November 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Brady Act) was
signed into law. The Brady Act requires Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to
request background checks on individuals attempting to receive a firearm. The
permanent provisions of the Brady Act, which went into effect on November 30,
1998, required the United States Attorney General to establish the National
Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) so that any FFL may contact
for information to be supplied immediately as to whether the receipt of a
firearm by a prospective transferee would violate Title 18, United States Code
(U.S.C.), Section 922 (g) or (n) or state law.
Section, located at the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division
in Clarksburg, West Virginia, provides full service to FFLs in 30 states and
five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Upon completion of the
required Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473,
FFLs contact the FBI NICS Section, via a toll-free telephone number or
electronically through the NICS E-Check System via the Internet, to request a
background check with the descriptive information provided on the ATF Form
4473. The NICS is customarily available 17 hours a day, 7 days a week,
including holidays (except for Christmas).
states have agencies acting on behalf of the NICS in a full Point-Of-Contact (POC)
capacity. These POC states, which have agreed to implement and maintain their
own Brady NICS Program, conduct firearm background checks for FFLs'
transactions in their respective states by electronically accessing the NICS.
Upon completion of the required ATF Form 4473, the FFLs conducting business in
the POC states contact a designated state agency to initiate a NICS background
check in lieu of contacting the NICS Section.
Additionally, eight states are currently sharing responsibility with the NICS
Section by acting as partial POCs. Partial-POC states have agencies designated
to conduct checks for handguns and/or handgun permits, while the NICS Section
handles the processing of the states transactions for long gun purchases. The
NICS Participation Map, as illustrated below, depicts each state's level of
participation with the NICS.
information that would exhibit and/or clarify an individuals prohibitive
status pursuant to the Brady Act is vital to the NICS in order to determine
subject eligibility to receive and/or possess a firearm. Records contained
within the databases searched by the NICS include those of the Interstate
Identification Index (e.g., millions of criminal history records), the
National Crime Information Center (e.g., protection orders and active felony
or misdemeanor warrants) and the NICS Index, a database created solely for the
use of the NICS which contains information provided by local, state and
federal agencies pertaining to persons prohibited under federal law from
receiving or possessing a firearm. Additionally, a fourth search of the
applicable databases via the Department of Homeland Security's United States
Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be conducted for background checks
initiated on all non-United States citizens.
federally prohibitive criteria outlining the reasons an individual may be
precluded from the transfer/possession of a firearm or firearm-related permit,
pursuant to Title 18 U.S.C., �� 922 (g) and (n), are as follows:
A person convicted in
any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one
year, whether or not sentence is imposed. This includes misdemeanor offenses
with a potential term of imprisonment in excess of two years, whether or not
sentence was imposed.
Persons who are
fugitives of justice; for example, the subject of an active felony or
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.
A person adjudicated
mental defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institution or
incompetent to handle own affairs, including dispositions to criminal
charges pertaining to found not guilty by reason of insanity or found
incompetent to stand trial.
illegally/unlawfully in the United States or a non-immigrant who does not
qualify for the exceptions under Title 18 U.S.C. Section 922(y); for
example, not have possession of a valid hunting license.
A person dishonorably
discharged from the United States Armed Forces.
A person who has
renounced his/her United States citizenship.
The subject of a
protective order issued after a hearing in which the respondent 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.
A person convicted in
any court of a misdemeanor crime which includes the 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 similarly situated to a spouse, parent or guardian of the victim.
� A person under
indictment or information for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term
exceeding one year.