EL PASO, TEXAS — All the hype on gun control has caused gun sales to soar. Indirectly, it has also lead to weapons getting into the wrong hands.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's website shows background checks on firearm sales jumped significantly from November to December across the country, and nearly doubled in Texas.
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigations have sprouted after the backlog from the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS) has indirectly allowed felons and other people who aren't legally allowed to buy guns to do so.
"Even through the NICS checks though, sometimes convicted felons or prohibited people do get the firearms, because the check doesn't come back in time," said ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Field Office, Robert Champion.
"Recently we've seen an uptick in those types of investigations because there was such a demand and rush to purchase these firearms in lieu of what transpired at Sandy Hook," he said.
Mike Maldonado, who just moved away from El Paso to Miami, went to purchase a gun after Christmas at a local gun store.
"I filled out the application for the background check. They told me they would be back in a couple of minutes, After a couple of minutes, they told me there was a delay."
If a check is delayed, as in Maldonado's case, by law a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) gun store only has to wait three business days for the NICS to come up with an answer, according to the FBI's website.
If not "...it is within the FFL's discretion whether or not to transfer the firearm if state law permits the transfer."
When guns get into the wrong hands, it's the job of ATF agents to track them down.
"So we have to, in turn, retrieve those firearms from those illegal purchasers, and that takes up a substantial amount of time, and manpower also," said Champion.
Maldonado, who has a concealed handgun license, returned to the store Jan. 5. They ran the check again, with still no results. So he says, they gave him the gun.
It's been 12 days since Maldonado got his gun, and still he hasn't been contacted.
" I have not gotten any call from anybody, I have not heard from the gun store," he said.
" I purchased this gun in Texas, and in a couple weeks I've already moved to Miami. Now, I've traveled with a gun through states. Who knows what other person could be doing the same thing."
The ATF reports the following people cannot purchase a firearm:
Anyone under indictment or information in any court for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
a person convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
a person who is a fugitive from justice;
anyone who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
a person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution;
anyone who is an illegal alien;
anyone who has been discharged from the military under dishonorable conditions;
anyone who has renounced his or her United States citizenship;
anyone who is subject to a court order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner; or who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence