How Long Does NICS Keep Purchase Records?

The NICS has been the subject of much discussion lately thanks to the FixNICS bill, and mostly because the system clearly doesn’t work as well as it should. Lots of gun owners worry that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System – or NICS – has records of gun buyers and the firearms they purchased. They’re concerned that it could be used as a de facto gun registry.

Have you seen ‘Red Dawn’? One of the first things the Soviet and Cuban invaders do is round up all known gun owners.

Whether or not that’s realistic, it still behooves us to know just how long records are maintained by the NICS and by extension, the ATF and other parties when it comes to gun purchases. 

Records of successful transactions are kept for 24 hours. In other words, if you submit the paperwork to buy a firearm and the background check is submitted to their database, it’s only retained for 24 hours before being deleted IF you weren’t denied. However, the number of transactions and the date(s) are kept on file for 90 days.

How long are records of denied background checks kept?

They are kept indefinitely, though they aren’t kept in the NICS database indefinitely. The NICS logs those transactions and keeps a database of denied applications for a period of 10 years, after which it is transferred to an FBI database.

Those checks that are put on hold or are otherwise in an open status are kept for 90 days and are then destroyed. However, the date(s) and NTN – the NICS Transaction Number(s) – are kept indefinitely.

That covers the NICS system itself. Current law prohibits the FBI, the ATF or any federal agency, department or officer from using NICS data to create a firearms owner registry of any sort, except those persons who are prohibited from possessing a firearm.

However, it’s a whole other ballgame for FFLs.

A Federal Firearms License holder, specifically those holding the buyer/seller license, has to maintain copies of all ATF 4473 forms – that’s the one you fill out to buy or otherwise take possession of a firearm – for 20 years. If the FFL holder ceases doing business, they have to send their 4473 records to the ATF.

Not only that, the records must be hard copies. By law, they cannot be digitized. Even the ATF can’t digitize records if they receive them from a store that went out of business. They’ve actually had to dry out thousands of 4473s they’ve received after major hurricanes and other disasters.

So, that’s how NICS records are kept…or at least, that’s what the laws tell us. What’s mandated and what actually happens can be two different things. You may not like the NICS system, how about the retention periods…sound about right to you?  Are you the cynical type who thinks they already have a gun registry and are just waiting to use it?

 

comments

  1. avatar LibertyToad says:

    However, I’ve read that the NSA keeps the records forever. I’m not sure if that is true but in this day and age it would not surprise me…

    1. avatar Flinch says:

      NICS might have an expiration date. But the data doesn’t. Assume forever if not longer.

      Best defense is to overload the system. There’s safety in numbers. You know, herd mentality and all that. A gun a month is a good start. A gun a week is better.

      1. avatar Mad Max says:

        By using previous old estimates of the number of firearms in circulation and adding successful NICS checks to the total, I come up with more than 400 million guns in the US after discounting for incomplete purchases.

        That’s a lot of confiscation, even if you have a database/registry.

        1. avatar Flinch says:

          Yea, so let’s triple it. Make the database collapse under its own weight!

        2. avatar cisco kid says:

          Actually its closer to 250 million and only 3 per cent of the population owns the majority of those weapons. So 3 per cent of the population could not start a revolution even if they wanted to because 97 per cent of the population would be turning them in. And no it does not matter whether there is a data base or not as when they pass a confiscation law the penalties are so severe that the majority of the people who are law abiding citizens with jobs and personal assets to lose would not be dumb enough not to turn them in to be melted down. Australia proved just how quickly you can indeed confiscate large quantities of guns and melt them down. That’s all historic reality not Right Wing bluster and bullshit.

        3. avatar Big Bill says:

          Crisco, good to see you back. I always enjoy seeing someone who so readily demonstrates his ignorance.
          The number of guns in the US is actually a LOT closer to 500 million than 250. Your figure only takes into account the estimated number of NICS checks. Those guns obtained before NICS are, for the most part, still out there, and a single NICS check can be for multiple guns. And no one has any idea of how many guns are held illegally, including those imported illegally to feed the criminals.
          And your 3% number is only of those someone decided to label “super gun owners,” or those with17 or more guns. It ignores those with fewer than 17. And that, despite your ignorant ideas, is the majority of gun owners. Dismissing them as being less than 3% is foolish.
          You really need to do more research into that mush you think are facts.
          On the other hand, don’t bother. You’re a hoot, that’s what you are. I like you.

        4. avatar Flinch says:

          That’s why everyone needs a boat-shaped gun safe. Or a gun safe-shaped boat.

