Form 4473 and GLOCK (courtesy
Previous Post
Next Post

The failure of the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to prevent the Sutherland Springs shooter from purchasing four firearms has taken front and center in the “debate” over his horrific crime. This isn’t the first time a spree killer managed to pass — or bypass — a NICS check at a gun store. It’s not even the first time a church shooter passed the FBI’s approval process. Common sense says d’uh! If you think about it logically. . .

criminals, crazies and terrorists are going to get guns for their nefarious purposes no matter what. Just as drug addicts get illegal drugs no matter what.

In a country with over 300 million firearms and counting, the odds of stopping bad guys from tooling-up by passing a prohibitive law — any prohibitive law — can be rounded down to zero. And anyone who thinks the government can fairly and efficiently administer a gun control law — any gun control law — is dangerously, demonstrably deluded.

But as Voltaire said, common sense is not so common. The majority of Americans support [clearly unconstitutional] background checks for firearms purchases, as did the NRA when the deal went down. That’s even as these background check supporters clock the government’s incompetence and impotence and flock to gun stores to buy a firearm to protect themselves against killers who “slip through the net.”

Should The People of the Gun concede the point, accept political reality and support efforts to “fix NICS”? Or argue — perhaps uselessly and certainly provocatively — for its removal?

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. I’ve argued in other posts that the failure of the DoD to enter Kelley’s conviction into the database does not by itself indicate NICS is a broken or worthless tool. It means someone didn’t do his job. There is no way to remove human error from a system, but that itself does not argue for removing the system.

    • Was it a clerical error or a deliberate policy not to report anything short of a dishonorable discharge?

      • He wasn’t dishonorably discharged neither was he honorably discharged: he had a “bad conduct discharge” and bumped down to E-1. Nevertheless, he was convicted via court martial on two counts of domestic abuse and served a year in jail.

        That was strike one that SHOULD have had him fail a NICS check. Unfortunately the Air Force failed to report this to the FBI, as they were supposed to. Strike two was he was involuntarily committed to a mental health facility that he escaped from. That itself is another reason he should not have been able to pass a NICS check. That however WAS reported by police to the FBI, but STILL fell through the cracks.

        This doesn’t mean NICS should go away necessarily and I’ll put my personal opinion aside on that. It does mean that the system ultimately failed, but not due to a flaw in the system but rather the flaw of people who failed to do their duty.

        This is something a lot of people against gun control laws have argued for a long time: fix the current system, make sure it works before you even think about expanding it. By all means, the laws in place should have prevented him from getting a gun.

        Senator Ted Cruz even pounded at this two-fold: for one, of the 40,000+ people that failed NICS checks in a given year only 44 were ever prosecuted. As I recall it was something like eight that were ever even convicted, none of which ever served any time. Secondly, Ted Cruz himself co-wrote a bill that was designed to put stricter requirements and punishments on the existing system without changing the nature of it (harsher penalties and greater oversight) but that was filibustered by Dems in 2013 because… well, for no real good reason probably other than it didn’t ban guns like they want.

        The government needs to do less, if anything, and what it does do it needs to do very well. That is the problem in calling for more gun control: you want the government to take more power from the people when they can’t even do what it is they’re supposed to do right. Or have you not heard of how well-oiled of a machine the IRS, SSA, VA, etc. is?

        Oh, wait…

    • NICS is a sham, perpetrated upon the good, decent, and honest law abiding citizens by communists (liberals, Democrats, RINOs, and the NRA). It cannot now, and will never be able to stop someone who wants a gun from getting one. 96.5-98% of all initial denials are reversed. Less than 50 prosecution per year for falsifying Form 4473 with less than 15 convictions per year. How is this strict scrutiny where tens of millions of citizens are burdened during the free exercise of a right to “prevent” 15 people from obtaining a gun through a FFL? NICS must go. No other right is restricted from the free exercise thereof other than the 2nd. This is an affront to all we stand for. Those who support such law are criminals and should be treated as such.

      • While I agree with you, and you are correct in saying that no other right is regulated to the same standard, I don’t think it’s something that’s possible at this time to get rid of. I don’t see even most right wing gun rights activists fighting this. Its ridiculous to me that we even have NFA, let alone NICS, but its not really gonna change (in my opinion). Sure, I’ll vote for the right things, but be real, city populations are growing, and the country is shrinking. Eventually, it will come down to people leaving guns at designated ranges, and checking them out for range use only. It will happen unless we POTG do something to change that. Just one guys opinion.

