By law, the FBI has three days to give a federal firearms licensee (FFL or gun dealer) a yea or nay on a gun purchase. Normally, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System lives up to its name. It’s instant. According to this report by Youngstown, Ohio’s WKBN.com the Fibbies are falling behind.

A delay in the purchasing process has been occurring for about a week.

Gun stores have noticed the delay after filling out the federal forms and calling in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

“We had customers in here waiting an hour to three hours. Some of them, we said, ‘Hey, we’ll call you when we hear. There’s nothing we can do,’” said Lee Sredniawa, manager at Fin Feather Fur Outfitters.

As bad as this is — a right delayed is a right denied no matter how long the delay — it could be worse if Democratic presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton has her way. She has declared her intention to “close the Charleston loophole.” She wants firearms sales delayed as long as it takes to get an FBI determination. In other words, no deadline.

That change would require a modification to existing law, which only Congress could do. Unless Ms. Clinton thinks an [illegal] executive order of some kind could withstand Congressional blowback. Is that possible? That depends on your definition of “is.”

Meanwhile, any readers experiencing NICS delays?

60 Responses to National Instant Criminal Background Check System Not So Instant

  1. No, but in Georgia a state issue Weapons License (AKA CCW) is a get out of BS ticket and the last time I bought a gun on a Saturday the NICS system was down, so only folks with a license could make their purchase and leave with it.

    • Same with a Texas LTC, although it took them close to 2 months to turn mine around back when I applied so I guess the waiting was all just front loaded.

      • Texas DPS also checks with local authorities as part of their original background check during the LTC (formerly CHL) application process. Local authorities just check their own computers and paper files for disqualifying factors, but that adds some time to the process beyond the FBI NICS check.

    • It’s why I got my chl in Oregon. Carry permits are going to turn into an upper class style background check. It already is here. We are p.o.c state and I may get flack for this but I’m glad we are. I don’t trust a NICs system or the FBI. The way to run background checks is by state police. Keep the feds out of our business. I have had nothing but good experiences with osp. Before my chl I was buying so much the second my name was up it was instant approval. I hear with a chl you bump people on the waiting list so it was a no brainer.

      What is proof of Democrats mental defectiveness is last month when goofy lol Kate brown ordered osp to keep records for 5 years. Osp uses what they call a fics system. In it they communicate with the FBI. They know what I have. But no…gotta add more redundant gun control.

      Again I may get flack from people who don’t like osp but I respect them. They get asked to do a lot while under staffed. FBI has no reason to delay people. Its on purpose.

    • Actually same with Ohio now. A CHL is now considered your background check as long as it was issued after 3/25/15

      • Except most FFLs in the Central Ohio area still insist on calling NICS. They say that since you CHL was issued you could have done something to disable your right.

        I’ve had this told to me on at least 2 purchases and many other occasions whilst shopping.

        So good luck finding an Ohio FFL who will do a purchase on your CHL. (concealed handgun license).

        • “They say that since you CHL was issued you could have done something to disable your right.”

          That’s when you tell them if that were the case, your license would have been revoked and confiscated the moment you did something to become a prohibited person.

          That type of idiocy doesn’t surprise me in the Columbus area.

      • They do do the NICS check still in WA, even if you have a CPL; it just exempts you from the local police taking their time not-really-a-waiting-period-but-it-is-used-that way thing in state law.

  2. I bought a gun less than a month ago and suffered no delay. It was as instant as any other instant check. Actually, there are two checks in MA — the NICS and MA’s own system — and neither one was delayed.

    But this problem seems to have just started. I expect to be buying something shortly, and we will see what we see.

    I always expect the worst from the FBI. To them, we are all Vicki Weaver.

  3. Originally from Youngstown, and still in the NE Ohio area. Fin Feather Fur is BY FAR the best big box gun store I’ve ever experienced. Super friendly, available, and helpful staff with low prices. They are an example how a gun / outdoors store should be run.

