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Some records never make it into the databases, and others are incomplete or unclear. Information on 52, open warrants were purged from the FBI's list of banned gun buyers earlier this year.


  • FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
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  • What is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)??

The Air Force later revealed that it had failed to submit criminal records to NICS that could have blocked the shooter, an Air Force veteran, from buying a gun. In other cases, people are allowed to leave a gun shop with a firearm, only for a checker to later discover that they are disqualified.

FBI/NICS News, Links and Resources

The gunman who killed nine people at baptist church in Charleston, South Carolina, in , obtained his weapons through such a purchase. The bill, sponsored by Cornyn and Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a Democrat, would require federal agencies to improve their reporting standards and encourage states to follow suit. The plans would include specific quantitative goals and timelines for compliance.

The attorney general would report the number or records, broken down by category, that each federal agency had reported. Political appointees at agencies that did not comply would not be given annual bonuses. States and federal agencies would be called out publicly if they failed to meet the goals they had set.

National Instant Criminal Background Check System Overview

They would also be given technical support as they work to build better reporting systems. Priority would be given to states that show they have a detailed plan for implementing better practices for record reporting. Experts agree that the Fix NICS Act would add welcome resources and accountability to a complex and cloudy gun background check system.

The Voluntary Appeal File VAF was established to assist in these types of situations by providing a way for an individual to request that NICS maintain information to clarify their identity or past events to prevent future extended delays or erroneous denials on firearm transfers. A delayed transaction will be purged from the NICS within 88 days from creation. If your original background check is completed, the Federal Firearms Licensee FFL will be notified with a final status.

Background Check Procedures | Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

If you would like to challenge your firearm background check online—including a Nuclear Regulatory Commission background check—please visit www. Individuals attempting to purchase firearms who experience extended delays or erroneous denials may apply to be considered for entry into the VAF by signing an applicant statement that authorizes the NICS Section to retain information that would otherwise be destroyed upon the approval of the firearm transaction.

A fingerprint card is also required when applying for VAF. A complete NICS check is still required for future purchases and will result in a denial if additional prohibitive information is discovered.

A VAF application and fingerprint form can be obtained online below , by emailing a request to nics fbi. A "Denied" message from the NICS indicates the subject of a NICS background check has been matched with a similar name and similar descriptive information of a record containing a state or federal prohibition. A "Delayed" message from the NICS indicates the subject of a NICS background check has been matched with a similar name and similar descriptive information associated with a record containing a potential state or federal firearm prohibition.

The NICS Section must obtain additional information before making a final determination of a Proceed or Denied for the firearm transfer.

List: 13 gaping holes in FBI gun background check system

In addition to federally prohibitive criteria, the NICS must delay or deny firearm transfers based on applicable state law. If your original background check is completed, the Federal Firearm Licensee will be notified with a final status. It takes the FBI less than two minutes to complete the vast majority of checks.

Sometimes, however, an examiner finds a record that indicates the buyer may be barred from guns, but requires more research. An arrest for felony battery, for instance, would trip alarms for an examiner.


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  6. Only a conviction for that crime, however, would mean the shopper is forbidden from owning firearms. In those trickier cases, the examiner continues vetting the buyer. The process can be arduous, often involving calling local records offices and courthouses and asking clerks to pull files and fax documents. The number of buyers acquiring firearms through such so-called default proceed sales climbed to over , in , the last year for which FBI data is available. The database contains a record showing that Roof admitted drug possession.

    If examiners had been able to see it, he would have quickly been denied. The FBI advisory group that recommended examiners start checking N-DEx debated whether they should search it during every check, or only when information is found in the initial check that that requires further research.


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    The background check system is already strained. When NICS was established in , examiners processed about , checks a month.

    Retail Gun Sales

    Now that number is about two million. The agency has consistently requested more funding and staff positions but has received only modest increases, leaving critical shortages. Last year, employees were often prohibited from taking time off and were collectively working as much as 2, hours of overtime a week. Morris would like Congress to extend the time limit FBI examiners have to complete a background check from three to five days.