CNN decided to "investigate" the number of people who lie on the 4473 forms, which are used when someone purchases a firearm. It asks basic questions like your name, address, date of birth and if you've committed a number of criminal violations. When you fill it out you check a simple "yes" or "no" on each question. Lying on 4473 is a felony that can result in a hefty fine and up to 10 years in prison.
What's silly is it took an "investigation" for CNN to realize a fact that gun rights advocates have been saying for years: criminals lie. And the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) very rarely prosecutes those who are caught lying on the form.
Here's what their "investigation" found:
Past and present ATF agents and prosecutors told CNN that, given limited resources, they're not inclined to prioritize the nonviolent crime of lying on a form over more serious charges, like gun trafficking. The very few "lie and try" cases they prosecute focus on dangerous "trigger pullers" who clearly know they're prohibited from owning a firearm -- career criminals with a history of violence or activity in the drug trade.
But a 2006 internal ATF briefing paper obtained by CNN suggests that gun form liars are far more likely to go on to commit a gun crime than even many experts recognize. When ATF analyzed firearm denial cases sent to field offices for investigation during a seven-year period, it found that 10%-21% of that group went on to be arrested for a crime involving guns.
But a surprising range of authorities have argued that enforcing "lie and try" could make a difference -- including not only anti-gun groups and criminal justice academics, but also former law enforcement officers, the Department of Justice under the Trump administration, and even the National Rifle Association...
That reduces the law's function as a deterrent to prohibited possessors who might hope to get lucky with the federal background check system. It also allows gun form liars to fly under the radar for law enforcement -- and to avoid being assigned a probation officer who would monitor them to make sure they didn't obtain a weapon. And, in the event of a later crime, it leaves what could have been a significant previous charge -- which might typically lead to more prison time -- off their records.
It doesn't take a genius to know that criminals commit crimes. They don't follow the law. Hello! That's the very definition of being a criminal. It's also why so many gun owners cry foul when new gun control laws are put on the books, because all the new laws do is punish the law-abiding, not criminals.
If the decade-old 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.
If the ATF isn't going to investigate those who lie on 4473s or those who fail background checks, why the hell do we have the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)? There is absolutely no need for NICS if we're missing roughly 70 percent of all convictions. What if someone lies on the form and they passed a background check? They circumvented the very gun control laws that are supposed to keep criminals from obtaining a firearm. That's why Fix NICS is such an important piece of legislation. It can make NICS as wholesome as possible.
But apparently the news network had to really "dive deep" to find out the rough reality we've been talking about for years.
Welcome to reality, CNN. Why don't you join us and stay awhile?