"Deandra Smith arrested April 11, 2013, was booked in Little Rock. In Little Rock, Smith, already facing charges of shooting into a crowded nightclub, managed to buy at least four guns from a local pawn shop because a warrant for his arrest had never been reported to state or federal fugitive databases. "Without that, it wouldn't matter how many checks you ran," his lawyer, David Cannon, said." (Caption USA Today, Photo: US Marshal's Office)

“Despite years of attempts to shore up the government’s National Instant Background Check System (NICS), enormous gaps remain, particularly when it comes to identifying fugitives,” usatoday.com reports. “In five states alone, law enforcement agencies failed to provide information to the FBI about at least 2.5 million outstanding arrest warrants, police and court records show. Among them are tens of thousands of people wanted for violent offenses and other felonies.” Like the gentleman above. Of course, no one wants fugitives to be able to buy guns! So let’s spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fix NICS. And, while we’re at it, make sure that anyone who’s been committed to a hospital for mental illness is also in the federal registry. Either that or . . . dump the system as unworkable and unconstitutional. I know it’ll never happen. But should it?

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72 Responses to Question of the Day: Nix NICS?

  1. It really shocks me as to how the fact that an unknown number, probably in the thousands at least, of people are UNABLE to receive care that they desperately want or need for the fear they will get on this list or worse. I personally have been to a doctor who I refuse to go back to because he made me very uncomfortable after I told him I wanted medication for depression.

    The fact that this gun stigma seems to be ever increasing is very foreboding imho,

    • It seems to me that anyone who knows that he has depression and seeks medical help for it is acting responsibly, maturely and sanely. Why deny him the ability to defend himself? If it’s for his own safety, then he must also be denied access to trains, automobiles and tall buildings.

    • When I was younger (but still of gun owning age) I went to a doctor for depression. They asked me a lot of questions, including thoughts about suicide, but guns never once came up in the conversation. This was an absolute maximum of 10 years ago. Either things have changed drastically or someone is going to the wrong doctor.

      • Honestly man, I dont know for sure. Id like to think that its not the norm, and this was my 3rd visit with that doctor and I couldnt say for sure about others.

        • Hell, NC doesn’t even have NICS. You have to go to the sheriff in person and pay him for a background check, which is actually a leftover jim crow law that was used just in case a black man had a “white” sounding name. Some sheriffs require you live in the county for at least a year, have 5 or 6 non-family members vouch for you, and if you have seen a doctor for depression/anxiety or a psychiatrist for marriage counseling, then you are SOL. Sounds kinda like the Northeast, huh?

  2. Yes please. The system is broken. One day I purchased a mosin, got a delay and had to wait 5 days. Same day I went to another location to have a handgun transferred to me. Check instantly was a proceed. I’m currently on day one for a wait on a k kale Mauser, but I doubt NICs will be timely.

  3. If the e-verify system had the number of false positives that NICS has, there would be hearings in both Houses of Congress and national outrage. NICS? Not so much.

  4. Here are what I think are major flaws with NICS:

    a) Denial should be ONLY for a violent criminal conviction — not a tax felony or stealing pens from the post office. “Could Have” been sentenced to 1 year (but fined $50.) is a VERY low threshold designed to disarm anyone with any kind of run-in with the police. (like urban black population)

    b) No real grievance process beyond mis-identification — so if your name is Charles Manson — you can complain about your denial — but otherwise unreasonable denials are not really addressable.

    c) NO statute of limitations — OK so you did something bad when you were 20 years old — do you need to be denied when you are 70 ?

    • On the face, I agree with your points. However, with regard to your first point, it occurs to me that the only way they got Al Capone was through a charge of tax evasion. He was undeniably a bad guy, but a slippery one. Times are different now, and with modern technology and techniques things might be different with regard to pinning him down. But it’s something to think about.

      • Oh come on – these days you can be a fully-documented anyone in a few days if you have cash and know who to give it to.

      • You’re talking of creating laws deliberately to entrap people you don’t like. If that was the only way they could jail Capone, he should have stayed free. Selective enforcement is not something we EVER want!

