A loophole in federal gun laws made it possible for more than 7,000 people who should have been barred from buying guns to purchase a weapon.
That's according to a Justice Department review of 2002 and 2003.
Federal law requires prospective gun buyers to wait three business days while a background check is conducted. But if there's a delay in completing that check, the law says the purchase must be allowed.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says it retrieved the weapon in 97-percent of those cases that shouldn't have been approved.
That sometimes took a year or longer, ample time for an illegal buyer to use the gun to commit a crime.