When a person tries to buy a firearm, the seller, known as a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL), contacts NICS electronically or by phone. The prospective buyer fills out the ATF form, and the FFL relays that information to the NICS. The NICS staff performs a background check on the buyer. That background check verifies the buyer does not have a criminal record or isn't otherwise ineligible to purchase or own a firearm. Since launching in 1998, more than 300 million checks have been done, leading to more than 1.5 million denials.
If the FBI cannot make a determination within three business days of a background check, the FFL may transfer the firearm, unless prohibited by state law (per the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993.)
A delay response indicates the subject of the background check has been matched with either a state or federal potentially prohibiting record containing a similar name and/or similar descriptive features (name, sex, race, date of birth, state of residence, social security number, height, weight, or place of birth). The federally prohibiting criteria are as follows:
When you apply for the VAF, FBI personnel will research your case and assign you a Unique Personal Identification Number (UPIN) if you have no firearms prohibitions. For future firearms transactions, you will provide your UPIN for your background check. You will still have to undergo a complete background check to buy a firearm, but the UPIN will help to confirm your identity.
Comey said he had ordered an internal review of FBI policies and procedures surrounding background checks for weapons purchases. The bureau's examiners conduct criminal checks before guns are bought in about 30 states; the remainder of states generally perform their own checks.
The FBI background check worker, described by Comey as an experienced examiner who has been "struggling" over the church shooting, never heard back from prosecutors in Lexington. But if she had called police in Columbia and seen their arrest record on Roof, she would have known he had admitted to possessing a controlled substance. And that, Comey said, would have triggered an FBI denial of his weapons purchase on the grounds that he was "an unlawful drug user or addict."
Current federal law does not require background checks on sales between unlicensed parties. This means that people with dangerous histories can easily circumvent the background check system simply by purchasing their firearm online or at a gun show.
***Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Oregon FICS unit is now only processing firearms backgrounds checks via the online portal. Please visit to submit your transactions. Thank you for your cooperation.***
In the United States, anybody who wants to buy a gun from a federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL) is subject to a background check. Since 1998, when the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, went online, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has processed more than 320 million of them.
Felony convictions are the most common reason for the gun background check system to reject an applicant, resulting in 865,910 denials during the 21 years that NICS has been in operation. More than 189,000 fugitives, 212,000 domestic offenders, and 148,000 unlawful drug users have also been blocked. The bar for denying someone on mental health grounds is very high, requiring that a person has been declared unsound or involuntarily confined to a psychiatric institution by a court or other authority. Fewer than 43,000 people have been denied under this criterion.
Default proceed sales can have public safety implications. In April 2015, the Charleston church gunman legally purchased a Glock in such a transaction after a cascade of clerical errors delayed his background check. He was disqualified from gun ownership because of a drug charge. Two months later, he used the weapon he bought to murder nine parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Today in Colorado, President Obama asked the American people to continue calling on Congress to vote on a set of common-sense proposals to help reduce gun violence, including closing loopholes in the background check system to keep guns out of the hands criminals and others who should not have access to them.
In the 20 years since it was first established, the national background check system has already kept more than 2 million dangerous people from buying a gun. But loopholes currently in the law let too many criminals avoid background checks entirely, President Obama said.
Closing those loopholes by requiring background checks for anyone who wants to buy a gun is one of the proposals President Obama put forward in January to help reduce gun violence. And as soon as next week, the Senate will get to vote on the matter.
Here's how it's supposed to work: To buy ammunition, you have to prove you are legally allowed to possess guns and ammunition. The "instant" background check is based on the California Department of Justice having a record of the ammo buyer having passed a background check to buy a gun.
For five out of six Californians, the process goes smoothly: They show their California driver's license or military ID, pay a dollar for a background check, wait a few minutes, pay for their ammo, then walk out of the store with their ammo. Those who have never been background-checked to buy a gun in California can pay $19 for a one-time, not-instant background check, and come back to the store in a few days and buy their ammunition.
One in six, however, can't pass the background check, and the reason for the overwhelming majority of them is rooted in records (more on that below). Of the 102,147 people this law has stopped from buying ammunition as of this writing, 758 were actually "prohibited persons." The rest were just rejected by a system that works poorly.
The only place background checks aren't required by law is shooting ranges, but ranges can skip the background check only if the ammo you purchase is used in its entirety at the range that day - you can't take any home. Some ranges may choose to require background checks anyway to avoid risk.
Want to get around this law by stocking up on ammo in another state? Well, you can buy ammunition out of state, but to bring it into California, you first have to ship it to a licensed California ammunition vendor so they can perform a background check and hand your ammo back to you. The law does not limit the fee the vendor can charge for this service.
There is no record in the state's database of you passing a background check to buy a firearm. The state began saving data about firearm purchases in 2014 for long guns and 1990 for handguns, so if your last purchase was before then, you are not in the state's database. To get into the database, you can register a firearm using this form, which costs $19. For some people, the registration process goes smoothly, but many have reported difficulties, as well as uncertainty about whether and when the state's database has been updated with this information.
Most people will have to get a background check every time they buy ammunition in California. Private party transactions must be processed through a licensed ammunition vendor, which can charge a fee, and the buyer is subject to background check. Note: There is NO limit on the quantity of ammunition you can purchase, or the gauge/caliber.
Note: Though this system uses records of past gun purchases, it does so just to show you cleared a background check. There is no requirement for the ammunition you purchase to match the gauge or caliber of firearm(s) listed in your AFS records.
Californians who buy ammunition outside of California may bring it back into the state only if they ship it to licensed ammunition vendors and submit to a background check to pick it up. Vendors may charge a fee for this service. The same applies to ordering ammunition online.
Note: If you are caught bringing ammunition you purchased out of state into California without shipping it to a licensed vendor and submitting to a background check, you can be prosecuted. A violation can be an infraction or a misdemeanor.
Before people can lawfully buy a firearm in Colorado, they must pass a Colorado Bureau of Investigations (C.B.I.) background check. The process includes filling out an application and waiting about twenty minutes for approval (or a rejection).
Once the A.T.F. Form 4473 is filled out, the gun dealer will submit it to the C.B.I. InstaCheck Unit. The C.B.I. will then perform a background check by searching various databases. The background check will typically deliver a yay or nay within 20 minutes.
Note that even private gun purchases in Colorado require a C.B.I. background check through an FFL (federal firearm licensed) dealer. FFLs usually charge a small fee to use their services.
Federal law allows people 18 and older to legally purchase long guns, including this kind of assault weapon. With no criminal record, Cruz cleared an instant background check via the FBI criminal database.
Gun buyers are seldom turned down because of mental illness. From 1998 to 2014, the FBI rejected 16,669 potential gun buyers because a background check found a mental health adjudication, about 1.4% of the roughly 1.2 million background checks that resulted in a denial.
Mental health entered the debate after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. The gunman in that case had been treated at a Virginia hospital on the grounds that he might be a danger to himself or others. He was nonetheless able to pass a background check. After that, a lot of states moved to supply the FBI and their own background check databases with records about people with mental illness.
Background checks are required for all gun purchases through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL), which includes retailers (anyone from Walmart to mom and pop shops) and some individuals. You do not need to undergo a background check if you buy a gun through some private sales. You can check the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to see FFLs in your state. 781b155fdc