      • And something nobody mentions is that Al Capone and his associates weren’t bad people at all – they were targeted by the Establishment for the “crime” of selling a product that people want, but that Big Brother doesn’t want you to have. For The Children™.

        • Al Capone and his associates weren’t bad people at all…

          Uh huh. It’s all the government’s fault. Give me a fucking break, and save your Libertarian Loon “kept down by the man” bullshit.

          Did the government make him (and his associates) get into machine gun battles with his competitors in the alcohol trade? Earlier than that, he was suspected of perpetrating at least a couple murders personally. Even earlier than that, he dropped out of school at 14 or 15 (or was expelled, I can’t remember) and entered the gang world. Irrespective of his prohibition-era bootlegging, he was a thug and a gangster and a sociopath, an all-around bad guy, and the fact that the only thing they ever hung on him was the tax evasion was a testament to his intelligence, not his innocence.

          Referring to Capone and his associates as “not bad people at all” makes anything else that follows it completely lacking in credibility. Nobody “mentions it” because it’s simply not true. That version of reality exists only in your head.

          Nevertheless, I started my original comment saying that I agreed with the point about tax felons, but I just thought that the Capone thing made for an interesting point of conversation.

        • “Did the government make him (and his associates) get into machine gun battles with his competitors in the alcohol trade? ”

          No, the government STARTED the machine gun battles. If not for prohibition, there never would have been any battles.

        • Poppycock. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was 3-4 gangsters shooting seven other gangsters with machine guns, and the only cops involved were the fake ones (other gangsters) who showed up to haul the shooters away so the neighbors would think justice was being done and not call the real cops.

          If it wasn’t over alcohol, it would have been over prostitution, or heroin, or some other criminal enterprise. Stop making apologies for one of (some of) the least deserving people in American history.

        • “If it wasn’t over alcohol, it would have been over prostitution, or heroin, or some other criminal enterprisevictimless crime that never should have been criminalized in the first place. ”

          There. Fixed it for you.

        • If all Capone did was smuggle and sell booze, you’d be correct. But he used violence to protect his business. That makes him a very bad guy.

        • “But he used violence to protect his business.”

          He was protecting himself from the violence initiated by the prohibitionists under color of authority.

          Geez, if you people can’t see that, then I guess our fight for Liberty has a lot longer of a way to go than I had thought.

        • The dude was involved in gangs, gambling, prostitution, and racketeering before Prohibition ever even started. Which part of the government was he protecting himself from at that point, exactly? Or how about when he allegedly murdered Big Jim Colosimo so his buddy Johnny Torrio could take over Colosimo’s territory. That actualy did happen during prohibition, so I suppose that murder is the government’s fault, too, by your definition.

          Let’s not forget that the authorities geared up to machine guns only after finding out that their standard sidearm revolver wasn’t enough when going up against the gangs who were already armed with machine guns at that point.

          Saying “none of it would have happened if not for the passage of Prohibition” is reductio ad absurdum. Factually, it might be correct in the strictest sense, but as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, if Capone wasn’t a bootlegging crook, he’d still have been a prostitution crook, and a gambling crook, and a racketeering crook, and a bribery crook, and a protection scam crook, and, and, and…

          The dude was a crook, from beginning to end and at all points in between, and if you can’t see that, well, you’re even less constrained to reality than your previous comments have led me to believe.

        • “The dude was involved in gangs, gambling, prostitution, and racketeering before Prohibition ever even started.”

          All of which are victimless crimes, which if they had never been criminalized, none of the violence would have ever taken place. “Gangs,” which is not only not a crime, is only the result of the war on harmless behavior that Big Brother disapproves of.

          There is no Enumerated Power authorizing the prohibition of gambling or prostitution, and “racketeering” is a strawman here, since, like “gangs,” it’s an artificial result of the prohibition and really nothing but a boogeyman scare-word meaning “fraud,” which is properly handled with other kinds of laws anyway.

        • The truth is, we probably cannot know what would’ve happened with Capone absent Prohibition. As such and the fact that I’m no history scholar on the matter, I give the man benefit of doubt. Prohibition was unconstitutional and his rights were being violated. He responded to government violence with violence of his own. I probably would have done the same. Unless Capone was a verifiable sociopath, he would only have chosen violence when he saw few other viable options.

