dollars and finally applied and received residency from another state. The main problem is that I have the documentation of a petty misdemeanor, disorderly conduct or being a drunk young adult, I committed in 1982 as the only possible cause. Still the commies to be , er I mean the authorities have not cleared me on my firearm purchases. It’s really sad….

      Merry Christmas everyone and hope you all have a blessed New Year.

    2. avatar Ardent says:

      I’m one of those. For years there was something in the system that would delay my NICS. It alway wnt through within an hour and I always got my gun. I looked into it and discovered that Ohio BCI had a number attached to my name/identity which indicated OBCI had a record for me. When you went to the record specified by the number, it indicated there was no record for than number…WTF does that mean? Well, in this case it meant someone at OBCI put a record on the wrong person, then in removing it didn’t follow the proper procedure, resulting in a “hit” every time it was queried, requiring a human to intervene and see there was nothing listed under that record.
      Luckily I had friends who could push back on OBCI to fix their mistake, and eventually they did, after a couple of years. If didn’t happen to have the right friends, I’m sure it would still be there, still being a pain for me.
      The NICS system isn’t only flawed, it’s nearly useless at preventing crime, but always presenting the possibility of causing civil rights issues for everyone. Expanding it is a terrible idea…which wont prevent any crime, but will cause issues for the law abiding.

      To paraphrase Blackstone: better that 10 felons get guns than one innocent citizen be denied their civil rights. If you don’t believe this, you believe something antithetical to the letter and spirit of the BoR, and we are in strong disagreement. Prior restraint on any right is wrong. Doesn’t matter if it is speech or religion or guns, it’s just dead wrong. Even if it savesd lives it would be wrong, and it doesnt save lives. It’s a dangerous precedent, it’s contrary to the BoR and it’s a leap down the slippery slope of prior restraint.

      Dont believe me? Imagine you want to join a new church, would it be ok to process you through a secret data base you have no control over to decide if you’re upstanding and sane enough to handle a new religion?
      How about a check to make sure your sane and not an addict and haven’t been misusing speech before you can blog or write a letter to the editor about a new topic?
      Core, enumerated rights should not be subject to prior restraint, even if such made the world safer. Since NICS checks do virtually nothing to make anyone safer, how could anyone possibly argue that this prior restraint of a natural right is ok, let alone should be expanded.

      It’s one thing to argue with mindless antis about these things, but when the PoTG start saying ignorant things like more background checks are great, or, earlier tonight, that credit card companies reporting gun sales to the government is a great idea, all I can think is that with friends like these we need no enemies.

      Are we so beaten that we no longer recognize the difference between liberty and oppression? Are we so blind that we still don’t recognize that trading freedom for security never works? I get so disillusioned sometimes that the words of Samual Adams ring in my ears, and, to some of you, all I can say is that we seek not your counsel, you can go from us in peace, and may your chains rest lightly upon you.

      You can give a man freedom, but you can’t make him keep it.

      1. avatar MyName says:

        I discovered that I have a “record” with local law enforcement stemming from an incident in which I was a *witness* to a crime. Didn’t come up in a 4473 bkgd. check but it was brought to my attention when I was called for jury duty. I’m pretty sure everyone is on a “list”.

    3. avatar frank speak says:

      need to focus on the false positives…some times people do this unwittingly or the information is flawed…need to buy a gun every once in a while to see if anythings changed

  5. avatar GeorgiaBob says:

    Our brilliant Congress, and several state governments have “discovered” the solution to the many convictions for the drug crime of Pot possession is to decriminalize Maryjane. It would therefore make perfect sense to end “gun” possession crimes by decriminalizing firearms.

    I don’t do Pot, so that effort does not impact me. I do a lot of gun, so decriminalization would make it much easier to buy new stuff.

    Dopers are gonna’ get pot – legal or not. Felons and wanna be felons are gonna get guns – legal or not.

    1. avatar Sneaky White 13 says:

      BAN ALL CRIMINALS to Attu and let them enjoy island living…..plenty of sea food and rats to eat. Should make for some easy criminal living.

  6. avatar Imayeti says:

    4473 = 18. What do I win?

    1. avatar MyName says:

      18 makes you a super-owner.

  7. avatar Big Bill says:

    If we accept the excuse that ‘we can’t afford to even investigate, let alone prosecute’ this type of crime, then we should take it off the books. It’s useless.

    1. avatar Ardent says:

      I’m fairly sure that a law is unconstitutional if it cannot be consistantly enforced. I don’t recall the legal principle I’m thinking of (help if you can) but it was something to do with capricious and arbitrary laws…
      Surely, if anything meets the standard, NICS is it.

  8. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    Let me see…

    * Lots of false positives – check.

    * Dangerous false negatives – check.

    * Legit positives not effective; lots go on to get n use crime guns anyway – check.

    * Creates cost, effort n privacy burdens on non criminals – check.

    * Creates same burdens on “reporting” orgs – check.

    * No evidence of actual crime or violence reduction – check.

    It’s the perfect law.

  9. avatar Pete says:

    1,322 to 2,631 of the 12,710 people who attempted to buy a gun in fiscal year 2017, failed a background check,
    Am I reading this right, 12,710 gun purchases in 2017 and a ~10% denial rate.
    Did they lose a decimal place or something?

    1. avatar No one of consequence says:

      No … Roughly 12k sales were blocked, as I read it, of which 10-20% were actually blocking prohibited persons. The rest of the blocked sales were an unjust denial of civil rights.

      1. avatar Bierce Ambrose says:

        They love it when a plan comes together.