    2. avatar Not Affiliated with the NSA in any way says:

      The NSA keeps metadata basically forever. The Utah DC (Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center) was built for data storage primarily, with limited compute capacity. But even with the capacity, the actual content captured daily is so high, it expires pretty quickly, then, unless its flagged, is reduced to just the metadata.

      Data volume is expanding, much faster than storage capacity, but the UDC has lots of room for new facilities to be built, plus the new budget has more capital expenditures, but a new building has a much longer lead time, than rolling in a storage pod.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        What media is the data stored on?

        Spools of tape?

        1. avatar Not Affiliated with the NSA in any way says:

          Currently 3.5″ SAS drives in a slightly tweaked commercial SAN. The pace of expansion means that you can’t really require custom firmware, or a completely custom platform, plus COTS solutions built for Data Science, especially for health/financial service research is perfectly adequate. There’s a move to switch from spinning drives to SSD types, but not really for performance reasons, its power and cooling. Performance, and the security inherent in SSD’s is a nice bonus, plus they available in smaller packages, 2.5″ for enterprise, SSD’s are used, but basically as giant caches between RAM and physical drive now. There’s no reason you couldn’t shift to 2Tb M.2 2242 or 2280 format if you really wanted super high density per btu of cooling, but the platform has to be supportable from legacy to newest so that causes a few issues.

          Spinning drives are cheap and have lots of capacity, but their big, consume lots of power, which throws off lots of heat spinning at 10k rpm. But Seagate’s Nytro 2.5″ enterprise SSD’s come in a 15Tb flavor, which sounds great, but are super expensive, but its not like the government care’s much about spending your money. When you’re spinning a couple million drives, that’s a lot of cooling and power, and backup power, and remember, you’re not just getting zTB, its more like z X 1.2 to 1.5 x n where n=dr capacity. In reality for every 1TB your storing you probably need 3-5Tb for overhead and replicated redundancy if you want high performance storage.

    3. avatar BLAMMO says:

      Does anyone keep records of boating accidents?

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        Nobody even remembers boating accidents. The last one was the Titan – ? something or other, old lady with the necklace . . .

        What boating accidents? . . .

    4. avatar Jim Morrison says:

      2012 I got a federal security clearance. They had no problem pulling up records of every gun that i had ever purchased. In addition, they knew of every ammo purchase that I made using a credit card. I was competing in IDPA at the time, and when they interviewed my wife, they told her it was ‘unusual’. They know who has guns and ammo. Don’t lie to yourself.

      1. avatar Not Affiliated with the NSA in any way says:

        I’ve had an SSBI every 5 years since 2001 for a Q clearance level 4, and no they neither have that data, nor do they ask for that in your SF86 or in any interview I’ve ever had, or heard about from anyone else. They did specifically ask me about my CCDW permit but only in passing, and only once, probably in 11 as I left California for Nevada in 09. I would have needed like 5 pages for my SF86 just for serial numbers if they had that. I been asked multiple times about a speeding ticket going 106mph crossing the Arizona desert though. You should have seen what I was doing before I slowed down, was not my actual answer.

        So I’m calling BS on that.

        1. avatar Joe R. says:

          People with security clearances shouldn’t talk about the clearances that they have (or have had).

          That’s the first rule of fight club.

      2. avatar R-San says:

        Interesting. I conducted background investigations for over 30 years for various “alphabet” agencies for TS and Q clearances and read many final reports. Never had any indication whatsoever that gun and ammunition purchases were part of those investigations.

        1. avatar Rick says:

          Yeah, I’ve had it done by the FBI, a contractor, and the Canadians, and no one has ever said word one about any of that. I guess if one of my neighbors said I had an arsenal or something it may have come up, but I’m not the neighbor that built his house around a bank vault he had built in the basement for a massive cache, of guns and wine. Lots and lots of wine.

  2. avatar TommyG says:

    They can’t do anything on a grand scale without the records being digitized. Personally I would rather they have to keep every paper copy for ever. The more paper copies there are the more difficult it is for them to do any kind of mass confiscation.
    The New York State government recognized this years ago and its one of the motivations behind forcing hand gun permit owners having to re-register every 5 years. The registration is done online and does not give the state anymore information that what they already have on paper – the thing is you are now in a electronic DATABASE that can be searched and queried easily, putting them a step closer to your door when they decide to be there.

    1. avatar MeRp says:

      It is a nice thought and all, but I worked on digitizing documents 10 years ago, and, even then, you’d be amazed at both how quickly they can be digitized and the level of accuracy that OCR has, even for hand written stuff (especially if that stuff happens to be on a defined form).

      I’m certain it has all only improved since I worked actively with it.