          Geez, if you people can’t see that, then I guess our fight for Liberty has a lot longer of a way to go than I had thought.

          I’m taken back that you didn’t realize the above reality before. Liberty is hanging by its last thread. Much talk of successes in taking back freedom has been centered around exchanging rights for privileges. People pontificate how this or that is okay and they support rights but they don’t think these or those are okay. They can’t simply support the right, warts and all. Liberty is a scary thing with too much work involved so they rationalize and believe that they can “reason” a middle route. When they can’t support the hypocrisy of their own words, they often insult. Liberty doesn’t lend itself very well to middle of the road. Everyone seems to have their own opinion on “reasonable” and that opinion is somehow all the more important than the basic tenets of rights, at least in their own minds and words.

          The statist, both conservative and liberal, will strangle Liberty in this nation until either there is bloody conflict or the light of individual freedom is snuffed out. We indeed have a very long way to go and we must travel that distance in our own respective lifespans. We will not win a war of baby steps. It’s leaps and bounds or Liberty loses in the end.

    • I would not restore gun rights to nonviolent felons who have not made full restitution to any people they nonviolently harmed. How many felons have made full restitution? Offhand, I’d say none. The felon steals, the state demonstrates its mighty power by sending the wrongdoer away, and the victims are left to rot.

      • And the criminal does not need his gun rights restored anyway. Lots of people go through their entire lives without firearms and have no problem. Why restore them? And, if you decide restoration is a good plan, drop the political decision making process, and if you release him from jail, his rights are thereby restored.

    • Why is it always this same issue?

      Yes, known violent felons scare me, but is there ANY piece of legislation that will do anything other than make them get the weapons they want on the black market? No.

      Some percentage of people will go bonkers and use firearms to shoot other people. Is there any legislation that will prevent them from buying or owning firearms BEFORE they snap? No. But barring people under routine care for mental issues will prevent many thousands of otherwise harmless citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

      And all of that aside, there is no portion of “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” that authorizes or even condones, and in fact outright prohibits the government from compiling, maintaining and enforcing a list of persons who in the opinion of the government are not allowed to exercise their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. To allow the government that authority is the exact OPPOSITE of the purpose of the Second Amendment, and to advocate that such government infringement is okay by you because felons and crazy people with guns frighten you is to state categorically that you do NOT support the Second Amendment.

      If that is in fact your position, at least be willing to state it honestly. Isn’t it bad enough the anti-2A people love to state, “I support the Second Amendment, but…”?

  5. In order to fix it we need to have a National list. You just look up the person on the list and if they are on it, you don’t sell. No submital form, an easy open system. As easy as Google.

    I don’t see how that could infringe on the rights of those whose names are already published in the police reports section. The mentally disturbed… well… if the are committed, why isn’t that public knowledge as well? If they are truley such a menace as to be involuntarily comitted, then it should be public knoweledge. Or don’t comit them.

    • You have an amazing amount of faith in the concept of human error NOT happening. Must be nice to be someone who hasn’t ever been inaccurately accused of something, or who hasn’t accidentally checked the wrong box in column “a” or “b”. I sell guns for a living and the number of people I have to babysit while they fill out the 4473’s because they hyuck hyuck “didn’t read” the paper they were signing and filling out is pretty amazing. So, your solution of just checking a “list” is totally asinine because of the fact that human error happens all the way up to the top of the ladder, and people should not be rejected their rights because some dumbass “accidentally” checked the wrong box….. whoops.
      I think I saw that type of reasoning with cops recently shooting the wrong people… whoops. Good thing they were on a list! Whom to the rest of us didn’t matter, cause it wasn’t our lives that were ruined, or ended.

    • Plus, you have the question then of who puts names on that list? That group would have a tremendous amount of power, and I can pretty much guarantee that they would abuse it.

    • Well, that would probably work as well as the No Fly List. You know, the one you don’t know you’re on until you have to take the bus across country because your name was erroneously put on the list and the Blue Glove Patrol won’t let you get on the plane.

