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Published On: Fri, Mar 16th, 2018

FBI’s David Bowdich: Obama’s DOJ forced removal of 500K ‘fugitives’ from background check database, allowing them to buy guns

Acting FBI deputy director David Bowdich testified Wednesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that President Obama’s Department of Justice forced the FBI to delete over 500,000 fugitives, who had outstanding arrest warrants, from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

“It’s my understanding that under federal law fugitives cannot legally purchase or possess guns,” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) began.

“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?” Feinstein asked.

“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.”

Essentially, Bowdich confirmed a November Washington Post article which stated that “tens of thousands” were removed from the database.

The WaPo noted that just before President Trump took office, the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel went with the ATF definition of “fugitive”:

“Any one of these potentially dangerous fugitives can currently walk into a licensed gun dealer, pass a criminal background check, and walk out with a gun,” Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, wrote in a letter to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray on Wednesday. The Giffords organization, founded by former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, called on the FBI and ATF to “correct this self-inflicted loophole” and recover all guns illegally purchased this year because of the purge of names from the database.

“The Justice Department is committed to working with law enforcement partners across the country to help ensure that all those who can legally be determined to be prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm be included in federal criminal databases,” a Justice Department official told the Washington Post last November.

President Barack Obama meets with senior advisors in the Roosevelt Room. 2/16/09. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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