      If they wanted to digitize the Form 4473s, they could have it done in pretty short order; if they started by doing all the ones they keep in the warehouses, they could even get it mostly done (and the process perfected) in secret. Furthermore, they could work up samples and get the process perfected without even breaking the law (until they actually started scanning the real data in). Literally the only hope I see is they are part of the government, which means that the gears of bureaucracy mandate that nothing be done efficiently, and there’s likely some board of standards that will review anything with even a remote appearance of efficiency, and require it to be reworked, unless just the right person (who knows the right curmudgeon on that board) happens to take notice and throw their weigh behind the efficiency being green-lit.

    2. avatar cisco kid says:

      See my other post. They would not have to come to your door as you would willingly turn them in or face prison and loss of all your assets. Few people would risk that. Its one thing to act tough on the internet but reality is far different as the Darwinian survival mode kicks in very quickly and that is to obey the law “or else” and in Nazi German everyone knew what “or else meant”.

      1. avatar Big Bill says:

        Wrong again, Crisco.
        The left (which probably doesn’t include you as anything more than a cymbal) thinks long term when it comes to guns. They’ve said so many times.
        Door to door is dangerous, and they know it. So all it really requires is a ban on all guns (but they start with certain types (those that look like military guns), which some states are already doing), but current owners are grandfathered.
        That means that as they die, those guns must be destroyed, as they can’t be passed down as part of an estate.

        Never underestimate your enemy.
        In most cases. In this case, Crisco, you don’t even know what your overlords are doing.

      2. avatar Scoutino says:

        You shouldn’t project your way of thinking. Most of gun owners are not scared little mice. Even in Australia only fraction of suddenly illegal gun was turned in for money.

        When gun grabbers require us to turn them in is exactly the time to use them. Grabbers hear ‘From my cold, dead fingers’ and say ‘Okay’. What they don’t realize is that we mean it with undisclosed addition – ‘In pile of hot brass!’
        Let’s use all legal ways to never let it happen.

  3. avatar They Live says:

    Got an NRA Membership ?
    Subscribe to Guns & Ammo ?
    Ever bought sporting clays shells with a credit card ?

    Naive to think it’s not all on file ‘ someplace ‘ …… but so what ?

    We already know what ‘ they ‘ think of us.

  4. avatar anonymoose says:

    Nah, they keep it forever. Trust me, they keep it forever.

  5. avatar mike h says:

    We live in an age where any type of information can be – and has been – weaponized in any number of ways. It would not shock me in the least to learn this info might be used and exploited in creative ways. Trust in federal institutions is getting harder to come by.

  6. avatar Kenshinwulf says:

    Flat out, that’s a lie. How do I know? Let me tell you my story.

    I had a gun stolen from my car. I reported it as such.

    9 months later I receive a call saying it was recovered. I needed to provide a serial number for it, which I didn’t have.

    They asked for my SS#, and the state I bought it in.

    I had bought the pistol over 10 years ago, in another state (Maryland).

    They called me back and released it to me.

    The garbage who stole it had dumped it in a creek. It was ruined, and the serial number was mostly worn off.

    So how did they know it was mine? (It was btw).

    Someone with legal and monetary means should look into if they are really not keeping records.

    1. avatar Chris says:

      LE agencies can run a trace on a serial (or partial serial).

      Its time consuming and challenging, but it can sometimes link a gun to a buyer.

      Example:

      Seize gun from felon. Check gun’s serial for stolen status, no return. In most cases the gun just gets disposed of (destroyed or auctioned) at this point.

      If the gun appears to be of significant value, or the officer/agency who seized it is really interested though…

      Let’s say this gun is a Ruger. Contact Ruger, provide serial number. Ruger tells officer it was sold to distributor X. Agency contacts distributor who advises which store it was sold out from, officer contacts store – who then check their archived 4473’s.

      You can see that there are a lot of step here, most of which put a significant burden on a supplier or store. Sometimes gun stores want to help get a gun back to an owner and take the time to make it happen.

      I’ve done it once or twice – a nice Dan Wesson 1911 that I seized seemed too nice to go to the smelter and sure enough, it ended up being stolen – the owner just didn’t have the serial number to report after the burglary.

      Its a pretty clunky way to go about gun confiscation though.

      Don’t crucify me here, but I’ve tried to use it that way too – tried to dig up info on what guns a guy had purchased before he had committed his crimes (assault and rape of wife, kidnap and unlawful sex pen of daughter). No go… just too many hoops to run though. Ended up getting them off a consent search (go figure).

      1. avatar tickTalk says:

        What state are you in?
        Here in the PDRC I know that LE can pull up a list of every firearm I (legally) own on their MDT

        1. avatar Not Affiliated with the NSA in any way says:

          Because in California you have to register your gun with the State. It has nothing to do with NICS, two totally different things.

