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Reasons NICS Background Checks are Denied or Delayed

Reasons NICS Background Checks are Denied or Delayed

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. The NICS Section is afforded three business days in which to conduct this research. If the NICS Section is unable to provide either a Proceed or Denied response to the Federal Firearms Licensee within three business days, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 does not prohibit the Federal Firearms Licensee, or FFL, from transferring the firearm; however, the FFL is not required to do so.

A federal prohibition would exist for any person who:

  • Has been convicted in any court of 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 an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States or who has been admitted to the United States under a non-immigrant visa
  • 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 partner
  • Has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
  • Is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year

In addition to federally prohibitive criteria, the NICS must delay or deny firearm transfers based on applicable state law.

A delayed transaction will be purged from the NICS within 88 days from creation. The NICS Section recommends that you wait 30 days from the date initiating the check prior to filing an appeal on a delay to give the NICS Section’s staff time to complete the initial transaction. If your original background check is completed, the Federal Firearm Licensee will be notified with a final status.