Delays In Firearm Background Checks-Requests Up 300 Percent

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As our nation continues to navigate its response to the COVID-19, we recognize the firearm industry, like many other industries, is being impacted. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is aware of delays within the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) System.

“We want you to know the FBI is on the job and working diligently to address the dramatic response and increase in background checks experienced over the past few days. Just yesterday, Monday, March 16, 2020, the NICS staff experienced over a 300 percent increase compared to this same time period in 2019. As we’ve seen in the past with other national events, our citizens often seek to exercise their Second Amendment rights during times of uncertainty. Therefore transparent communication remains a top priority.”


According to NICS, there are delays in the system due to an astronomical volume of transactions over the last several days. While much of the NICS System is automated and yields an immediate “proceed” or “deny” determination, transactions that result in a delayed status require the work of NICS examiners to investigate whether the transaction should be approved or not. With daily volumes roughly double that of last year, the NICS team is unable to begin investigations on all delays within three business days, creating a backlog in the delayed checks.

Some state offices and agencies are considering options to protect the health and safety of their employees, which may include a reduction in staff or a temporary closure. If you operate in one of these areas and if you receive a delayed response from the NICS, please note the Brady transfer date provided to you by the FBI could be extended beyond the normal three business days. The three business day timeframe does not begin until relevant state offices are open for business. Additionally, because of the dramatic increase in volume, it is important to recognize FBI staff may not be able to begin their research on delayed transactions as they normally would. Therefore, you may want to consider waiting on a definitive response from the NICS before opting to proceed with a sale on any delayed transaction. We are operating during exceptional and uncertain times, so you may wish to consider implementing temporary changes in order to safeguard yourself and your business. However, please note that when state offices are closed it does not constitute a “business day” for purposes of calculating the “three business days” period before an FFL may transfer a firearm to a non-licensee as mandated by the Brady Act.

The NICS Section is working overtime to get through the backlog and we appreciate their hard work and open communication. NSSF will continue to communicate with NICS and our members to ensure operations move forward as smoothly as possible during this period.

Source: National Shooting Sports Foundation

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1 Comment

  1. Jessica says:

    I purchased my gun Saturday March 21st, 2020 and am still showing in a delayed status. It’s been over 10 years since purchasing a gun, but they kept telling me maybe tomorrow already aware of these crazy delays. I read during times of crisis and laws written in those cases, the 3 NICS business days remain the same and upon filling out the proper form the FFL can release the gun after that 3rd business day. I’m being told to just wait until they call. But it doesn’t seem they are fully aware of the emergency laws because their shop is so busy selling more and more guns and Ammo, instead of staying on top of the rules and guidelines. I’m being told April 15th, 2020 is when it can be released. During the county shutdowns the shop wasn’t even aware gun shops are considered an essential so they stayed open until midnight trying to sell as much as possible, saying they are just worried if they will be allowed to open their doors the next day. Seems chaotic but in my shoes, I pay $1300 and walk away with bullets and clips and told to hold my breath on my gun, then being unaware of the actual federal and state emergency laws I looked into is making things so much more chaotic in sales it’s ridiculous. That’s prob why NICS is way backlogged not being 100% clear on issues at hand and how to work through them. It’s a simple form filled out and submitted and it seems the shops are too busy to even consider other avenues.

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