      To date the list has prevented zilch and exactly ONE person has been removed, only after INTENSE media shaming.

    • Here’s an idea Jesse: Google your own name and see what comes up.

      You’d be amazed at the amount of odd and unsubstantiated stuff that winds up on the Internet, totally unedited and unsupervised.

      Then you want to give that as a source for whether or not someone should be denied their natural. civil and Constitutionally protected RKBA? Wow. To this day no one knows exactly how you get your name on the National “No Fly” list, and there is no known procedure for finding out ahead of time IF you are on that list, nor how to get your name off the list if it shouldn’t be there (unless you were Ted Kennedy).

      All that quite aside from the fact that the government has no Constitutional authority to create or enforce such a list.

  6. Yep. I have an acquaintance who has a felony for what I think is total BS. I told him to try anyway and see what happens. Prosecutions are so rare it is mind boggling. We’re all potential felons for the flimsiest of reasons.

  7. Well I’m a bit torn about that. But I defiantly lean towards binning NICS. That one barrier does make it a bit harder for criminals to ‘casually’ get guns. But at the same time it’s too easy for the Fed’s to abuse the data collected with these checks. There is supposed checks in place to keep that from happening. But in a day in age of near constant government shenanigans with the truth it’s easy to see why we don’t trust them.

    And there’s also the problem with false possibilities. Back in NC a friend of mine got nailed with one when he tried to buy his first pistol. His name came has being connected to a know drug dealer. Never mind he was 8 at the time he supposedly was dealing. Non the less it took a bit of work to get that cleared off his record so that he could get his pistol.

  8. I have my dads first and last name so every nics gives me an issue. Hear me out… I wouldn’t mind an ID card issued to you on 18th birthday allowed to buy whatever (guns, machine guns, silencers,knives, power tools, cars) you could afford, you get convicted of murder/diagnosed a danger to others (by 2 or more physicians) you lose card until you can earn it back. P.S. I understand that mental health can be a bit tricky, but I do work in mental health and trust me some people can not be trusted with guns or just about any item that can be used as a weapon.

    • Huh, that’s not a terrible idea. I’m of the opinion that firearms should be completely unregulated (based on my deeply held belief that it’s better to have guns everywhere than have guns nowhere or only in some places), but that’s the most reasonable NICS alternative I’ve ever seen.

  9. Never say never. Although any federal system with personal data in it is harder to kill than a cockroach.

  10. 2.5 million outstanding arrest warrants, police and court records show. Among them are tens of thousands of people wanted for violent offenses and other felonies.”

    I had thought that it was being convicted of a felony that barred you from purchase not being just being arrested or having an arrest warrant issued.

    I do understand that getting information on convictions is harder and less reliable than information on arrests. The police seem to keep records on arrests but the courts don’t seem to do as well about the disposition of cases.

  11. So. The answer to a sloppy, inefficient, intrusive Big Brother system is… more expensive and intrusive Big Brother??

  12. I think NICS is a necessary evil due to the government. Most people who are indifferent or lukewarm to gun ownership see background checks as reasonable and if the NRA or other groups pushed hard to repeal it, then that may give Bloomburg and others a lot ammo to attack 2A activist and it may make the ride turn against us like it was in the 1990’s

    For the record, I don’t like NICS, but it’s the 3rd rail of gun ownership, just like felons and guns. I think anyone not in jail should be able to own a gun but if anyone lobbied to even just allow non violent felons 2A rights, then the antis would have a field day and at a minimum, a vast majority of people would relate to that and that would not be good for us.

    It’s a frustrating reality.

  13. If NICS checks are so critical to our well being as a nation, how did we as a nation get along before the launch of NICS in the 1990s?

    Look, a violent person who is determined to hurt a victim has an almost infinite number of options and weapons available … and nearly all of those options/weapons do not depend on NICS approvals. This means that an NICS denial does absolutely nothing to stop a violent person from harming their victims.

    Since the NICS does absolutely nothing to stop violent people from harming their victims, it is a total waste of resources and we should get rid of it.

  14. What is the point of the system if they don’t bother to prosecute felons who come up positive on the check?

    The whole system seems pointless. A very expensive and needless waste of time that accomplishes next to nothing.

