Hobbled by Congress, federal watchdogs rarely revoke the licenses of lawbreaking gun dealers. And when they do, stores can easily beat the system by having a relative, friend or employee pull a fresh license - something that routinely happens across the country, a Journal Sentinel investigation by reporters John Diedrich and Ben Poston has found. The newspaper identified more than 50 stores in 20 states over the past six years where such a move was made, wiping the operation's slate clean. The newspaper's review, which involved contacting more than 150 gun dealers, uncovered 34 additional stores with indications a revoked license holder remains connected to a gun-dealing operation. The Journal Sentinel investigation also found that the ATF inspects less than 20% of the nation's roughly 62,000 federally licensed firearms dealers each year and tries to shut down just a fraction of them, with the number dramatically dropping in the past six years. And when the agency tries to take away a license, it succeeds just half the time.
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