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California Justice Department Defies Ashcroft

California justice officials defy a U.S. Justice Department warning that they are violating federal law by using a national firearms database to weed out illegal gun owners.

The California Department of Justice runs 4,000 background checks annually through the National Instant Check System before police return to their owner€™s guns that had been confiscated or used in a crime. The FBI says it´s illegal to use the system other than for gun sales.

Gun control advocates blame U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft for trying to block the gun checks. The National Rifle Association says Ashcroft is just following the law.