          One of the reason’s why NICS is terrible, is specifically because it was designed to suck, its not been updated in almost 20 years, it doesn’t interconnect with anything, including all the national background check systems. You have to export to a flat file and then TFTP it into the NICS system, hence its all over the place with restraining orders, DD from the military, etc. Most of them are scripted, but its high tech, 1993 style. Technically I suppose some successful transaction data could be in the cache, but the app doesn’t actually save successful transactions. Failed transactions are printed after 30 days I think, and that’s how its archived.

    2. avatar Chris Mallory says:

      If you bought it from an FFL, they could have traced the pistol from the manufacturer/wholesaler to the dealer and then check the 4473.

      1. avatar Kenshinwulf says:

        I bought it from an FFL, who closed shop 8 years ago.

        Question.

        If they don’t keep records, the FFL was out of business, the serial number was worn off (except for 2 numbers), how did they know it was mine?

        I gave them the following information: Make/model, SS#, location stolen from.

        Further, the gun was purchased many years earlier, in another state.

        Would it have been different if the gun was operable? Don’t get me wrong, glad I got it back. Good job LEO. But, how did they know it was mine based on the limited information?

        1. avatar Kenneth says:

          They could have matched the gun with the stolen property reports. And then got the serial number of the firearm from the 4473, which was turned in and archived forever once the FFL ceased doing business. ALL 4473s are saved forever, either by the FFL themselves(plus the ATF regularly goes around and makes copies from various FFL holders.), or from the archives in the case of the FFL ceasing business.

        2. avatar Stereodude says:

          There are ways to recover the serial number and FFL’s have to send their 4473’s to the ATF (or some gov’t agency) when they close.

        3. avatar jwtaylor says:

          “But, how did they know it was mine based on the limited information?”
          You are assuming that they are sure it was yours. With the limited serial number information, they may not. In fact, it may not actually be yours, and you could be in possession of some other stolen or misplaced firearm right now.
          The police may have just known the make and model and where it was stolen from, matched that with the same information you provided, and figured that was good enough of a match to get the property off their books and count it as a success.

    3. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      The Clinton Administration was caught keeping records of gun purchases from the background check system and supposedly got rid of info. Sure , I trust the Clintons don’t you.

      1. avatar Leroy Jenkins says:

        What, did Bill print out all the transactions in the 2 years he was president and NICS existed? And then they took those papers and did what exactly?

    4. avatar Rick says:

      If it was a handgun and you bought it in Maryland, then it was registered by you with the state at purchase. So you not knowing how that works is the issue, its nothing to do with NICS.

  7. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    As a retired LEO, I can guarantee you that those BGC’s are kept forever.

    1. avatar Leroy Jenkins says:

      So we can chalk that up to “retired for cause”.

  8. avatar Native Texan says:

    Buy 80% lowers have a gunsmith build you a no serial # firearm.

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      If somebody is willing to build an unnumbered firearm for you, that means he’s a CI (Confidential Informant/Instigator) who makes a career or at least side job income from committing crimes to help government agents entrap idiots like you.

      1. avatar Native Texan says:

        First of all there’s no reason for name calling; second SO what?
        Hypothetically A citizen can buy a “Ghost gun” and own it without a GB check, that’s legal in some states as long as that person does not sell that firearm. The government Ignores CONSTITUTIONAL laws, why cant WE Ignore UNCONSTITUTIONAL laws.

        1. avatar neiowa says:

          They have more and uglier lawyers than you.

        2. avatar Kenneth says:

          “A citizen can buy a “Ghost gun” and own it without a GB check, that’s legal in some states as long as that person does not sell that firearm. ”
          Can you see any logical fallacy in your sentence above?
          HINT: If the person CANNOT sell that firearm, then how can any other citizen BUY it? To make a purchase requires that someone have the thing to sell, does it not?

        3. avatar arc says:

          Kenneth, you aren’t buying the finished rifle without a serial number, you are buying an 80% lower which is legally defined as not being a firearm. Its grey area, having someone finish the lower for you, but as long as you know who you are working with, this is a non-issue. A gunsmith can build the entire rifle, except the lower, and sell it to you.

          Its not hard to get a table top mill and a jig and finish your own lower.

          You will find that the vast majority of people speak plainly and don’t give a rats ass about logical fallacies, hyperbole, or any other asinine argument term from debate class. Taking the holier than thou, more educated than thou route, is one of the fastest ways to ostracize yourself.

        4. avatar Rick says:

          It’s not a grey, or gray, area. It is 100% illegal to sell someone your “ghost gun”. It’s also 100% illegal to manufacture one for someone else.

