ATF out of loop during Navy Yard investigation
WASHINGTON (CBS)–Within hours of the Navy Yard shootings, the FBI had traced the gunman’s recent shotgun purchase and sent agents to the shop in northern Virginia where he bought it. Left out of the loop was the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a surprising snub between top U.S. law enforcement agencies that comes as the ATF struggles to show its relevance in Washington.
The ATF is the federal agency in charge of tracing guns used in crimes, including the military-style semi-automatic rifle used in rampage at a Connecticut school last year, a similar rifle used in the deadly shooting at a Colorado movie theater and a handgun used to kill six people and critically wound a congresswoman, among others, outside a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz.
By the afternoon of the Navy Yard shootings, FBI agents — not ATF agents — were in northern Virginia at the gun shop where Aaron Alexis, 34, bought a Remington 870 Express shotgun and about two dozen shells barely 48 hours earlier. By day’s end it was clear that the shotgun, which Alexis altered with a sawed-down barrel and shoulder stock, was purchased legally after Alexis showed his valid Texas driver’s license and passed both a state and federal background check.
But the ATF wasn’t involved.
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