The National Instant Criminal Background Check System also known as NICS check is a process of a background check when someone tries to buy a firearm. The NICS check was established as a result of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 (Brady Act) requirements. The main purpose of this background check is to save lives and protect people from harm by not letting firearms fall into the wrong hands. This background check is only required when you want to buy a firearm. Gun shop owners, pawnshop dealers, and retailers use NICS to determine whether a person can legally buy or own a firearm. The NICS check is operated by the FBI.
A person can’t run a NICS check on himself. This background check can only be done if you buy a firearm through a licensed dealer. The Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) are the only entities authorized to run a NICS check. As a private individual, you can’t run this check. If you call the Martinsburg, WV without the necessary identifiers then they will get you hung upon.
What Database Was Searched During The Background Check Process Of NICS
The FBI developed the NICS through a cooperative effort with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF); the Department of Justice; and local and state law enforcement agencies. This process is designed to immediately respond to background check inquiries for prospective firearm transferees. Four nationally held databases managed by the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division are checked during the process:
Interstate Identification Index (III): The III maintains subject criminal history records. As of December 31, 2013, the III records available to be searched by the NICS during a background check numbered 66,679,543.
National Crime Information Center (NCIC): The NCIC contains data on persons who are the subjects of protection orders or active criminal warrants, immigration violators, and others. As of December 31, 2013, the NCIC records available to be searched by the NICS during a background check numbered 5,463,159.
NICS Index: The NICS Index, a database created specifically for the NICS, collects and maintains information contributed by local, state, tribal, and federal agencies pertaining to persons prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm pursuant to state and federal law. Typically, the records maintained in the NICS Index are not available via the III or the NCIC. As of December 31, 2013, there were 11,166,690 records in the NICS Index.
Department Of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement (ICE): The relevant databases of the ICE are searched for non-U.S. citizens attempting to receive firearms in the United States. In 2013, the NICS Section and the Point-of-Contact (POC) states (states that have implemented a state-based NICS program) sent 118,183 such queries to the ICE. From February 2002 to December 31, 2013, the ICE conducted over 517,943 queries in support of the NICS.
Federal Prohibits From Possessing Or Receiving A Firearm
18 U.S.C. §922 (g) (1)
Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
18 U.S.C. §922 (g) (2)
Is a fugitive from justice;
18 U.S.C. §922 (g) (3)
Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
18 U.S.C. §922 (g) (4)
Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution;
18 U.S.C. §922 (g) (5)
Is illegally or unlawfully in the United States;
18 U.S.C. §922 (g) (6)
Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
18 U.S.C. §922 (g) (7)
Having been a citizen of the United States has renounced U.S. citizenship;
18 U.S.C. §922 (g) (8)
Is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner;
18 U.S.C. §922 (g) (9)
Has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence;
18 U.S.C. §922 (n)
Is under indictment/information for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
Reasons Why People Fails Federal Gun Background Checks
There are many reasons people fail the federal gun background check. Below I have listed a few very common reasons. Let’s check them out!
1. Convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year or a misdemeanor punishable by more than two years
2. Fugitive from Justice or the person has fled the state that issued the warrant
3. Illegal possession of a controlled substance or addiction to a controlled substance
4. Misdemeanor convictions for the crime of domestic violence
5. Different state’s own additional categories of prohibited firearm purchases
6. People who are under indictment for a crime carrying a potential year-long jail sentence but yet to be convicted
7. Restraining orders are included in NICS so gun restrictions are applied on people who have received such orders
8. People who are diagnosed with a severe mental illness like schizophrenia and other psychological problems
9. Illegal or unlawful immigrants are not allowed to buy firearms in the USA
10. Federally denied person file are ineligible to possess a firearm
11. Violations of military conduct or military personnel kicked off the service can’t possess a firearm
12. A person who has renounced United States citizenship
13. A person convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime which includes the use or attempted use of physical force or threatened use of a deadly weapon
FAQs About NICS Check
1. Who Must Comply With The Requirements To Conduct A NICS Background Check Prior To Transferring A Firearm?
According to 18 U.S.C. 922(t); 27 CFR 478.102; the licensed firearms importers, manufacturers, and dealers have to conduct a NICS background check prior to transferring a firearm.
2. Are NICS Checks Conducted By ATF?
No, the NICS check is not conducted by ATF.
3. Do All NICS Checks Go Through the FBI’s NICS Operations Center?
Most of the NICS checks go through the FBI’s NICS Operations Center but not all of them. In many states, licensees initiate NICS checks are done through the state point of contact (POC). Here the state point of contact (POC) serves as an intermediary between a licensee and the federal databases checked by the NICS.
4. Is There A Charge For NICS Checks?
No, the FBI does not charge a fee for conducting NICS checks. So the process is completely free.
5. Is A NICS Background Check Required For The Transfer Of Long Guns As Well As Handguns?
Yes, regardless of the firearm type, licensed manufacturers, importers, and dealers have to conduct a NICS background check prior to transferring a firearm.
6. Is A NICS Background Check Required For The Transfer Of Antique Firearms?
No, if a weapon meets the definition of an “antique firearm” then it doesn’t require a NICS background check for the transfer.
7. What Types Of “firearm transfers” Are Exempt From The NICS Background Check Requirement?
Here are a few transfers that are exempt from the NICS background check requirement:
1. Transfers to a person who has a state permit that has been recognized by ATF because it is an alternative for NICS check
2. Transfers of National Firearms Act weapons to persons approved by ATF
3. Transfers certified by ATF because the NICS background check requirement is impracticable
8. Can I Fill Out Form 4473 At Home?
Yes, you can fill out form 4473 Online. The buyer must personally complete section A of this form. Section A contains personal information including residence address, place of birth, SSN, and other related information about mental and physical health.
9. How Long Does It Take To Get FFL Approved?
The complete process of NICS background check and other required processes will take around 60 days to get FFL approved. The time count will start from the day your correct application was first received at the FFLC.
10. How Do I know If I Pass A Background Check?
The authority will either call you or mail you to let you know if the background check has cleared or not. In many cases, the applicant might not receive any notification but receive an offer.
Magalie D. is a Diploma holder in Public Administration & Management from McGill University of Canada. She shares management tips here in MGTBlog when she has nothing to do and gets some free time after working in a multinational company at Toronto.