Exclusive Guide On Background Checks For Gun Buyers

Background Checks For Gun Buyers
DELRAY BEACH, FL - JANUARY 05: Mark O'Connor fills out his Federal background check paperwork as he purchases a handgun at the K&W Gunworks store on the day that U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, DC announced his executive action on guns on January 5, 2016 in Delray Beach, Florida. President Obama announced several measures that he says are intended to advance his gun safety agenda. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Overview Of Background Checks For Gun

For many years, it was possible to buy a gun without any questions being asked. You could go into any local retail store, and as long as you hadn’t been convicted of a felony, there’s not much else that would stop someone from purchasing a gun. 

But times are different now! Depending on where you live in the U.S. and what kind of gun you want to buy, you may be required by NICS to pass a gun background check before you can make a purchase. 

History of Gun Background Checks

After the assassination of the US president John F. Kennedy, Congress approved the Gun Control Act in 1968 as a response to the tragedy. This Act made it illegal for some people to purchase firearms, including those who were on the run from the law. And also for those who had been convicted of crimes that carried a sentence of a year or more in jail and those who had been involved in domestic violence and substance abuse cases.

The Act was made to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them because of their age, criminal history, or lack of skill.

Under the new law, the following groups were prohibited from purchasing firearms:

  • Dishonorably removed from military services
  • Found to be mentally unfit
  • Consumers of illegal substances  

After press secretary Jim Brady was killed during an attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was passed in 1993. Brady Law requires Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders to conduct a NICS firearm background check on people purchasing guns. 

FBI’s Background Check For Gun Purchase

When it comes to getting background check data, the public sector, specifically the FBI, seems to hold a particular allure. Due to its reputation around the world as a prestigious intelligence-driven national security organization, the FBI seems like a natural choice as a top background check provider.

The FBI flags everything that makes a person too dangerous to carry lethal firearms in the eyes of the law. Criminal and mental health histories, negative military deployments, illegal immigrant status, an open warrant, a recorded history of domestic abuse, and drug usage are examples of such factors. 

For more information, check out this article, where the author discusses why the FBI is the best choice for background screening. 

National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is a national database that dealers use to run gun background checks on potential gun buyers. The sale is automatically denied if an FFL holder attempts to run a background check and the buyer’s name appears in the NICS database.

The NICS system was created in 1993 as part of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. Since its inception, it has prevented over 3 lakhs of gun sales to prohibited persons. Their database covers people who have been convicted of a felony, involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, or found to be a danger to themselves or others. 

There has been some debate about whether or not the NICS system is effective in preventing gun violence. However, there is no denying that it has prevented many gun sales to people who should not have them. For that reason, it remains an important part of our nation’s background check system for gun buyers.  

Working Process Of Gun Background Checks

To purchase a firearm from a licensed firearms dealer (FFL), you are required to fill out a 4473 Form (also known as the Firearms Transaction Record). After completing the form, the person selling you a firearm will run your details through NICS.

NICS background checks take roughly 30 seconds to complete. You can proceed if your record does not restrict you from purchasing a firearm. However, if your history disqualifies you, you are not permitted to acquire a firearm.

Under the Brady Act, if there is anything in your history that requires additional examination, the FBI will take three business days to get back to you (excluding the day they ran your original background check). If the FBI does not approve or refuse you within three business days, you can go ahead and buy a gun. 

When Is A Background Check For Gun Is Required

So, what does a gun background check show? For starters, it will reveal any felony convictions that you have on your record. 

All gun sellers are required to have a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and are legally obligated to run a background check on any non-licensed person to whom they sell a firearm, even if it’s some used guns. In addition, they should keep a record of the results of the check.

If the seller is a retailer provider, background checks are required in any of the following scenarios: 

  • Purchasing a handgun in a store
  • Purchasing a handgun at a gun show
  • Purchasing a weapon online
  • Purchasing a firearm through a magazine.

Factors That Reject One From Purchasing A Gun

According to FBI regulations, you cannot purchase a gun if you are

  • Convicted of a felony carrying a penalty of more than one year or a misdemeanor carrying a sentence of more than two years
  • A wanted fugitive or a drug addict
  • Diagnosed with mental illness, which may involve being involuntarily committed, declared not guilty due to insanity, or deemed unable to stand trial.
  • Illegally residing in the United States
  • Discharged from the military with a negative record
  • Has a restraining order (this might mean that they were found guilty of threatening, harassing, or abusing their spouse or their child)
  • Convictions for domestic abuse
  • Have renounced American citizenship 


Whether you are a firearms dealer or just an individual looking to purchase a gun, it is essential that you understand the process and what is required of you. Also, we hope that you have found this guide to be helpful and informative. 

If you have any questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Take care, be responsible and stay safe!

Read Also : Benefits of Having Criminal Background Checks Completed on All New Hires