        5. avatar that one guy says:

          it is not federally illegal to sell a completed 80%.
          it is federally illegal to complete an 80% with the intent to sell it.

          there is a significant difference between those two statements. the latter is pretty easy to legally nail down, especially if a history of you doing it can be established. the former will probably require some sort of affirmative defense, which can be trickier to establish. therefore, while legal, it might not be advisable.

          As for getting a gunsmith to build your 80% for you….yeah, that’s not legal for the gunsmith, and one who does it is either about to be arrested for doing it or is about to get you arrested for paying for it.

    2. avatar ‘liljoe says:

      I only do ghost guns on Halloween.

    3. avatar Rabbi says:

      It is illegal for anyone to build a 80% for someone else, paid or not. Only the owner can build it.

      1. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

        According to the ATF, I couldn’t even rent my tools to you to finish/build a gun. (Not that I have the tools). If I had money to burn, I’d buy the tools, just as an FU to the system.

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          Lawyers have tools.

          Just not ones useful to me.

        2. avatar Kenneth says:

          The only tools really required are the jig, and some drill bits and rotary cutters. And a drill press, but one can find a decent one of those for <100 US used, or under that for a new, but crappy, Harbor Freight one.
          https://ads.midwayusa.com/product/891451/80-pct-arms-ar-15-universal-drill-press-jig-gen-1
          https://ads.midwayusa.com/product/789307/80-pct-arms-easy-jig-gen-1-tool-kit
          Apx. 200 US will do it, including shipping.

        3. avatar that one guy says:

          I /do/ wonder where the loan/rent line is drawn.

          If I sell you the tools, then offer a 100% refund upon their return…(like autozone does with their specialty tools), did I rent them to you, legally?

          What if I give you the tools free with purchase of an (overpriced) 80, then offer to buy the tools back if you decide not to keep them?

          Not that I want to lose a dog to finding out, but i’m sure a motivated legal beagle could find that edge.

    4. avatar DesertDave says:

      Why would you need a gunsmith?

    5. avatar JD says:

      Sorry nobody but the buyer of that 80% can build it into a working firearm. Working firearm means complete the receiver.
      We do AK build classes. We start with flats and the customer/student does all the work using our tools and supervision. We do not do any demonstration on that flat period. Once the receiver is complete it is entered in our book and a background check is done same as if the person bought a finished rifle. It is the only way we can legally allow anyone to use our tools and build a firearm.
      If you brought an 80% rifle to us for work, say you wanted cerakote or whatever we can’t do it. We can do all the parts except the receiver but we can’t touch that receiver. The only way we could do it would be by engraving a serial number and our name, city, state on the receiver and logging it in our bound book and do a background on you when you came back for it.

    6. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Buy an 80% lower and build it yourself. Or buy a Defense Distributed Ghost Gunner and build one for yourself every 30 minutes or so. The thing is amazing.

      1. avatar Rick says:

        Just buy it in person, with cash. Because if you think the NICS check was the thing to worry about, you’re looking in the wrong direction.

        NICS is bad, for everyone, gun grabbers included. The gold mine of data comes from your CC and the lesser known shipping transactions, but also your email, web history, etc. Yeah, google has some of that, but the data intercept systems are at all of the ISP’s, so its intercepted before google, or any other app provider, gets it, they just get it too.

    7. avatar Scoutino says:

      1. That would be illegal. You have to finish the 80% lower yourself.
      2. It’s easy enough project, not necessary to involve gunsmith.
      3. You can get more satisfaction out of a gun that you have built with your own hands. I let my friends to use my jig and router to finish their lower receivers and they all agree.

  9. avatar Shire-man says:

    All data is forever. There are no more deletions of anything, anywhere for anyone. If you are specifically targeted even completely anonymizing your data becomes a trackable facet.

    It’s been like this for years now and still people gawk left shocked and agog when any revelation comes down the pipe like this recent Facebook nonsense. If you haven’t figured it out by now you won’t or don’t want to.

    The required resources may vary but for all intents and purposes nobody is off the grid when by virtue of being off the grid puts you, as a data point, on said grid.

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      Presumably some segments of “law enforcement” assume that anyone that isn’t spreading their life across fakebook are hiding something to be investigated. I prefer to observe that only morons are on fakebook/support fluckleburger.

      1. avatar tickTalk says:

        Oh, don’t be so hard on little Marky. He is the embodiment of the american dream. A mediocre coder who steals an idea, cheats his partners, and makes billions selling the personal information of stupid people who were more than happy to give it to him with no restrictions, in exchange for some faded illusion of having a social life.

