Failed background check sparks conversations about accuracy of current system

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- A convicted felon passed a federal background check, bought two guns, and then shot and nearly killed his landlord.

A CBS4 investigation uncovered a breakdown in a federal system that could have been deadly.

Now, CBS4 is asking state lawmakers what, if anything, can be done to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

In dramatic body camera footage from the Muncie Police Department, images show Tony Ong struggling to take breaths, trying to survive being shot right in the chest.

It happened in September 2017. Police ask Ong who shot him. The person is a man Ong knew well. He responded, "Keanan Abraman."

Abraman is also known to police as Rodney Patterson. He has a long list of felony convictions. Hours before the shooting, Abraman went to a local gun store. He filled out a federal background check form, called a 4473, full of lies.

On the optional box for a social security number, he wrote a fake one. He also checked a box that stated he had no felony convictions.

Within minutes, the background check cleared. Abraman can be seen on surveillance video buying two guns and walking out of the store.

It’s still unclear how the background check system run by the FBI didn’t catch Abraman’s lies. The FBI declined multiple requests for information citing The Privacy Act.

The address and date of birth on the form were correct. Police believe the gun store was not a fault and somehow Abraman slipped through the cracks of a federal system that didn’t work.

"Even a perfect background check system isn’t going to stop everybody who should not have a gun from getting a gun," said Mark Stuaan.

Stuaan is a former federal prosecutor who is not involved in this case. He admits the current background check system could use an overhaul.

"Even a perfect background check system isn’t going to stop everybody who should not have a gun from getting a gun," Stuaan said. "It’s a system designed by individuals and it depends on the quality of information that gets put into the system."

In Indiana, the current system sends background checks for gun purchases directly to the FBI through a system called NICS. The system checks state and federal databases, and the check can be cleared almost instantaneously.

In other states, like Illinois, there is a built in delay. The forms are first run through a state database, then through the FBI. The wait time can be up to 24 or 78 hours.

Agreeing on which process will best protect Hoosiers has our lawmakers divided.

"It’s a hot button issue. It has been in the past, and it will continue to be so," said Representative Jim Lucas (R-Seymour).

"The conversation is too hostile, too uninformed,” said Representative Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis.)

Their opinions on delayed background checks couldn’t be more different.

"For the finest American, the most peace loving American, couldn’t they wait 42-78 hours?" DeLaney asked.

"You’re talking about more bureaucracy, longer wait times, more infringement on the innocent people," Lucas stated.

Both admit, it’s not likely anything will change anytime soon, with neither side able to come together to discuss the issue, let alone any possible solutions.

"I think we need to start the conversation and I don’t think, we’re not in the mood to have the conversation," DeLaney said.

When asked if he would consider any changes to the current background check process in Indiana, Lucas responded, "I will fight that with every breath in my body, absolutely."

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