  4. Since California has a ten day wait, it really doesn’t matter. However, if WILL matter if Gavin Newsome’s “Safety for All” ammo initiative petition passes, as that proposal calls for a NICS check at the time of purchase of ammo. The only “silver” (or is it fool’s gold?) lining is that that bill will not go into effect, if passed by the voters, until 1/1/18, which should be long enough for the pre-election surge to pass and/or the Fibbies to upgrade their systems (or for President Clinton to put a monkey wrench into the works so that no one who needs a NICS gets anything).

    • Simple. It says at the very last second when signing up, that the nics gets full access to your servers. Ya, not going to happen

      • My FFL has a laptop he uses to finger puck my info in, goes into bit bucket heaven with my finger prints, various 15 year background check and reviews done for too times to worry about a silly NCIC. The criminals that have my PII from most likely a bank server breach used it in ID fraud (also as a precaution filed the paperwork with the FBI VOLUNTARY APPEAL FILE (VAF) ) they are more scary than black helos and SUV’s circling my secret underground bunker is middle of, that was close, also said Potwin Kansas.

        FYI, the FBI’s NCIC call center is not staffed by GS or WG’s it’s staffed by contractors…. Here is my shocked face 😐

        https://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2009/02/05/csc-to-manage-fbi-call-center.aspx

    • Ya. Enter all your personal info and gun purchase info into a computer data base (and with your freaking THUMBPRINT) and transmit it EVERYWHERE. So hip and high-tech. Trust the ATF will “delete” it later.

      or

      Fill out a piece of paper for the file cabinet at your local FFL dealer?

      Let me think.

  5. With NC CCW, no wait at all–not that easy to get, but good in 39 states, even DE–done & out in 5 minutes

    • Your carry licence will let you carry in states with which yours has reciprocity, but that doesn’t mean you may buy a gun in all of these other states.

      You cannot legally buy a handgun, directly, outside of your state of residence. That transaction would have to go through an FFL back in your home state.

      You may buy a rifle or shotgun, directly, outside of your state, from a federal standpoint. However, your state may impose its own restrictions on its own residents’ in-person out of state purchases. For example, a Texas resident may only buy, in-person, a long gun from a state bordering Texas.

      None of this has anything to do with having a license to carry, though.

  6. My name is one that must trigger something, because here in Massachusetts I have never had an INSTANT background check, I have had to wait the 3 buissness days not including the date of sale, so it’s usually 4-5 days EVERY time I have bought a gun from a dealer. I now usually only do face to face as in Massachusetts there is no background check for that… Yet.
    If they take away the 3 day then sell clause, I may be waiting weeks or months each time I buy a gun. Unacceptable!

  7. Been delayed only by a few minutes recently. However had a “hold” put on me a few years back during multiple purchases over a short period of time. I was given a phone number and since There was zero reason for a “hold” ended up talking to the Southeastern Regional Director of the FBI of all agencies, a very nice woman by the way.

    She was professional and polite, as was I, and asked for my SS# and DOB. Pulled me up and said I see no reason for a hold.

    Within 3 hours my FFL called me and said come get it. The FFL said he sees these from time to time with 90% getting approved.

    Still think it’s rigged.

  8. I haven’t bought a gun in months so I wouldn’t know.

    Here in Colorado it usually takes about 30 minutes because they go through NICS but also through the CBI and the CBI takes it’s sweet time processing background checks. (One time I waited at a gun show with a buddy for six hours.)

    I find that annoying. When I bought guns in New Mexico they made a phone call and generally speaking it took them about 2-4x as long to do the BGC as it did to process my credit card. Really the longest time I spent in the store was browsing/deciding what I wanted to buy.

    • I picked up one last Thursday? Yeah Thursday. Wife went too and got one. Took about 30 min. 10:30 am on a weekday. I’ve been backed up as far as 8 hrs, and did one super bowl Sunday that took 28sec. Only people in CBI that day were me and the other guy. (We traded basically) It really depends on how CBI feels that day. Normal wait time for me is around 10 min though.

      • It’s all annoying. During the peak backlog period of the Colorado system a couple of years back, I waited almost three weeks for one to clear.

      • Tell that to Cabela’s or BPS. When I buy a gun from them I go have lunch in their restaurant while I’m waiting for that buzzer thing to go off.

