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Feds say 2 percent of firearm applicants rejected in 2001

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Roughly two out of every 100 applicants who applied to purchase a firearm last year were rejected after a background check, and a smaller percentage was arrested, federal statistics released Sunday showed.

In real numbers, 151,000 out of nearly 7.6 million applicants -- or 1.9 percent -- were rejected after checks by the FBI or state and local agencies, according to the Justice Department.

About 1,900 were arrested, according to the findings compiled by the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics. The department has been making checks since the federal Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act went into effect in 1994.

Permit rejections
  • 72 percent: Felony convictions, indictments, domestic violence misdemeanor convictions, restraining orders
  • 7.5 percent: State or local law prohibitions
  • 6 percent: Fugitive
  • 1 percent: Mental illness or disability
  • 1 percent: Drug addiction
  • 12.5 percent: Other reasons, such as having a dishonorable discharge from the armed services or being an illegal alien

    Source: Justice Department
  • The 2001 rejection rate for firearms purchases is similar to the rejection rate for previous years. Almost 38 million applications were made from March 1994 to December 2001 to federally licensed dealers, of which about 840,000 -- about 2 percent -- were rejected, a statement from the Justice Department said.

    Applicants may be rejected for having a criminal record or being otherwise ineligible under federal or state law.

    The vast majority -- 72 percent -- of rejections in 2001 were due to felony convictions or indictments or domestic violence misdemeanor convictions or restraining orders. Other reasons -- those who are fugitives, illegal aliens, suffer drug addiction or a mental illness or disability, or have had a dishonorable discharge from the armed services -- made up the balance of rejections.

    Persons whose background checks prevent them from receiving a firearm or a permit may be arrested and prosecuted if they are wanted in an outstanding warrant or have submitted false information on their applications, according to law.

    The FBI implemented the system of background checks established in the Brady Act as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

    The Justice Department also announced Sunday that it is awarding more than $36 million to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and three territories that applied for funding (American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands) to improve the quality and accessibility of their criminal history record systems.

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