        • Indeed.

          “Should The People of the Gun concede the point, accept political reality and support efforts to “fix NICS”? Or argue — perhaps uselessly and certainly provocatively — for its removal?”

          Concede? No.

          Secede? Yes.

          That’s how liberty loving people “fix” the issue of having their rights trampled on.

  2. This all comes down to recidivism. The fix is not background checks. The fix is to man up as a society and say that if we don’t trust you with a gun, then you can’t walk the streets with the rest of us. The LV shooter is an anomaly amongst statistical anomalies. Someone who never got on the radar at all before committing mayhem. The TX shooter represents the typical situation and inherent dangers of recidivism. Smaller crimes, particularly heinous and violent crimes which exhibit abject depravity towards life and limb, are the tell all to the future. It is behavior such as this which must trigger the question. Do we trust this person with a gun? And if the answer to that is NO, then they shouldn’t be among us at all. Is there ANY doubt that a person such as Michael Brown, had he not been dispatched, was going to rapidly escalate into a societal monster? Any?

    • What you suggest is punishing someone who has yet to commit a crime, simply because that person presents a risk of harm. Minority Report, anyone? this is what they do to political dissidents in Russia (or at least used to), lock them up in mental wards. Any such law would undoubtedly be unconstitutional on several grounds.To say nothing of the risk of intentional misuse of any such law by the government to suppress opposition.

      • You hit it.

        And this is really the end goal of all government. Total subjugation of the entire controlled populace. All those who do not fit into the tightly defined parameters are “other” and they either get murdered, imprisoned, exiled, etc.

        Look at the technologies that police are using and look at all of the proposed “solutions” to our societal ills. They are all some form of “pre-crime” detection. It’s a part of that utopian vision that everyone wants but only wants to use coercive force to achieve.

      • What you suggest is punishing someone who has yet to commit a crime
        No I did not. I suggested that when someone commits a crime, that before we let them out among us, we ask a simple question. Because if we cannot trust someone with a gun then they should not be among us anymore. My suggestion compels us to rethink our CJS. This TX maniac had a history of convictions for crimes of depraved indifference towards life or limb. IMHO he never should have been released, ever. Sending someone to jail for 1, 2, 5, or whatever years based upon type of crime is ridiculous when we consider, as a society, that 99% of all major violent crimes are committed by those who have already been convicted of other crimes. We had a chance to stop them and chose not to. How is that a service to society as a whole?

    • Are you still thinking about Michael Brown. He got his. How many innocents got shot?
      Have you forgotten that a man just shot innocents in a church? What would make you think Michael Brown presented a greater risk than Devin Kelley? If they remotely have the same rap sheet then at least list them together.

      Otherwise it sounds like you have a separate axe to grind besides who we should trust to be among us.
      Old farmers always told me a man shows you who he is. Trust that.

  3. It’s stupid… every time I want to buy a new firearm, even though I have the permission slip I got fingerprinted for, they start from scratch and run a fresh background check. Dumb. Wipe it clean, and like the No Fly list (yes, I know it’s horribly flawed) build a No Gun list that all the states and agencies feed to, with a real system for appeals and corrections for those that get mistakenly placed on it. Make it easily accessible via web and phone so that anyone can privately and anonymously check with a driver’s license number if a buyer is on the list. Simple, instant, sensible, burden of proof is on the government. Is the states wanted to, they could put that endorsement on driver’s licenses, Yea, Nay, too young, CHL, etc. Wouldn’t be perfect, but damn sight better than what we get now.

    • It’s stupid… every time I want to WRITE A BLOG ARTICLE OR COMMENT, even though I have the permission slip I got fingerprinted for, they start from scratch and run a fresh background check. Dumb. Wipe it clean, and like the No Fly list (yes, I know it’s horribly flawed) build a NO BLOG list that all the states and agencies feed to, with a real system for appeals and corrections for those that get mistakenly placed on it. Make it easily accessible via web and phone so that anyone can privately and anonymously check with a driver’s license number if a BLOGGER is on the list. Simple, instant, sensible, burden of proof is on the government. Is the states wanted to, they could put that endorsement on driver’s licenses, Yea, Nay, too young, INTERNET ACCESS DENIED , etc. Wouldn’t be perfect, but damn sight better than what we get now.