    • “The whole system seems pointless. A very expensive and needless waste of time that accomplishes next to nothing.”

      Could be said about just about any government program…

  15. Here’s how it breaks down. All numbers for 2010. Source: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bjs/grants/239272.pdf

    1.2% of NICS checks result in a denial. 94% of all NICS denials are overturned or cancelled.

    .08% of all NICS checks result in a referral for further investigation. The total is 4732. 3588 of these are for convicted felons, persons subject to a restraining order or persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse. That’s .06% of all NICS checks.

    1164 improperly transferred firearms were recovered. That’s .02% of all NICS checks conducted.

    62 NICS check denial cases were referred for prosecution. That’s .001% of all NICS checks.

    Of these, 18 were declined by the prosecutor. 12 were still pending at the time the data was assembled. 10 were dismissed as part of a plea agreement and 13 were plead guilty to.

    Assuming all the unknown outcomes would result in a guilty plea, which matches with prior year data, we end up with 25 successful prosecutions. That’s .0004%.

    Prior years data show the number of prosecutions/guilty pleas going steadily down. Does this tell us the check system is working, prodding criminals to seek their weapons elsewhere? Or does that tell us the system is useless as criminals still get guns despite the NICS system?

    My sense is background checks are what RF likes to call “security theater.” Their only real use is as a PR tool, the old “No, the NRA supports the NICS system” argument.

    Looking at the hard data, and at the non-existent correlation between crime rates and the background check system, I believe these massive resources could be put to better use elsewhere.

    It would also remove the menace of ATF agents illegally scanning 4473s, a practice that has been reported by numerous dealers.

    • Let’s not forget the 93.8% or 71,410 people that had their transfer significantly delayed or unfulfilled. How many of those were left defenseless to violence because of “oops”.

  16. Bin it. Then again, I’d have firearms sold out of vending machines like gum. ‘Rivets vs. Screws’ threads on AK aficionado forums should to serve to remind us that firearms are relatively f*cking easy to be had.
    No law that comes to mind, in my opinion, can change the human heart or spirit; those that have a mind to hurt other folks will do so by any handy means. Losing a liter of blood due to a stab or slash wound would seem to matter little compared to the same blood loss due to a sucking chest wound made by a gun shot, or am I oversimplifying matters?

  17. If a felon has been rehabilitated and is no longer a threat to the public there is no need to disarm him. And if a felon has not been rehabilitated he shouldn’t be free to walk the streets because he absolutely will acquire a firearm by any means necessary. Sure, stopping him at the LGS may prevent him from having a Glock brand Glock, but I don’t think the liquor store clerk really cares that it’s a Taurus brand Glock pointed at his head. Scrap the NICS and start keeping violent felons in prison longer.

    • If a felon has been rehabilitated

      Wouldn’t that require restitution? If it does, then none of them have been rehabilitated. Ever.

      • The state should not release any prisoner that is not deemed to be safe to possess a firearm, because if he isn’t safe to possess one he WILL acquire one anyway. Of course mistakes will be made, but IMHO 2 strikes and you’re up for life when it comes to violent felonies.

      • My brother is a felon because he was caught in possession of more than a certain amount of powder cocaine. Who should he pay restitution to? Who are the victims of his victimless crime?

  18. NICS is like that $1.00 bridge toll that was supposed to be free once the bridge was paid for. Today, the bridge has been paid for many times over and the toll is $15.00.

    NICS is just another example of governmental herpes. It can’t be cured and we’ll never be rid of it.

  19. The system is woefully inadequate, full of holes and doesn’t actually stop anyone determined enough from getting a gun. Ditch it.

  20. As I’ve said in the past: Open up NICS to employers.

    The howls of protests for false positives will then either get the system fixed, or result in it being scrapped.

    As long as it remains a system that affects only gun owners (or potential gun owners), the public and the statist bootlickers in the media will champion it.

  21. I don’t get it, keep my name off of any lists. I’m not even Jewish, but no F ___ lists for me and mine. We’ve seen lists at its worst. Be safe out there, no name.

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