FBI Threatens Shutdown of Gun Purchase Background Checks as Massive Surge in Sales Creates Backlog
A 300% spike in gun purchases has overwhelmed the FBI office in charge of the National Instant Background Criminal Background Check System, leading to them considering temporarily shutting down in some areas.
A shutdown of the system would stop or delay new gun sales.
As the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Section works through the impact of the COVID-19 operationally, we are working to maintain our services. We are aware that states may be considering options to protect the health and safety of their employees, which may include a reduction in office availability or even closure to some offices,” the FBI office said in a statement.
The Washington Examiner reports that the National Shooting Sports Foundation said checks surged 300% on Monday, after already hitting historic highs all year.
“Monday, March 16, 2020, the NICS staff experienced over a 300% increase compared to this same time period in 2019. As we’ve seen in the past with other national events, our citizens often seek to exercise their Second Amendment rights during times of uncertainty,” the NSSF said.
The NSSF statement continued on to say that “according to NICS, there are delays in the system due to an astronomical volume of transactions over the last several days. While much of the NICS System is automated and yields an immediate ‘proceed’ or ‘deny’ determination, transactions that result in a delayed status require the work of NICS examiners to investigate whether the transaction should be approved or not. With daily volumes roughly double that of last year, the NICS team is unable to begin investigations on all delays within three business days, creating a backlog in the delayed checks.”
The organization continued on to say that some states and agencies are “considering options to protect the health and safety of their employees, which may include a reduction in staff or a temporary closure.”
The NSSF also warned that the Brady transfer date after a sale may now be extended beyond the three business days that it normally takes.
“The three business day timeframe does not begin until relevant state offices are open for business,” the statement continued. “Additionally, because of the dramatic increase in volume, it is important to recognize FBI staff may not be able to begin their research on delayed transactions as they normally would. Therefore, you may want to consider waiting on a definitive response from the NICS before opting to proceed with a sale on any delayed transaction. We are operating during exceptional and uncertain times, so you may wish to consider implementing temporary changes in order to safeguard yourself and your business. However, please note that when state offices are closed it does not constitute a ‘business day’ for purposes of calculating the “three business days” period before an FFL may transfer a firearm to a non-licensee as mandated by the Brady Act.”