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NICs – National Instant Criminal Background Check System

The right to bear arms is a fundamental liberty enshrined via the 2nd amendment in the United States Constitution. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is portrayed as a safeguard when purchasing a firearm. However, when balancing public safety with individual freedoms, a person’s civil liberties and constitutional rights can be violated.

How It Works

When purchasing a firearm from a gun shop, pawn shop or other Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs), NICs is used for a background check on the firearm purchaser. This applies not just to guns, but also to the purchase of explosives. Using NICs is a way to quickly determine if the purchaser is eligible to buy a firearm.

The system works by the firearm buyer first filling out ATF Form 4473. Then the FFL, be it a pawn shop or gun shop etc., will initiate a background check using NICs through a phone or a computer. In most cases, this procedure generally will take only a few minutes. If however, no determination is made in 3 days, then the purchaser is considered lawful to make the firearm purchase.

However, the NICs system isn’t perfect, and many times a law abiding citizen may be singled out as unqualified to buy a firearm. If you feel you have been wrongly singled out as unlawful to buy a firearm, then you do have recourse to oppose this decision.

Prohibited Persons

NICs screens for potential firearm buyers who are not qualified to buy a gun (as outlined under the Brady Act).

Individuals who may be disqualified via NICs can include those who:

Committed a felony

Domestic violence

Fugitives from justice

Controlled substance abuse

Certain restraining orders

Illegal aliens

Renunciation of U.S. citizenship

Committed to a mental institution

Veterans that have been dishonorably discharged



The NICs system can result in violating the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens by being denied the right to purchase a firearm even when they have broken no laws.

No system is perfect, and not all information provided by NICs is correct.


Misc. Info

-All approved inquiries to transfers of firearms are by law destroyed within 24 hours. Thus, NICs cannot be used as a means of developing a firearm registry.

-Private firearm sales between individuals as well as firearms purchased at gun shows are generally not required to use the NICs system.


We can work on your behalf with incorrect and insufficient NICs records and background checks. If you feel your rights have been violated when trying to purchase a firearm, or if your criminal record is incorrect, our lawyers have the knowledge and experience in firearm law, as well as with any inaccuracies in the NICs system records. Call us at 888.399.7863 or email us at


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