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Reasons You Can Be Denied a Firearm Transfer

Background Check Required to Legally Buy a Gun


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Since the passage of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, anyone who purchases a firearm in the United States must submit to a background check to determine if they are eligible to legally buy and possess a gun.

License gun dealers must check each person who tries to buy a firearm through the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). On average, only about one percent of firearms transfers are denied by the NICS system, mainly because most convicted criminals already know they are not eligible to own a gun.

If you are concerned about being turned down for a firearms transfer, you may want to take the Firearms Transfer Background Check Quiz before you attempt a purchase.

Prohibitive Criteria for Firearm Transfers

Under federal law, there are specific reasons that a firearm transfer can be denied. If you have had a firearm transfer denied, it is because you or someone else with a similar name or descriptive features has ever been:

  • Convicted of a felony. Convicted in any court of a crime which in punishable by a term of more than one year or a misdemeanor punishable by more than two years.
  • Indicted for a crime punishable by more than one year.
  • A fugitive from justice.
  • A user of illegal drugs or an addict.
  • Involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
  • An illegal alien.
  • Dishonorably discharged from the armed forces.
  • Renounced your U.S. citizenship.
  • Subject to a restraining order for threatening a family member.
  • Convicted of domestic violence.

State Laws Come Into Play Also

The NCIS can also deny a firearm transfer based on any applicable state laws. For example, if your state has a law prohibiting the possession of a specific type of firearm, the NICS can deny your transfer even though possession of that firearm is not prohibited by federal law.

The Brady Law was designed to make sure that only law-abiding citizens can purchase and own firearms, but critics claim that the law only created a huge black-market demand for illegal guns sales to criminals.

Appealing a Firearm Transfer Denial

If you try to purchase a gun and you recieve a firearms transfer denial during the background check, you can appeal that denial if you do not meet any of the above criteria and you believe a mistake has been made.

Approximately, one percent of firearms transfers are denied and many times it because of mistaken identity or incorrect records at NICS. Therefore, many firearms transfer denial appeals are successful.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services Division. "Guide for Appealing a Firearm Transfer Denial." Revised March 2007.

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