  10. avatar DesertDave says:

    As we are seeing these days with the Dept of Justice and it’s underlings, the LAW isn’t followed as it might have been in the past. I trust the government even less these days than in the past and would not put it past them to be saving all of this data in some database forever.

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      “isn’t followed as it might have been in the past”. Says who? Just now for the 1st time some modest attempt at accountability. “Justice”/FBI/etc has likely been SOP for decades.

  11. avatar Chris Mallory says:

    There are more than 300 million firearms in the US, with about 100 million firearms owners. The much “lauded” Australian gun buyback only had to handle 700,000 firearms. They don’t have enough door kickers, no where near enough.

    1. avatar Derek says:

      More like 400,000,000 + guns in America.

      http://weaponsman.com/?p=33875

  12. avatar Old Region Fan says:

    There are “traces” done daily

  13. avatar Ralph says:

    So when does the government sell the data to Facebook?

  14. avatar KMc says:

    Riddle me this, Batman: Why does the Gov. allow long gun purchases without a Permit but not handguns?
    Why do we have to do a multiple sale form on handguns but not long guns?
    BTW, a NICS submission does not always equal a sale. So lighten up a bit, people.

    1. avatar Rick says:

      I get 12 NICS checks a year with my CCDW, plus any actual gun sales.

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I’m confused about what you mean. I don’t need a permit to purchase a long gun or a handgun from a private citizen or an FFL, at least not here in Texas.

      1. avatar Rick says:

        Some states require a permit to purchase, even person to person. Some require registration of each firearm.

        There seems to be a lot of misinformation about what a NICS check asks for to authorize you, what a 4473 has, and what the state requirements are. Those are 3 totally different things.

        In KY, you’re CCW gets run every month against NICS. Then when you buy a gun from an FFL, they can just record your CCW# on the 4473, and not even call it in to NICS, some have policies that they do it anyway though. You always have to fill out the 4473 at an FFL though.

  15. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    I, for one, am certain that the NSA doesn’t have a login to the FBI to do a daily download overnight of every NICS check done. After all why would they want to keep a list of people who might be viewed as an enemy of the State! The more times you appear on that list the more likely you are to resist compliance, so no they don’t keep that data.

    /Set sarcasm flag back to off/

    1. avatar Not Affiliated with the NSA in any way says:

      What information do you believe is in NICS?

  16. avatar former water walker says:

    Forever…or until the Millennium. My son is basically a cyber spy for DoD. Metadata as it were…I guarantee with .gov supercomputers operating it ain’t no big thing. You’ll want those guns when all currency is digitized😖😩😟

  17. avatar JD says:

    I know here in FL the NICS data drops the buyers name from the record in 72 hours. We can see back 90 days but only the control numbers and the date of transaction. That doesn’t mean it’s not kept somewhere else but it’s not supposed to be.
    A trace is done by going from manufacturer to distributor to dealer. It doesn’t take long for us to look it up. If they actually kept the data why would they need to ask uswho purchased the firearm?

    Way back when we started doing this I asked the ATF agents during the interview what happened to the 4473’s we eventually turn in. The reply was they were put in boxes and stored in one of many warehouses. They don’t scan them or anything else. It’s more or less a black hole.
    Also the gun model and serial is not transferred to NICS. Just long gun, handgun, shotgun, or other. However if you buy more than one handgun all your info including models and serial number is faxed to the ATF within 24 hours. Everything. All personal info as well.

    1. avatar Rick says:

      Yeah, if you listen in on a phoned in NICS check, they don’t tell the phone agent anything beyond “handgun” and your info, and I’m not even positive its firearm type. It’s on the 4473, but that isn’t sent to the NICS system, just stored by the FFL.

      The FFL gets a response code that they record on the form. So if you had the gun, you could go –Manufacturer–distributor–reseller/ffl–NICS record number, but that info isn’t directly in the NICS system.

      Now some states, a la California are different, but they front end the NICS system with their own. I live in KY, and we just use the Fed NICS system, no more no less.

    2. avatar Big Bill says:

      “The reply was they were put in boxes and stored in one of many warehouses. They don’t scan them or anything else. It’s more or less a black hole.”
      This ain’t the Arc of the Covenant we’re talking about. It’s guns.
      I seriously doubt the 4473s are simply put in a box and stored somewhere. Searching them would be impossible if they were stored that way.
      Instead, they are put in a labeled box, and that label is stored in a database, along with other pertinent information (what FFL it’s from, where in which storehouse it’s stored). That way, when the distrubuter tells the ATF who they sold the gun to, they ATF can immediately find the box (no black hole!) and search the 4473s (which are store in the box in an order which facilitates physical searching) to find out who the FFL sold it to.
      No actual registry is made, but they know where to find that information quickly.
      Once the gun is sold by the FFL, what the buyer does isn’t known to the ATF. He can sell it legally (as far as the feds are concerned, of course), lose it in a boating accident, destroy it (in a legal manner, of course 🙂 ), or pretty much whatever.

