Firearms License Applications:

Processing Improvements Made But Applicant Qualification Checks Limited

GGD-93-20BR: Published: Nov 2, 1992. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the efficiency with which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) processes firearms license applications, focusing on whether: (1) ATF met the 45-day statutory time requirement for approving license applications; and (2) the application review process could be made more efficient.

GAO found that: (1) ATF did not approve 10 percent of the firearms license applications submitted within the statutorily mandated period; (2) the ATF method of tracking and reporting late applications was inaccurate; (3) applications the area offices asked examiners to hold were not being counted as late; (4) license applications that ATF area offices decided not to inspect sat in suspense files, and ATF did not act upon them until pre-established target approval dates were reached; (5) application examiners used target approval dates that varied and resulted in some applications being approval late; and (6) ATF was unable to ensure that firearms applicants met all qualifications because of weaknesses in the completeness and currency of state and federal criminal history record systems and difficulty in verifying other applicant qualifiers.

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