  10. avatar RGP says:

    They must have had to pay off some anonymous source in a back alley for this scoop.

  11. avatar Felixd says:

    First, this is not research, but rather an ATF internal document that makes these claims. Next, just who are these brilliant academic minds that can defend the methodology and conclusions. CNN never says. There is no link to the document. Who has read it and where and to whom has it been presented? Given the propaganda value of the subject it is easy to imagine that the internal document was meant for bureaucratic consumption and CNN was to distribute a leftist version to the masses.

  12. avatar GS650G says:

    I understand from CNN Trump has Russian friends. Blew my mind totally.

  13. avatar Jean-Claude says:

    I saw a kid at a gun show get turned down for a purchase after he filled out the 4473. Why?

    The genius was trying to purchase a handgun while wearing a shirt covered in a pot leaf print.

    I saw a Puerto Rican grandmother get turned down for a purchase of a Ruger Precision Rifle because the salesman determined she was taking part in a straw purchase. Guess it seemed odd that an 80 year old lady was buying herself a sniper rifle and just happened to accompanied by her son and grandson, both of whom REEKED of the criminal justice system.

    I think the current system works just fine. Except for the question about marijuana. Hundreds of thousands of people lie on that form every year. Marijuana is too popular for me to believe that nobody who buys a gun is also smoking weed.

    1. avatar Jon in CO says:

      Shouldn’t be stopped from buying one just because of weed. That kid wearing a shirt, exercising his free speech. Seems they violated his first, second, and 14th, because other than wearing a shirt, did nothing wrong.

      1. avatar possum says:

        Marijuana is illegal because cocaine made the negras rape white wemon.

      2. avatar Bob says:

        Sorry pal, as an FFL we have the final word and as long as I suspect you smoke weed and it’s still against federal law, you are not getting the firearm. When you shell out for the licensee and risk the jail time then you can have that choice.

        1. avatar Jim Bullock says:


          – The Bill of Rights in the US Constitution restricts what government can do, not people.

          – Other national constitutions and charters tend more toward: “Here’s the goals: anything goes to get there.” The EU & the former Soviet Union “constitutions” come to mind.

          – The Feds — and every other level of government and “collaboration” — loves to find work-arounds. Famously re-established in the Carter administration: “Do what we prefer on speed limits, or you won’t get any Federal highway money (already taken out of your state in taxes.)” After The Supremes ruled that that wasn’t “coercion”, that’s standard practice. Title IX “enforcement” in education, for example, isn’t as much “We’ll sue you.” as “We’ll stop the subsidy flow.”, though they do the sue and prosecute thing, too.

          – What we’ll mutually tolerate as citizens is one of the running arguments. Blind allegiance to Dear Leader or you’e out? Hijacking the mechanisms of mutual protection — police — into to impose our preferences on those Deplorables? You can believe anything you want as long as you keep it quiet and live according to the Grand Doctrine? How heinous can you be and we’ll still tolerate you within the body politic?

  14. avatar BluesMike says:

    I like all the weasel words. “suggests” ,”may”, “if xx holds up”, “they think” etc…
    They give a range that is anywhere from 10.4 percent to 20.7 percent. That difference could likely take it outside the standard deviation but we would never know, not having the data. Also, that sentence structure allows for a lot of wiggle room. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. What about the other 10,079 cases. How many were false positives? How many were people in situations like Carol Bowne. How many died as a result of being rejected falsely? So if the CDC says there are 800,000 cases of a good guy with a gun protecting life every year and roughly 34,000 evil uses of a gun (I’m really giving them the benefit of the doubt on that number), then it means that for every evil use of a gun, there are 23.5 good uses of a gun. If there were 2,631 evil uses of a gun from the NICS system failing (which is what they are saying, right?), then there were 61,828.5 good uses of a gun associated by the numbers to the 2,631. It would be interesting to take this ridiculous example I’m posing further by figuring out how many of those 10,079 rejections resulted in the lack of being able to save lives, or leading to deaths. The point I’m making is that my methodology is just as good as theirs even though it is just made-up stuff pulled from actual studies, a CDC study nonetheless (even though they are supposedly blocked – we know they aren’t).

  15. avatar Michael says:

    “Eventually”, so, now the feds are using chicken entrails, the crystal ball and Ouji boards to justify policy. “Eventually”, if denied a firearm these people “might” turn to other types of crime, you know, like, run for political office or some other form of continuous criminal conspiracy. Peer review, “if you endorse my crackpot lies, I’ll support your politically driven conclusions”. -30-

  16. avatar Enuf says:

    Yeah, those darned criminals, always fibbers the lot of them.

    You know what we need? We need a law banning criminals from telling lies.

    See, easy fix, why didn’t anybody else think of this?

    Okay, I’m on a roll here … next problem?

    1. avatar MyName says:

      next problem?

      Economic inequity in the third world.

  17. avatar Michael says:

    Don’t the questions on the 4473 violate the 5th amendment? Just askin’. -30-

  18. avatar MGD says:

    CNN discovers that water is wet.

    1. avatar MyName says:

      Well, you know, even a blind clock finds a broken nut under a squirrel once in a while, or something like that.

  19. avatar Smile, wait for the flash says:

    Where the crimes committed using a firearm? Only an idiot, or a psychotic Anti-NRA Leftist, would commit a crime with the very same firearm they purchased legally. By the way, guns do not kill people.

  20. avatar Minuteman says:

    I think we need background checks every time we buy a knife. I’ve cut myself numerous times using one. Never have been injured by my guns. Seems knives are much more dangerous.

    1. avatar Bierce Ambrose says:

      Don’t give them ideas.

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