        The longest I’ve ever waited was during the rush before the new gun laws. I got the wife a Ruger Gunsight Scout from Gander Mountain in Aurora. That took five days because of number of checks going on. (You might remember the NRA actually had to threaten to sue the CBI before they got their ass in gear.) The last time I bought a gun at a gun show it was a NIB Springfield M1A on a killer deal, the guy who sold it to me asked me to wait for a minute and went over to the little area where those people enter the information into a laptop. He came back and informed me that the wait time was nearly 10 hours but that he wasn’t going to make me wait that long.

        He got my cell phone number and actually left and went to his store in Westminster to run the BGC and then came back and gave me the rifle. At that point I asked how he could get it done faster and he informed me that the CBI intentionally wait lists the gunshow sales (politics I guess?).

        The CBI can go fuck itself.

  9. Here in Washington, family run sporting goods store. If no further review required, it goes right through. If it needs further review, if you’re lucky, an hour and a half. If not, 3 to 6. Been about a week of that.

  10. I just enrolled in NICS as a new FFL. Was supposed to happen in 1 hour. When it didnt I called in and waited 90 mins on hold to be told they were having system issues due to a recent changeover. My enrollment email arrived 2+ days later. Seems like some kind of technical issue but i guess who knows anymore. I was thinking about setting up my own server in the basement to do background checks anyway.

  11. “Unless Ms. Clinton thinks an [illegal] executive order of some kind could withstand Congressional blowback.”

    Congressional blowback? Bwa, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!!

    Congress will do precisely squat just like they did when Obama and Holder never responded to Congress’ subpoena. Unless the Tyrant in Chief at the White House murders a prostitute in broad daylight in front of a dozen television news cameras, Congress will not do anything.

    More importantly, what can Congress do from a Constitutional perspective? Tell the President that he/she is in contempt of Congress? So what. Start impeachment? Even if Congress impeached the President and found him/her guilty, who is going to force him/her from office? The Attorney General who reports to the President? The FBI who reports to the President? A military general who reports to the President?

  12. I think we could anticipate her going the “mafia” route, which is already being used by more than one regulatory agency to enforce rules that aren’t even according-to-Hoyle rules, let alone authorized by statute. It goes something like “We’re not telling you that you have to do X, we’re just saying it would be a shame if something were to happen to your license renewal…”

    • Along the same lines, the agency can deny your license and force you to sue them for renewal. Aside from the tens of thousands of dollars in court and attorney’s fees your lawsuit will require, your business will probably be ruined if you halt operations while waiting for a favorable disposition of your lawsuit.

      This would be a simple application of, “The process is the punishment.”

  13. Yes. On 8/4 I was “delayed.” On 8/10 (three full business day’s later) there was still no resolution. I am usually delayed, no idea why. I have file VAF’s repeatedly.

    Bass Pro sold me the gun anyway.

  14. i just had a 54 day wait to purchase here in the peoples republik of kaliforniastan.

    fill out 4473 and a 10 day cooling off period

    30 day delay – not a damn thing to say or do, i called the KA DOJ, they said ‘there is no mistake, and i cannot and will not talk to you… results came back ‘undetermined – dealer may release firearm’

    dealer will not release firearm

    another 4473 and another 10 day cooling off period

    came back ok

    54 days in all and 2 sets of 4473 fees. talk about a right delayed

  15. Oh great. Buying next week but here in Illinoisistan 3 daze is normal and 1day for rifles/shotguns. Never had any problems when I bought a few years ago…

  16. Food for thought:

    What if the executive branch agency responsible for background checks purposely sabotages the NICS … which could be as simple as only allocating one staff person to answer phones two hours per day? What is our feckless Congress going to do about it? Say harsh words while wagging a finger? Oohhh, I’ll bet all the people in that executive branch agency are shaking in their boots. Or not.

    • Here’s a little more food for thought:

      Let’s dangle a tasty treat in front of their noses – Offer to trade the ‘Charleston Loophole’ NICS check (And ONLY that check, NOT private sale check) in exchange for 50 state carry reciprocity…

      • That would require an honest-to-goodness compromise … which will never happen. Instead, Progressives will tell us that we should accept the “Charleston loophole” because the Progressives really wanted universal background checks.

