An FFL friend noticed something new on the ATF’s NICS portal. Under the Purpose ID section, there are now a variety of classifications for private sales of firearms. And when he signs into the portal he gets the following message regarding transfers between “unlicensed individuals”: . . .
Message Regarding Private Sales
The purpose of this message is to assist Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL) who facilitate the transfer of firearms between unlicensed individuals. On January 16, 2013, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued an open letter to all FFLs regarding the transfer of firearms between unlicensed individuals. This message provides guidance with respect to private sale transfers facilitated by FFLs as unlicensed individuals do not have the ability to use the National Instant Criminal background Check System (NICS) to conduct a background check on a prospective transferee. In addition, several states have state laws which prohibit the transfer of firearms between individuals unless a NICS background check is completed. To obtain a copy of the open letter or obtain more information regarding the transfer of firearms between unlicensed individuals, please copy and paste the link provided into your browser https://www.atf.gov/file/56331/download or visit the ATF Web site at www.atf.gov.
With the possibility of increased transfers involving private sale transactions, the NICS Section would like to provide information regarding the use of the NICS during private sale transfer scenarios. The NICS Section will make the option for the transfer of a private sale firearm available to all FFLs not just FFLs having a state law requiring such. This capability will be available to all FFLs on September 16, 2015.
The FFLs may not be required by state law to process private sale transfers; however if you choose to engage in private sale transfers, please note it will be the responsibility of the FFL to specify the transfer as being connected to a private sale. Below is important information for you to know when conducting a NICS background check for the transfer of a private sale. If you are conducting a NICS background check for the transfer of a private sale firearm via the NICS E-Check, please select private sale of a handgun, private sale of a long gun, private sale other, private sale return to seller handgun, private sale return to seller long gun, or private sale return to seller other in the field titled “Purpose ID (18)”.
If you are conducting a NICS background check for the transfer of a private sale firearm via the contracted call centers, when asked by the call center agent, please identify the “type of transaction” as a private sale.
If you have any questions regarding the information provided, please contact the NICS Business Unit at “NICSLiaison@ic.fbi.gov“.
***Information Regarding New NICS***
The FBI CJIS Division has decided to postpone the July 14, 2015, delivery of Phase 1 of the New NICS. The new delivery date should not occur during peak season because of the potential risk to FFLs, to the public, to our state partners and to the NICS staff. The New NICS team is drafting a new go-live schedule. Until that schedule is finalized, the NICS Section does not have a new date to share with you, but we will advise as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact the NICS Liaison staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please note that you will continue to receive periodical spotlight emails from the NICS Section on the New NICS as this allows us to highlight various aspects of the new system.
The charitable among us will look at this and see the ATF making provisions for FFLs in states that have closed the infamous “gun show loophole” and now require background checks on all private sales. In that case, this is just a regulatory agency catching up on what’s going on out in the real world with characteristic bureaucratic timeliness.
The suspicious among us will look at this and wonder if this isn’t laying the groundwork for a federal action that would require all firearms transfers to be made via the NICS system. Yes, Manchin-Toomey is dead. No, Congress isn’t about to pass a universal background check any time soon, certainly not in an election year. But the commander in chief still has his phone and his pen.
So which one are you…charitable or suspicious?
[h/t Tyler Kee]