      1. avatar Rick says:

        I wouldn’t say quickly, the FFL guy I used for years retired and he showed me what he was sending to the ATF for storage, he did it on the side in his basement. 40 years of forms, probably in order, but definitely not by month/year etc. I guess it technically fit the rule for storage in your FFL manual, but he was buddy’s with the ATF inspector so kind of got a pass. Mouse droppings, mildew, other ???, if I were an ATF agent that cought that request, I might just say “could not be found”, or don a hazmat suit before I start looking.

  18. avatar johnny go lightly says:

    The NSA collects and maintains everything on the internet WORLDWIDE. They also have ALL the audio content of worldwide phone lines. They minimally can reach back to any point of information for YEARS. The whole metadata misdirection was a wonderful way to deflect scrutiny from their activities. Thanks to Clapper and Congress for their tireless work in screwing America.

    1. avatar Not Affiliated with the NSA in any way says:

      No, that is not what the NSA has, the global telecom voice traffic would exceed all the digital storage that’s been created in history, in about 70 hours.

      For voice calls, its metadata only for the vast majority of calls, like 99.9999999999%, and that’s only for calls with one side being foreign. To target a specific number, and be within locus x of those calls, you have to target a number, then it will capture voice, translate, flag, and promote, based on some rules. But even with that, you’re talking about actually needing a real human to listen in real time to get beyond the fuzzy AI generated content, which you absolutely want.

      And that doesn’t include the other 100 methods of audio/video/textual communication beyond voice.

  19. avatar jwtaylor says:

    Why do I care if the government knows what specific firearms I own? I WANT the government to know I am armed. I want the government to know lots of people are armed. Many millions of us.
    Like…really really well armed.

  20. avatar Mad Max says:

    Everything sold in Pennsylvania goes through PICS. Handguns need a 4473 and a PA State Police Form.

    The PA Supreme Court ruled that the PA State Police can keep the records as a registry even though the law (per 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111.4) specifically forbids it. They have details of pistol sales but only that a PICS check was performed for rifles.

  21. avatar Darkman says:

    Fortunately some of us lived in a time before firearm registration. There are millions of guns out their that have no paper trail. How do you suppose they are counted??? NOT…
    Keep Your Powder Dry…Remember Why 4/19/1775…

  22. avatar ironicatbest says:

    After the sun red giants. Logically they would quit keeping records after that, it’s just a theory.

  23. avatar Slim says:

    Sure the NICS checks can be viewed as a de facto registration. If you bought a gun from
    an ffl in the last decade I’m sure there’s a digital record of it somewhere and it could be traced back to you.

    That being said, I think people give big brother government a little more credit than they deserve. If they know every detail on everybody why do they never seem to prevent anything?
    Unless under the spotlight, people tend to go under the radar.

    As for Nics leading to confiscation… Sure, the fed could send some gun owner information to individual states for mandatory registration and a turn in of prohibited guns but the enforcement of that is virtually impossible.

    Look at the NY Safe Act. Hardly anyone outside of NYC even complied and there’s no door kickers looking for guns. They don’t have the manpower.

    If Nics and de facto registration is a big deal to you just buy from a private owner. There’s no shortage of guns for sale by private sellers and it’s legal in most places…

    1. avatar Stereodude says:

      No, but they can jam you up with the rules if they want to down the road. That way they can harass people who they don’t agree with politically. That will deter people from wanting to speak out because they know they have skeletons in the closet.

    2. avatar Not Affiliated with the NSA in any way says:

      NICS doesn’t have, store, ask for, your manufacturer, model, or serial number. Your 4473 has that, but you don’t submit that to NICS. It may go to the ATF if an FFL goes out of business, but its the FBI that runs NICS.

      You state may have rules that register gun purchases, but then you’re equating more than just NICS; local FFL, a 4473, FBI, ATF, and your state.

  24. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Are you the cynical type who thinks they already have a gun registry and are just waiting to use it?
    Surprise!

  25. avatar 3of11 says:

    It doesn’t matter even if they lost every 4473. The credit card company knows what you’ve bought. Plus your logins at various gun forums and your google/YouTube habits are logged.