  17. I have just enough of a history that i always trigger a delay. I usually get called back with a proceed in one to two days. However I purchased a rifle yesterday on a whim and forewarned them while filling out the paperwork that I would be back to pick it when the proceed came through. Five minutes later it comes back proceed. I asked them what happened. They said the system has been undergoind some upgrade the past week thats made all the checks nightmarish but that it had just cleared up. Not that i trust anyone involved but perhaps its all just software migration hiccups.

    Of course in the interest of science i went online and ordered another test.

  18. I work at a gun store/range in Indiana. Every NICS call has led to at least an hour on hold, even longer for, “further review”, checks. I’ve noticed that this has started after NICS changed the format of their NTN’s earlier last week.

  19. Here in KS, at least, having a valid CCW means they don’t have to call in the purchase after you’ve filled out the forms. I’ve actually only once had to sit through a check, when I bought my very first gun before I had a CCW. Which was at a gun show. Imagine that–a background check at a gun show. Scandal. Every dealer I’ve bought from has given me a discount for the added convenience to both me and them. But my main dealer has told me stories of being on hold for three hours waiting for a check to go through, and that wasn’t even recently. So I’m sure it’s still happening.

  20. Yeah. I bought my Glock 19 about a year ago. I don’t buy guns very often, it’s actually only my second gun purchase. But the shop just told me that the NICS system was down again and told me that they would call me when it was working. I spent about 3 hours in that town and was ready to go home when they called me and told me it went through.

  21. Yes, son works at a gun range/store. They have been having problems. Only LTC got to walk out with guns one day this weekend.

    One of the big chains is having a pretty good sale on a gun I’ve been wanting. Got approved by NICS, but it was a little slow. Not quite as slow as the employees discussing when lunch was gonna happen. It will have to be a much better sale before I buy there again.

  22. And people think this is reasonable to ask the government permission like a slave to excercise your rights while violating the 4th amendment too.

  23. NICS is a joke, the government has set up a system through NCIC and each states crime informaton center that is usually instantanoous and has pretty a curate information on warrants and other alerts.
    Yet NICS can take days if not weeks and not even provide complete or accurate info.

  24. I think this became law last year, but all NICS checks in the state of NJ can no longer be called in over the phone. They have to be done over some E system on the computer. I had no idea this happened and got a bit annoyed when I thought the clerk was just taking his sweet time picking up the phone. Never thought I’d find a single shot Springfield .22 from the 1930’s for $90 in excellent shape, but I lucked out.

  25. I have a FFL.
    Long hold times come in spurts, usually at high demand times, such as weekends.
    The FBI NICS did a major computer upgrade this past week. We purposely did not do any transfers on the first day of the upgrade. We also almost always do the checks over the phone. I think that the new system is a tad faster, although I’ve read that some of the electronic checks have been taking longer.
    Bottom line : although the background check is likely unconstitutional, the actual NICS system is working as well as can be expected for a bureaucracy.

  26. Virginia doesn’t use NICS for the check. We are a partner state and our checks are performed by a state system which downloads the NICS database nightly and combines that with the state database maintained by the state police. Never experienced any delays.

  27. SC CWP = no NICS.
    But then I’ve taken to building my ARs from 80% lowers.
    Last thing I bought from a FFL (yesterday) was a stripped Spikes Tactical lower.
    No NICS, of course.
    Easier to start with that for my SBR build than do another 80% lower.

  28. The State of Florida does not go through the FBI’s NICS system. States are allowed to have their own background system in place. Here is it done by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Firearms Purchase Program.

    The FFL eithers calls or goes through FDLE’s background system. FPP does a check through Local, FCIC, and NCIC. At no point is the FBI brought in. Also the State charges a $5.00 fee to the dealer, who in turns charges $5.00 to the buyer.

    A Florida CCW does not waive the background because the agency that issues them is not a sworn law enforcement agency with 24 hour access to FCIC/NCIC. FL CCWs are issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Division of Licensing. They are an administrative agency with no law enforcement authority or power. When they do the background check for CCW applications; they forward that information to FDLE and they run the criminal background.

