The Confusion of the Firearm Background Check
By Bren Brown
Firearm background checks are undoubtedly one of the most contentious and misunderstood things in American politics. Many firearms enthusiasts are smiling and chuckling as new firearms owners are entering the market for the very first time. It’s a bit of poetic justice when you hear newbies complaining about how hard it is to buy a firearm, the hoops you must jump through and the time it takes. Presumably, some of them belong to the groups who have voted in the laws that are in place currently. It seems like justice, but really, it’s just what we have collectively agreed are best practices for firearms purchases. Oh no, I do not include you in that, but the society at large.
At Frontier Justice, we receive mostly all five-star google reviews (thanks to all of you positive people out there who take the time to tell us we are doing a great job). But, occasionally, gasp, we get a one star. We read them all. When I say “we” I mean the entire executive team at Frontier Justice. The one-star reviews center on two things lately—1) we are too busy for their taste and thereby slow (which sometimes erroneously gets translated to rudeness) or 2) they did not get to take their firearm with them after more than an hour of waiting. Because of these one stars, and to just put some general information out there, I decided to let you know how, exactly, the federal firearm background check works because there seems to be a slew of you all that believed the mainstream media, and didn’t even know we ALREADY have a background check in place. (Assuming you have seen the liberal memes exposing how you can buy a firearm easier than a book—which has never made any sense to me no matter how you decide to explain it.)
The National Instant Criminal Background Check is referred to as NICS (spoken as Nicks). In layman’s terms, this is the system that runs a firearm background check. This is a Federal Bureau of Investigation extension that when you purchase a firearm reviews the identifying information you provide via the 4473 (the form given to you to fill out for the purchase of a firearm) subsequently giving you one of three decisions: Proceed, Delay or Deny.
The Three Responses to a Firearm Background Check
Proceed: You may take the firearm that day. Process complete. (This is MO and KS—this varies widely state to state.)
Delay: You will have to wait three days, per the Brady law to get your firearm. NICS has three days to come back with proceed or deny. IF they fail to come back in that timeframe, we can legally release the firearm on the third day, but at Frontier Justice, we like an extra 24-hour window so it is four with us.
Deny: You have been denied the ability to purchase a firearm by the federal government. We have NOTHING to do with this and you can appeal it.
Three Major Background Check Myths
But, before we get to their decisions, let us first dispel some myths.
MYTH ONE: They are keeping your serial number and your firearm in a registry and they “know” you have the firearm you purchased. FACT: They do NOT get all your 4473 information, instead they get the bits of information from the ID you provide (driver’s license, fishing license, etc) and the general make of the firearm you are purchasing (specifically handgun, long gun or other (frame, receiver, etc.). They take the identification and cross-reference you for past or current pending criminal activity/suits. It is a federal law that if you have committed a felony you may NOT purchase a firearm again within designated timeframes ruled by the state. This is part of what they are looking at.
MYTH TWO: A 4473 and firearm background check are foolproof. Mistakes are made, information is hard to gather (especially aged litigation) and it is not a foolproof way to ensure the person purchasing a firearm is not a criminal or does not have criminal intent. And, good luck finding anything foolproof. In fact, it’s been shown that many denied firearm background checks have been overturned because they erroneously flagged someone as an offender.
MYTH THREE: You can just leave with a firearm the day you buy it. In Missouri and KS you can IF you pass the background check with a Proceed immediately. It does not mean you are a criminal or they found anything at all “sketchy” about your record if you get a delay. Sometimes, it is just random.
I, myself, being an FFL holder and having no criminal history whatsoever got a delay on my last firearm purchase a month ago.
So, let’s talk about the last few months during the pandemic, quarantine, and rioting. Because many government offices that NICS cross-references your 4473 with have been closed, the delays that usually say that they can be released in three days were saying they could be released in 28 days. NICS was unable to contact offices they felt important to the evaluation of your 4473 because many offices were closed. It was 28 days because the law states that if you do not get approved on your original background check within 30 days, that a new background check must be completed, and the entire process would begin again. Many big box stores will not ever release a delay unless they get a proceed from NICS. Frontier Justice feels it is every citizen’s right to lawfully own and use a firearm and has chosen to release the delays when the NICS has warranted it lawful. Usually the 3 days plus one day, but during the quarantine the 28 days outlined by law.
Some questions answered—you can call NICS if delayed and ask questions, as there is an 800 number, but you will undoubtedly be told to submit your questions in writing for review. They are not going to tell you on the phone where your request is in the process. Partly because it complicated and partly because in the last three months more firearms have been sold than any other time period in American history. Everyone is spent; systems are congested; supply chains are breaking down. Things are not normal in our world. That said, patriots, rest easy because the whole world who was either on the fence about firearms or flat out against them, just had a change of heart and took up arms for the first time in their lives. And, yes, they are buying classes to go with those and memberships in record numbers. The newbies are responsible, maybe even more so than some of the patriots who buy and buy but never train and train. We are never here to judge no matter what you believe or where you stand in the continuum.
You do you.
It’s your right and it’s our privilege to arm, train, and support each of you in your second amendment right to protect yourselves and your loved ones. Keep training and keep educating the masses because when the second amendment wins, we ALL WIN.