More than 4,000 guns retrieved from buyers who failed background checks last year

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WASHINGTON (ABC News) — More than 4,000 guns were taken back from buyers in 2016 who were found to have failed background checks after the guns were sold to them.

Background checks have been under recent scrutiny since it was found that the suspect in a deadly rampage that took place in a Texas church last month bought an assault rifle, despite laws restricting people convicted of domestic abuse from buying weapons.

When a gun is purchased by a federally licensed gun dealer, the FBI must run a background check. By federal law, this must happen within three days, or, the deal is approved by default in some states.

Still, the background check often continues after the sale, and in some cases, the FBI decides the buyer should be prohibited from having a gun after it has already been purchased.

When such “delayed denials” happen, the case goes to the ATF, who is then supposed to retrieve the weapon.

Then, either state police or ATF go door to door to get the gun back from the would-be owner.

In 2016, 4,170 guns were retrieved in this manner, according to a recent report by USA Today.

According to the Department of Justice, the FBI processed more than 51 million background checks from 2008 to 2014. In that time, only 556,496 — roughly 1 percent — were denied.

The number of background checks has recently been on the rise. Black Friday, this year established a new single-day high for background checks at more than 200,000, the FBI reports.

A spokesperson for the ATF said that the success rate of ATF recoveries is not publicly available. However, a report published by the DOJ Inspector General in 2016 showed that the ATF recovered 93 percent of a sample of 125 firearms that needed to be taken back.

Because gun laws from state to state vary so much, delayed denials are less common in states like California that have a 30-day waiting period to buy guns.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed the FBI and ATF in November to conduct a comprehensive review of the background check system after the revelation that the Texas church shooter was not entered into the database correctly.

“The recent shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas revealed that relevant information may not be getting reported to the NICS — this is alarming and it is unacceptable,” Sessions said in a statement at the time.

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