    The only thing a FL CCW waives is the waiting period. Under Florida law, all counties are allowed to have a maximum of 5 day wait on all sales. But only Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach really do the max. The rest of the state does the State Law of 3 days for a handgun and zero for a long gun. But with a CCW it is fill out the 4473, have the FDLE FPP Check done, and walk out.

  29. I’m receiving daily emails, sometimes several in one day, about the NICS system status.

    I love having a spectator’s view into the government developing large software systems – regardless of whether it is Obamacare’s laughably incompetent website, or NICS.

  30. In Virginia – delayed over night this past Tuesday.
    Called in about 7:45 and told it would be a few minutes – didn’t here back until after noon the next day.

  31. I have had a security clearance, multiple federal level background investigations, once supplemented the family detail in protecting a U.S. President, provided personnel protection to the Army Chief of staff, handled plenty of classified materials, investigated crimes in the United States and Europe and controlled every surveillance and intrusion detection system at the underground command center at Raven Rock Mountain. I was a credentialed Army investigator, a commissioned civilian officer and conducted security assessment of sensitive and vulnerable U.S. sites and facilities in Europe. I carried concealed and unconcealed weapons through the thick of it. For years I purchased firearms without issue until one day I got a denial at a gun show. Within a couple of days I had submitted my packet for a UPIN and VAF file. It took a while, but I got my UPIN and a letter explaining that they had found a record that matched me, but it was not prohibitive. I was never told what agency had the record or what the record was even though the FBI tells you that they will inform you of the record and the agency involved. One I got my VAF file I had no issues for years and then the FBI switched over to the online submittal for purchase approvals. All of a sudden I started getting random delays up to a week, even though I have no felonies or misdemeanors other than traffic offenses.

    Thinking that if I was going through this baloney I could only imagine what others might be experiencing I started making phone calls and learned that if the online system goes down it can take days for the cues to be reduced and system manageable. Any situation creating a load in the processing cue can put the entire works of process firearms purchase requests on tilt.

    I also learned that when a UPIN number is keyed in for processing the system is supposed to divert your request so that the VAF file (separate) database may be accessed for a proceed response (assuming nothing new and nasty comes along). However, if anything gets screwed up your request gets kicked to the normal cue for processing and you end up confronting the same record(s) that ’caused you to get the VAF file to begin with. So you get a delay and if things are really screwed up you can even get a denial – even if you purchased a firearm the day before and got a proceed or walk down the street to the next gun shop and get an immediate proceed. It should be noted that I have verified that you MAY process a second 4473 even while one is pending response/investigation involving NCIS. I have personally done this at the same store and gotten a proceed within a fews minutes of it being keyed while my first request was pending investigation as delayed.

    The problems go way beyond the embarrassment and inconvenience. This NICS system is another bureaucratic brilliant idea that congress created, but doesn’t provide the funding to properly maintain the system. It is a perfect design to deny and delay honest citizens from exercising their constitutional rights while providing excuses for it’s failure to function properly – excuses that would never fly if the shoe was on the other foot. Unfortunately the system is such that everything is designed to refuse your access to a firearm even though there is no real justification for your delay or denial. In the mean time some nut job is out on the street buying a gun illegally so he can shoot up the neighborhood this weekend.

    The worst part of this system is the FBI will not provide information that is useful to victims of this monster. The hypocrisy in all this is they have no problem identifying you when you put your social security number on that 4473 form, but can’t give you information if you provide identifying information over the phone. Just how long would investigative agencies last if they could not talk about you on the phone when conducting an investigation?

    Uncle Sam should farm this NICS thing out to a contractor. It seems that the only time our government demands standards and accountability is when it involves anything except the government. NICS is a mess, just like the VA is a mess, because the government just can’t bring itself to force the thing be ran properly and maintained when bureaucrats are at the helm. As long as we continue to pay the bills for a system that creates this kind of frustration we will also continue to pay millions of tax dollars for lame excuses.

  32. Currently on a 1.5 week(and counting delay in Texas)….also got delayed a week or 2 a few years ago while buying a shotgun. I’m seriously thinking about applying for a UPIN after this.

    I read quite a bit about people getting a delay with one check and while it’s pending getting another check approved; might just have to try that too.

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