BURLINGTON, Wash. -

 It was 2005 when the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives discovered that a gun shop in Skagit County couldn't account for nearly 2,400 weapons.

Nevertheless, eight years elapsed before federal authorities shut it down.

The Seattle Times reports that the case highlights how budget cuts and regulatory restrictions that Congress has imposed under pressure from the gun lobby have made it difficult for the ATF to do its job. In 2012, the Seattle division had only 27 inspectors to cover more than 4,000 licensed gun dealers in five states and Guam.

The ATF also found that workers at Kesselring Gun Shop often failed to document the outcomes of instant background checks. Federal authorities forced Kesselring to surrender its license for "willful" misconduct last October.