In 1996, Congress amended the Gun Control Act of 1968 (Lautenberg Amendment) to prohibit individuals convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence from possessing firearms. There is no exemption for law enforcement officers.
An Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation has found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), United States Secret Service (Secret Service), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have not fully complied with DHS’ guidelines for implementing the Lautenberg Amendment.
OIG said CBP and Secret Service did not ensure law enforcement officers completed annual Lautenberg Amendment certifications as required. In addition, the investigation revealed that CBP and ICE did not use available resources to monitor the arrests and convictions of law enforcement officers subject to the Lautenberg Amendment. OIG also found that none of the four components provided domestic violence awareness training to law enforcement officers as required by the implementing guidelines.
OIG therefore recommends the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Under Secretary for the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans establish an oversight mechanism to ensure Department components implement DHS policy as required. This is to include providing annual domestic violence awareness training for law enforcement officers and their supervisors; orally advising all law enforcement officers, during quarterly firearms qualifications, of their duty to report when law enforcement contacts them concerning engagement in domestic violence; and ensuring all law enforcement officers annually complete Lautenberg Amendment certifications.
DHS concurred and added that on September 28 this year, it re-established the Law Enforcement Policy Office, which will perform the oversight functions related to Lautenberg Amendment requirements. DHS expects to complete work to meet this recommendation by October 29, 2021.
OIG also recommended that the CBP Commissioner and ICE Director fully implement the DHS continuous monitoring program to allow for notification and tracking of employee arrests.
DHS responded that CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility implemented a continuous evaluation program in June 2018 for all active CBP Federal employees in sensitive security positions. The program conducts real-time vetting checks on 52,000 CBP employees, including all active law enforcement officers who would be subject to the Lautenberg Amendment. The program runs a variety of checks daily and/or weekly, including National Crime Information Center address and secondary inspection checks, as well as screenings in terrorist databases. Adjudicators review any derogatory information and refer verified arrest incidents and protection orders to CBP’s Investigative Operations Division. In addition to CBP’s continuous evaluation program, since May 2019, CBP also enrolled all eligible employees in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s continuous evaluation program, which is part of the security clearance process. This program allows for review of information between periodic reinvestigation cycles. Together, these continuous evaluation programs allow for tracking and notification of employee arrests.
ICE enrolled 25 percent of personnel occupying national security positions in FY 2019 and 50 percent of personnel occupying national security positions in FY 2020 in the Department’s Continuous Evaluation Program. ICE’s Chief Security Officer and Office of Professional Responsibility staff will continue to ensure ICE meets the established requirement to enroll 100 percent of its personnel occupying national security positions in the program. It expects to reach this goal by October 29, 2021.