    1. avatar Stereodude says:

      They can’t even find terrorists they’re tipped off to. Frankly, I think they’re in a state of information overload and can’t currently process it all and get any useful pro-active data out of it. It’s likely just a big database they can go digging in to datamine someone if they want, but I don’t think the computers are churning 24/7 spitting out names of undesirables/deviants to eliminate. Now, I’m willing to admit the situation could change in the future with advances in computing and algorithms, but that’s not where it’s at now.

      1. avatar Not Affiliated with the NSA in any way says:

        That sir, is 100% true, or at least 95%. In fact most agencies have turned up the collection trip level. The data really only helps after the fact in almost all cases. You can connect the dots, once you have the dots, but it takes humans, normally, to discover things, and even then, its a roll of the dice. We’ve pretty much killed all of the dumb terrorists, besides the one off home grown ones. Most of the established networks do real work offline, or as fatwa’s for angry joe’s to carry out.

        1. avatar Not Affiliated with the NSA in any way says:

          Angry Joe’s are the locally sourced organic sympathizers. see Trader Joe’s

  26. avatar Joe R. says:

    Still dealing with “people” though, people.

    People eat, shit, sleep, somewhere. If they F with you too much, meet them there.

  27. avatar D. in OR says:

    Wonder how often the NICS system is backed up. A delta backup on a daily basis comes to mind…

    1. avatar Not Affiliated with the NSA in any way says:

      Currently, there is a daily full image snapshot done, but the databases are so out of support there isn’t a product that will do delta’s on it. That is rolled every 72 hours, technically it could be a bit longer, but backup happens at 4AM Eastern, and its really quite fast, doesn’t go to tape either, since there’s actually very little data in NICS. There is an offline/offsite backup of a completely empty NICS app, this is their disaster plan. If West Virginia is flooded with…meth I guess, you bring up the virgin app, then batch load all the import files from states, NCIC, etc, and it gets rebuilt. I couldn’t guess when the last time they actually tested that though.

      There is an exceptions, the VAF (Voluntary Appeal File) database has to be maintained, as its the documentation for you if you always get flagged, so you can enter your number on the 4473 and the FFL will provide that number, which you’ll still probably get a delay on. Basically if you are Bob Smith in Virginia, and their is another Bob Smith, with similar bday, spelling, etc, who’s a bad guy, you may get flagged. If you use your SS#, it can differentiate you. I personally don’t want my SS# to be sitting in my FFL’s basement, or digitally stored on a USB drive they keep wherever, so I’d pass on that.

      You have to remember, the data everyone is freaking out about is tracking your gun to you, that’s never been in NICS, there are states that have that info, Illinois, California, Mass, etc. But that’s not information the feds have. If your worried about the feds, or anyone else, getting your info, pay in cash, person to person transactions, which you didn’t find online. That sounds like a lot of work if you want the newestest bestest tactical tool, so people just buy online, and/or pay via ccard.

  28. avatar dukecitydean says:

    My local gun shop has started using computerized forms, and the Cabella’s here does the same thing. Are those printed and then filed? or are the kept (illegally) in digital form??

    1. avatar Rick says:

      The FFL is required to keep the 4473 for 20 years. It is not illegal for them to keep it.

    2. avatar Rick says:

      Also, they’re not “filed” in any sense of the word, the FFL is responsible for maintaining it for 20 years. Cabela’s, and other big box stores, store the digital copy centrally, as its just much less of a hassle to have IT have a process to maintain it, than have the local store maintain either paper copies, or some type of digital info, that will absolutely have PII or SPI data on it (Personally/Sensitive Identifiable Information) which have strict laws around the care and feeding of that info in the US, and even more so in some states.

  29. avatar Eric Jones says:

    If you believe they are NOT illegally collecting this information then you are fooling yourself.

    1. avatar B-Rad says:

      What information are you saying they are illegally collecting? “Information” is a pretty broad and useless term.

  30. avatar James Drouin says:

    “How Long Does NICS Keep Purchase Records?”

    Well, the ‘devil is in the details’, and in this particular case, the “detail” is use of the words “purchase records”.

    For a fact, not speculation, but “fact”, “ownership records” are kept “forever”.

    Just ask anyone who has had a firearm stolen and then been found to be used in a crime.

  31. avatar David says:

    Back in 2001 I tried to buy a firearm and found out I had a disqualifying item in a different state than I’m living in now. In 2017 I got that item expunged and no longer have a disqualification. In my state firearm registration certificate it ask, have you been denied a gun registration certicate before? Do I put yes or no? How much does this effect the decision to allow me to have one?

  32. avatar James Drouin says:

    For a “fact”, firearm ownership records, under whatever agency or acronym they’re filed, are “forever”.

    Just ask any law enforcement officer how they trace firearms found or otherwise retrieved from a crime.

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