Delayed Firearm Transaction A Delayed Response Does Not Mean You Are Denied

The following is an explanation of a delay response and the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. A delay response from the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Section indicates that either you or another individual with 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) has been matched with either state prohibitive criteria or one or more of the following federally prohibitive criteria:

A. Persons convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. This includes misdemeanor offenses with a potential term of imprisonment in excess of two years.

B. Persons who are fugitives from justice; for example, the subject of an active felony or misdemeanor warrant. 

C. An unlawful user and/or an addict of any controlled substance; for example, a person convicted for the use or possession of a controlled substance within the past year; or a person with multiple arrests for the use or possession of a controlled substance within the past five years with the most recent arrest occurring within the past year; or a person found through a drug test to use a controlled substance unlawfully, provided the test was administered within the past year.

D. Persons adjudicated as a mental defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institution or deemed incompetent to handle their own affairs, including final dispositions to criminal charges of “found not guilty by reason of insanity” or “found incompetent to stand trial.”

E. An alien illegally/unlawfully in the United States or an alien admitted under a nonimmigrant visa who does not qualify for the exceptions under Title 18, United States Code (U.S.C.), Section 922(y); for example, not possessing a valid hunting license.

F. Persons dishonorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces.

G. Persons who have renounced their United States citizenship.

H. The subject of a protective order, issued after a hearing of which the accused had notice, that restrains them from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such partner. This does not include ex parte orders (orders in which no hearing has been held yet but allegations have been made).

I. Persons convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or persons convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime which has an element of use or attempted use of physical force or threatened use of a deadly weapon and the defendant was the spouse, former spouse, parent, guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited in the past with the victim as a spouse, parent, guardian or similar situation to a spouse, parent or guardian of the victim.

J. Persons under information or indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.

When a delay response is received, this indicates that information supplied on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Form 4473 has been matched with information contained in the National Crime Information Center, the Interstate Identification Index, and/or the NICS Index. Complete information is not always available and a further review of these records is necessary. The NICS exhausts all efforts to retrieve current record information by contacting law enforcement agencies, i.e., local, state, federal, courts, etc. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 allows three business days to obtain this information prior to the transfer of the firearm. The Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) is not prohibited from transferring the firearm after three business days have passed; however, the FFL is not required to transfer the firearm.

The processing time of a delayed transaction is dependent on a wide variety of factors (age of incomplete charge or disposition information, multi-state records,or the availability of information from local and state law enforcement agencies). This process can be very time consuming, especially if records are old and have not been converted to an automated system.

The Privacy Act of 1974 restricts the dissemination of specific information via the telephone. Under the provisions of 28, U.S.C., §§16.30 through 16.34, you can obtain a copy (for a fee) of any identification record the FBI may maintain on you by contacting the following unit at the address and telephone number provided:

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Criminal Justice Information Services Division
Attention: Record Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306

Revised December 2012