      • Well, that was a lot of effort on your part for nothing…. I know you won’t agree, but to most sane and logical folks, the difference between words and guns is rather obvious. No right is absolute, yet we deny felons and others the right to purchase or own firearms as a matter of course, yet rarely if ever silence them. I would politely suggest your time would be better spent making a point instead of being obtuse and negative. Cheers.

        • Exactly. Words out of those harboring evil intentions have been exponentially more dangerous than civilian firearms ownership have ever or will ever be.

        • Because words are far more dangerous than guns. Words change nations, move mountains, and destroy lives. Why do you think lawyers get paid so much? Words enable monsters like Hitler to power. The minds of Germans were not won with guns but rather words and ideas. Why do you think it is fine to restrict the free exercise of one right and not another? There are NO restrictions upon the free exercise of any other right. Yes Virginia, one CAN yell fire in a crowed theatre. Nothing is preventing you from doing it. Arms are the tools of the 2nd as words and ideas are the tools of the 1st.

        • No right is absolute

          You sir are absolutely wrong. All rights are absolute up until you violate the rights of another. There are no laws which prohibit the free exercise of your free speech. You are free to say whatever you want, to whomever you want, wherever you want. And until you cause harm to another, there should be no problem with that. Just as the 2nd. If I wish to park a fully loaded M1A1 Abrams tank in my driveway, assuming I could afford it, then that is my right. All the way until I rotate the turret at your house and pull the trigger.

        • Don said, “but to most sane and logical folks, the difference between words and guns is rather obvious.”

          Well Don, I suggest you go ask the employees of Freddy’s Fashion Mart if they know the difference. Oh wait, you can’t: they’re all dead because Al Sharpton’s words incited a riot in which they were all burned to death…

    • Do you hold a concealed carry permit? In many states, it is accepted as a substitute for a purchase-by-purchase NICS check. Even if you don’t intend to carry, a permit simplifies gun possession.

      • Yeah, because it’s so much better to take it in the ass once rather than have to do it more than once.

        • Well, actually that is true. Sadly, Oregon the home of hippie granola tree hugging liberals that must have escaped Kommifornia gets $10 for each check by running it through the state police, so they don’t care if you have the permission slip, well, they do supposedly give you priority

  4. There’s no point in conceding anything. It’s surely useful to help the effort to reform nics suck less while still advocating the removal of a deeply flawed and demonstrably useless system.

  5. I wonder, how in Gods’ name, we ever survived from 1776 until 1998 without these magical silver bullet background checks. Oh woe is me. We were SO lucky the wrong person didn’t get a gun during those horrible 222 years. And oh so wonderful life is now that no bad persons can ever get a gun again. We surely are lucky we figure this out.

  6. I think I am doubting the social usefulness of a “prohibited person.” If the person is super violent and a threat to society, likely to re-offend… Then I don’t think we just want to just deny then from purchasing firearms from an FFL… We don’t want them walking around at all! Otherwise, if they aren’t a threat anymore, having them be a prohibited person seems to just be extra punishment to ensure they can’t vote, buy guns, go to college, get good jobs, etc… Making sure they remember they screwed up and can never get past it. If they aren’t a threat, and aren’t in jail, then why does it matter?

    Since they don’t seem to go after and arrest NICs denials, they should probably take all that money and use it to keep those known, repeat violent offenders they seem to have already identified in all those violence interrupter programs and keep them locked up. And maybe some mental health programs/asylums.

    • All the post-jail measures that SCOTUS has justified as “public safety” do the opposite of what they intend: by making life miserable, they reduce the incentive to go straight.

    • NICS depends on accurate and complete submission of data by the jurisdictions that convict offenders. We’ve seen repeatedly that they aren’t meeting their reporting obligations. Nothing will improve unless that failure causes them pain. The federal government has ways to do that. Remember the 55 mph national speed limit? The federal government doesn’t have the authority to set highway speed limits. It can, and did, withhold highway funds from states that didn’t go along. Trump is threatening to withhold funds from “sanctuary cities” that won’t cooperate with ICE. The federal government could do the same to jurisdictions that neglect their duty to report prohibited persons to NICS.

  7. You cannot fix that which, by its very nature, is inherently broken. It has been proven time and time again that if a criminal wants to get a gun they will be able to get a gun most often without going through a system which is flawed and its inherent nature. I hate to say this but at least if criminals were buying their guns at the gun store a the gun store would be making Revenue off of it and be the local government would be collecting taxes off of it.



    T H E – H O N O R – S Y S T E M

    only ‘upheld’ by those with ‘honor’ that most likely not need a background check or “regulation” in the first place.




    It should be WRONGFUL not just “wrong” for anyone to claim that they are protecting you from anyone or anything with gun-control or NICS checks. It is even more absolutely NOT TRUE that they are “actually protecting” you from “arms”. If they are not protecting you, then it certainly means that they only continue to try to regulate “arms” to protect themselves, by limiting your ability to interdict their tyranny (you don’t have to believe me, there are plenty of examples around the world and throughout history of these types of aholes).

  9. This is in the forefront of the problem. Laws on the books are not being enforced so where would now laws do one bit of good.
    It is also interesting that the liberal elitist are not talking about banning rental truck after the NYC event. It’s always the guns fault, but it is not the truck fault. Seems to be Liberal Logic 101, it’s always the gun, but never anything else! Until the liberals come to understand the problem it will never get fixed!

  10. Be very wary of *any* attempt to ‘fix’ the NCIS ‘system’.

    Their ideas of ‘repair’ will be along the lines of eliminating the 3-day cutoff, thereby making firearm purchases a very long, indefinite process with *zero* chance of eliminating convenient artificial roadblocks to completing lawful transactions cloaked as ‘technical problems’…

    • Yep. It would be innocuous and actually “common sense” if there were a straight forward fix, such as requiring agencies to update the FBI NICS system on a regular basis.

      However, I bet gun grabbers will act like gun grabbers and over reach, thus ensuring the doom of any proposed legislation because it becomes too draconian.

    • This is my concern. Initiating a bill in congress to “fix” NICS would be opening up Pandora’s box. Every congress critter and their uncle will be trying to amend it. UBC’s, redefining “in the business”, closing “Charleston loophole” adding ammo and mags, etc, etc.
      Are you willing to trust the current congressional leadership to fend off the inevitable amendments?

  11. Our conversation in an prior posting about “fixing” NICS is now hijacked by the leadership of TTAG.

    I will observe with great interest, and abandon earlier conversation.

    • “Our conversation in an prior posting about “fixing” NICS is now hijacked by the leadership of TTAG.”


      It’s TTAG’s sandbox, and TTAG’s rules for their sandbox.

      You’re free to visit any other blog and spew your hatred for America there if you find it objectionable here…

      *snicker* 🙂

  12. One of the major flaws in NICS is that not all states report disqualifying events other than felonies. Virginia Tech had a disqualifying involuntary mental health hold, but it was not reported int he state where he had been held. If the rumors are true that Texas Church massacre killer had an involuntary hold in New Mexico, then New Mexico must not have reported that detention either. Closing these reporting holes will harm no one, but will demonstrate that background checks are useless.

  13. Add a boolean column to the NICS database for “Prohibited Person” so that true/false can be searched rapidly. Create a simple web page that is accessible by anybody. The page would have two text fields and a send button. The person running the check keys in the person being checked’s name and scrolls WAY down so the field is no longer visible. The person being checked keys in their SS# and scrolls way down so the field is no longer visible to find the SEND button. The key here is that the name and SS# values on never saved on the device, only on screen in the text fields.

    Clicking send starts a search of the NICS returning name, SS# and the prohibited person value. Each returned value compares to the name to the value in the name field and the SS# to the value in that field. If the values match and the prohibited value is false the graphics card turns the entire screen green. If they don’t match or the value is true, the entire screen is turned red. Interacting with the screen refreshes it. In this way only the graphics card of the device is reacting to the returned value. No record of the transaction is recorded on the device, nor is it returned to the NICS ensuring anonymity.

    Takes seconds, no record of the search or it’s results, no record of what the search was for, and can be used for guns, screening potential renters, research the guy your daughter just drove away with, etc. I know that I (and I’m sure most POTG) would love a way to ensure we are selling to approved people without the cost and expense of taking them to our LGS.

    Otherwise, if they are not going to fix the system the already have in place, I see no reason to trust them with any new method.

    • Driver’s license. I could use anybody’s SS#. Valid and current driver’s license, with up to date address from state of residence. Or state ID, same thing.

    • I could be a totally ‘clean’ NICS participant and purchase a firearm then wreck havoc with it. Want proof? – How many POS representatives are fulfilling their campaign promises or upholding their sworn duty to the Constitution?

      I could compel you to be a straw purchaser for me. You might think I’m wrong, but nobody holds out forever.

      NICS checks are bullshit window dressing.

      • No argument there. The main reason my original post won’t work . . . no records for the government to keep.

    • Replace BIDS with a purging of the MF’s hasseling you.

      Works every Fing time it’s been tried throughout history, and the results last a little while longer. The U.S. Revolution lasted ~ 180 years.

  14. We are just shy of twenty years with this system so I think that is plenty of time to analyze what it does, how well it has done it, and if continuing the process is worth while.

    By 2016 the system completed 27.5 million checks. The number has been increasing every year since the system was put in place so an average per year is not really relevant.

    In that same period it is reported there were 1.5 million fails. That is, rounding the math for easy presentation, 5%.

    That is just real rough, back of the envelope math. Some percentage of the fails were appealed so the percentage of blocks goes down.

    And as we all know there is nothing in the NICS system that compels a criminal to comply in any way. And add to that black-markets and criminal straw-purchasing and you have a ‘weak’ system. Add to that there is no way to know how many people who were denied a gun by the NICS system didn’t just use some other means to commit their crimes because as we all know the tool is not the cause.

    So just even at a casual evaluation you have a system that has, at best, a 5% success rate of doing what it claims to do.

    In the regular work-a-day world, a 5% success rate would be considered truly abysmal.

    In the government world, the one the ATF, FBI, and several other Alphabet agencies live in, 5% can be pretty amazing.

    Long story short (too late)….. The system is costing how much money to accomplish a success rate of only 5%? I think it’s time to end the system and try something else.

    • +++

      This. The system is VERY costly (its largesse even helps to fund other non-gun-related FBI programs), and the cost of “reliance” by the public (on this system) is starting to be measured in “Arlingtons”, for the number of Fing tombstones.

      How many people have to die to continue to fund the FBI’s 3-Card Monty scheme?

  15. The strategy of denying firearms to thrill killers and criminals is futile.

    Even if NICS could keep firearms out of the hands of mass shooters – and it cannot – mass shooters would still be a plague on society. These scumbags may be mentally ill, but to a man they have demonstrated adaptability, resourcefulness, and intelligence in exploiting the weaknesses of our society.

    Erstwhile mass shooters would simply change tactics and methods to satisfy their blood lust. Serial killing and explosives would become the new normals. Firearms are not essential to becoming notorious, and terrorizing the public.

    • LOGIC DICTATES: That any of the rest of us [NICS passed] “good citizens” could flip to the other side at any second and work diligently to OVERTURN THE APPLE CART, SET IT ON FIRE AND DANCE AROUND THE MF.

      The “system” clearly would fall to pieces if only 5-10 of us did a week (just to prove the point). Or 200 of us at any one time.


      W H E R E ‘ S

      O U R

      F _ C K I N G

      T H A N K

      Y O U

      ? ? ?


  16. Will the “fix” turn all NFA items into register tax and approve purchasers within 3 days?

    No? Then no.

  17. My vote would be to abolish the system. It consumes valuable resources while accomplishing next to nothing.

  18. Like any system, it is only as good as the data available for the check. If various state and federal organizations fail to supply the required data incidents like this are a potential outcome.

  19. When someone asks about keeping, improving, and/or expanding NICS and background checks for firearm purchases, we should respond as follows:
    (1) If someone among us is so dangerous that we ban them from purchasing firearms at dealers, why is the person among us? Remember, such a dangerous person can easily purchase or make all manner of weapons including knives, machetes, axes, swords, and clubs. Such a dangerous person can also easily steal a firearm or purchase a firearm from criminals and felons. Background checks do NOTHING in all of those cases.
    (2) And when someone replies that firearms enable felons to kill people more easily or faster than alternate weapons, ask them why the allegedly slower kill rate of alternate weapons is acceptable.

    Then close with these two statements:
    (1) The proper solution is isolating people from society after they have demonstrated contempt for mankind through heinous, violent attacks.
    (2) Prior restraint is NOT proper for other rights — neither is prior restraint (having to pass government screening before exercising a right) proper for acquiring, keeping, and bearing arms.

Comments are closed.