NICS Specialist Prevents Sale of Firearms to Prohibited Person

Launched by the FBI on November 30, 1998, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms.

A National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) liaison specialist working the NICS E-Check transfer process was recently instrumental in preventing a prohibited person from obtaining three firearms. This incident demonstrates how quickly an individual’s eligibility to purchase a firearm can change.

On November 8, 2017, the specialist screened a background check request for a person who had a criminal history record, which included an arrest on October 30 for the felony offenses of possession of methamphetamines and possession of firearm or knife during certain crimes, as well as a misdemeanor possession of marijuana offense. While researching the case, the specialist discovered two prior NICS transactions belonging to the same individual: one on October 28, which had been approved on November 1, and another on November 8, which was in “delay” status.

Upon further examination, the NICS liaison specialist discovered that the Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL)—the gun dealer—from the attempted purchase on October 28 had not yet retrieved the “proceed” status from NICS. This meant there was a possibility the FFL had not yet transferred the firearm to the purchaser. A firearm was involved in the October 30 arrest, so the specialist requested the incident report from the arresting agency. Within minutes, the specialist received the report, which showed that the individual had admitted to arresting officers that he was illegally in possession of marijuana in his vehicle. That documented admission prohibited him from purchasing or possessing a firearm, effective October 30.

The NICS liaison specialist changed the November 1 transaction status from “proceed” to “deny” to reflect the purchaser’s new status. The specialist spoke to the FFL from the October 28 background check request and learned that the FFL had not yet transferred the firearm to the individual. Consequently, the specialist updated the individual’s two additional transactions, which were initiated on November 8, resulting in a “deny” status for all three transactions.

The NICS liaison specialist entered the individual into the NICS Indices, formerly known as the NICS Index, based upon the individual’s admitted illegal possession of marijuana in his vehicle. As long as the individual’s information remains in the NICS Indices, he will automatically be denied purchase of a firearm upon future attempts.