National Instant Criminal Background Check System
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The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is a point-of-sale system for determining eligibility to purchase a firearm in the United
States of America. Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders are generally required by law to use the NICS to determine if it is legal to sell a firearm
to a prospective purchaser. The NICS determines if the buyer is prohibited from buying a firearm under the Gun Control Act of 1968. It is linked to
the National Crime Information Center and the Interstate Identification Index among other databases maintained by the FBI.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is applicable to sales from federally licensed dealers. Sales of firearms by private sellers are
allowed to proceed without a background check unless required by state law. These regulations remain in place at gun shows, where no special leniency
is granted to licensed sellers, and no additional requirements are placed upon private sellers.
NICS is accessed by an FFL, on the firearm buyer's behalf, by phone or computer. When contacted by phone, the communication is either with an
FBI/NICS Examiner, who directly receives the information submitted by the FFL, or by proxy through a Call Center representative, who forwards the
information electronically to the NICS. Whether an Examiner or a Call Center representative is contacted depends on the state in which the sale is
conducted. When using a computer, an FFL representative can submit the buyer's information using the E-Check system which is a web interface to the
NICS. An FFL can be an individual or an organization such as a retail store. An organization registered as an FFL minimizes the overhead involved in
managing identification for multiple individuals who are employed by the organization.
By law, an FFL must receive a response from the NICS within 3 days or the firearm sale can proceed, although the FFL seller is not required to do so.
If, after 3 days, the sale is completed and later it is determined the buyer should not have received the firearm, then the firearm must be
1 Firearm Denial Appeals
2 Persons subject to prohibition
4 See also
Firearm Denial Appeals
If a buyer believes that the denial is erroneous based on a match to a record returned by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System
(NICS), the buyer may appeal the decision, by either challenging the accuracy of the record used in the evaluation of the denial or claiming that the
record used as basis for the denial is invalid or does not pertain to the buyer. The provisions for appeals are outlined in the NICS Regulations at
Title 28, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 25.10, and Subsection 103 (f) and (g) and Section 104 of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of
Persons subject to prohibition
Sections 922(g) and (n) of the Gun Control Act prohibits certain persons from shipping or transporting any firearm in interstate or foreign
commerce, or receiving any firearm which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, or possessing any firearm in or affecting
commerce. These prohibitions apply to any person who:
Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
Is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
Is a fugitive from justice
Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance
Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution
Is illegally or unlawfully in the United States
Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions
Having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced U.S. citizenship
Is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate
Has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
In addition to local, state, tribal, and federal agencies voluntarily contributing information to the NICS Index, the NICS Section receives telephone
calls from mental health institutions, psychiatrists, police departments, and family members requesting placement of individuals into the NICS Index.
Frequently, these are emergency situations and require immediate attention. Any documentation justifying a valid entry into the NICS Index must be
available to the originating agencies.
^ a b c www.fbi.gov...
^ Davidson, Charlie. "FBI Background Check Denial Appeal Process". Retrieved 25 April 2012.
^ United States Code, Title 18, Chapter 44 (at the Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute)
NICS Program Summary
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives