The NICS is a name check system that queries available records in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the Interstate Identification Index (III), and the NICS Indices to determine if prospective firearm purchasers are disqualified from receiving or possessing firearms.
If you believe you have been wrongfully denied a firearm transfer or pawn redemption, you may request an appeal. Some individuals may find they are continuously delayed when purchasing or redeeming firearms. Others may successfully appeal a NICS denial but still experience extended delays or erroneous denials on subsequent transactions. The Voluntary Appeal File (VAF) was established to assist in these types of situations by providing a way for an individual to request that NICS maintain information to clarify their identity or past events to prevent future extended delays or erroneous denials on firearm transfers.
Individuals attempting to purchase firearms who experience extended delays or erroneous denials may apply to be considered for entry into the VAF by signing an applicant statement that authorizes the NICS Section to retain information that would otherwise be destroyed upon the approval of the firearm transaction. A fingerprint card is also required when applying for VAF.
A complete NICS check is still required for future purchases and will result in a denial if additional prohibitive information is discovered. The NICS Section is required to destroy any records submitted to the VAF upon written request of the individual.
A VAF application and fingerprint form can be obtained online (below), by emailing a request to [email protected], or by mailing a request to the FBI, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, NICS Section, NICS Functional Support Team, Module A-1, Post Office Box 4278, Clarksburg, WV 26302-4278.
Reasons NICS Background Checks are Denied or Delayed
A “Denied” message from the NICS indicates the subject of a NICS background check has been matched with a similar name and similar descriptive information of a record containing a state or federal prohibition.
A “Delayed” message from the NICS indicates the subject of a NICS background check has been matched with a similar name and similar descriptive information associated with a record containing a potential state or federal firearm prohibition. The NICS Section must obtain additional information before making a final determination of a Proceed or Denied for the firearm transfer. The NICS Section is afforded three business days in which to conduct this research. If the NICS Section is unable to provide either a Proceed or Denied response to the Federal Firearms Licensee within three business days, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 does not prohibit the Federal Firearms Licensee, or FFL, from transferring the firearm; however, the FFL is not required to do so.
A federal prohibition would exist for any person who:
- Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
- Is a fugitive from justice
- Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance
- Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution
- Is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States or who has been admitted to the United States under a non-immigrant visa
- Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions
- Having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced U.S. citizenship
- Is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner
- Has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
- Is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
In addition to federally prohibitive criteria, the NICS must delay or deny firearm transfers based on applicable state law.
A delayed transaction will be purged from the NICS within 88 days from creation. The NICS Section recommends that you wait 30 days from the date initiating the check prior to filing an appeal on a delay to give the NICS Section’s staff time to complete the initial transaction. If your original background check is completed, the Federal Firearm Licensee will be notified with a final status.
More information is available HERE.