By David Codrea
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- Lessons learned from one man’s struggle to challenge a gun purchase denial from the National Instant Check System give insights into how difficult it can be for a citizen to clear his name once the government has decided he’s a “prohibited person.” Fortunately, an Anchorage medical professional and “avid gun collector” [name withheld at his request] had the savvy, the wherewithal and the persistence to successfully fight a bureaucratic denial of his right to arms.
A former U.S. Army officer with a clean record that includes not so much as a speeding ticket in the past 10 years, albeit with one inadvertent self-reported fish and game violation in 2004, the doctor attempted to purchase a rifle at Cabela’s in Anchorage Alaska in early November. His first background check was delayed and then it was denied a few days later.
As an aside, the doctor says he has purchased many firearms over the last decade with no trouble. He immediately filed an appeal letter online and after multiple tries at trying to reach a live human, got a recording saying FBI was currently evaluating appeals from August 2015, putting them one year and three months behind even looking at his appeal.
“This was unreasonable,” he noted with extreme understatement, “so I created a plan to expedite my appeal. I immediately filled out my appeal online when I received the denial.
“I contacted my congressman, Don Young, and his office sent a congressional inquiry to the FBI NICS,” the doctor continued. “And I completed my concealed carry course and turned in all the needed information to the background evaluation officer at the Alaska State Troopers. This agent evaluates your finger prints and other data to determine if you are eligible for your CCW permit. This agent also communicates with the FBI NICS.
“I sent another copy of my finger prints to NICS for evaluation,” he concluded. The end result was that the denial was overturned. The process took about four weeks vs. a year-and-a-half, but it required significant effort on my part.”
And the reason for the initial denial, for withholding a fundamental right for an undetermined period and without due process, and for making a citizen go through extraordinary measures, including recruiting the assistance of a United States Congressman in order to not get hung out to dry by a bureaucratic snafu?
“The fingerprints you submitted are not identical with those in a record used in the evaluation of your attempt to possess or receive a firearm,” a weasel-worded Department of Justice attempt at excuse-making without admitting fault (or heaven forbid apologizing for rejecting the wrong guy) offered as justification. “Based on further review and investigation, we have been able to determine you are eligible to possess or receive a firearm. The FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division’s NICS Section Firearm Appeal Certificate is enclosed.
“If more than 30 days have elapsed since the initial background check, the FBI must recheck the NICS before allowing the firearm transfer,” the letter warned.
Reading about how bureaucratically rigid and wrong the government can be may make for forehead-slapping and head-shaking, but to a person trapped in their errors, it’s no laughing matter. As Martin Luther King Jr. observed, “A right delayed is a right denied,” and that’s not supposed to happen under our Constitution without due process.
Researcher John Lott has documented the preponderance of “false positives” in his warnings against Brady background checks. That’s also a real danger in the latest bit of “bipartisan” rights denial being pushed under the “No Fly/No Buy” slogan. And it shows yet another downside to the Bloomberg “background check” mandates designed to end all private sales plus establish identifying data needed for a registration system (“Effectiveness depends on the ability to reduce straw purchasing, requiring gun registration…” — National Institute of Justice).
As noted, had this doctor been a person of lesser drive, someone who did not know how to go about righting a wrong and staying with it to completion, he’d still be in limbo. And there’s no guarantee the bureaucrats would make things right when they finally got around to trying to undo the sloppy work that led to the denial in the first place.
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.
In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.