Citizen Persistence after NICS Gun Purchase Block Results in Overturn of Denial

By David Codrea

Our bad — but your problem.

USA – -( 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.

Rep. Don Young sent inquiry to FBI.

“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.

They had.

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.

A “happy ending” — that should have never had a beginning.
David Codrea in his natural habitat.

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.

  • 26 thoughts on “Citizen Persistence after NICS Gun Purchase Block Results in Overturn of Denial

    1. I received a pardon from the common wealth of va. I purchased a gun right after and it went through with a 72 hour delay. The next time I picked up the gun and then got a call after having possession of the firearm that my check was denied. In order to reduce friction i returned the firearm to the FFL. Now going through the appeals process. Stupid part is my Enhanced Concealed carry letter came on the same day saying it is approved. In Idaho you can bypass nics because of the Enhanced… Funny how that works…. Point is I am going to go and still wait for the appeals to “Do it right”…. Crazy amount of friction for a right… Nice writeup.

    2. I did probation 98-08 possession of marijuana state case in texas squeaky clean sense then, my probation officer told me my rights was restored after I completed probation , in 2009 I went to purchase a weapon and got it, and several afterwards according to the application 4473 I’m Exempt because my rights have been restored, it’s now 2019 4 guns total and on Feb 18th 2019 I was denied, reason a convicted felon cannot own a gun, again according to the application I’m exempt it’s in black and white, I’m lost on what to do I challenge they decision Thru email only, THERES no one to ask questions to, also I’ve gotten My Ccw twice in 10 years. It expires 2023 the atf form 4473 purchase application asks are you a convicted felon but it’s an exception if your rights has been restored in Missouri your rights are automatically restored after completion, how can I contact them or fix this

    3. I recently went to purchase a xd9 from turners out here in cali had bought a ruger 357 in 2014 no problem now it’s been 2 weeks and still nothing regarding my delay not sure what’s going on pretty annoying annoying & inconvenient to my 2d rights is taking it up with my congressman after the 30 days have past the best route once a appeal is in progress on my part ps turners stated they got a letter but I have yet got a paper stating the delay ?

    4. I have a Felony assault reduced to a misdemeanor assault 0ver 20 years ago and got denied because they claim I lived with this person wich was not true. My old ID or Drivers license proves I didn’t this there but they would not listen to me. I even showed the court papers to the owners of the gun shop and they were puzzled is to how I could be denied a fire arm. Can someone please give advice. Thanks. [email protected]

    5. Here’s a real kicker for you. I was so tired of being delayed on about every other firearms purchase I have made since purchasing my first 1911 back in 2006 and was DENIED! So I go through the appeals process and got my letter stating I am legally able to own/purchase a firearm. So I then go through the pain in the butt process and get my UPIN number.
      Had to pay I forget how much plus cost and time to go to local sheriff and get finger prints. After all that I finally get my UPIN#. And still get delayed darn near every other time I purchase a firearm! It’s getting really old. Now…just this last week I was short on bills and pawned one of my cheaper pistols. I went to get it out a couple days later and NICS check comes back delayed. OK I’ll be back in a couple days when they call with a proceed like they have always done. 2 days later they call me up…DENIED!

      Now I’m just sick and tired of this crap! Not only do I have to appeal this crud…but I have to pay interest while my pistol is held hostage.

    6. Thank you for writing this, it helped me so much. I was flat out denied even though I’ve never been arrested so I contacted my congress women and did all the steps you mentioned and within two weeks I was cleared.

    7. Has anyone else had any luck with the appeals process? I was denied 4-16-2017 and quickly got on filing an appeal. At this point I’m 30 days out… Has it taken anyone else shorter than 1 yr plus?

      The sad part is that I’ve purchased firearms using NICS checks from all FFL’s over the past decade. Now the firearm that I was denied on sits in limbo because, I’ve already paid for it because it was a “special order.” Being that its a rather pricey firearm geared just for competition shooting, it’s not exactly something the FFL that has custody of the fireare can just sell on a whim. I’m a competitive shooter, this kind of effects me on multiple levels as I plan on purchasing a new set of firearms for the upcoming season and training during the off season. I’m hoping to get this matter resolved in a rather timely fashion.

      Has it take everyone else 1yr +?

      1. I couldn’t get any response or traction for almost 6 months and contacted multiple lawyers. I contacted my congresswoman and Senator and got my appeal processed within a few weeks. I’m not sure which one actually got through to the FBI but it worked.

      2. Going on 2 years of waiting for me and i have uploaded every document to prove my case and I think it’s bullshit

      3. Oct of 2017 I was denied and appealed immediately.. fingerprints the whole 9 yards ., letter came back I had a felony when in fact it was a felony reduced to a E class misdemeanor 21 years ago now. My record print out says felony ALL OVER IT .. til you get to the very end and says correction to misdemeanor.. but apparently they don’t read that far down.. been a year and 5-6 months .no end in sight

    8. Thank you for writing this article. I was erroneously denied in WA state on Feb 23rd, 2017. I was trying to purchase a single action revolver (for protection in bear country) and a bolt action hunting rifle at the same time (same NTN).

      Interestingly, I paid for the guns and was given a delay at the FFL when they submitted my info. I didn’t think much of it (happens every time except once) but unfortunately I was busy and didn’t pick them up on my scheduled proceed day. I showed up two days late, just a few hours after the ATF had called the FFL to say I had been denied (8 days after my info was submitted). I wish I had gotten them in my possession before they called the FFL so I could have dealt with the ATF directly on the matter.

      I actually already have my concealed pistol license … and because of this article I have also contacted my representative, Dem – Rick Larsen. I submitted my online appeal to NCIS immediately upon receiving the denial, but like the author said, the NCIS website states they are currently processing appeals from August 2015.

      I feel like my rights as a law-abiding American citizen are clearly being violated. I also feel like I won’t have the tools I need for the WDFW hunting tags I already paid for, which is just unacceptable haha.

      I have other firearms in my possession, are those safe? Or will I get a knock at the door from the ATF for those too? I feel very small going up against a bureaucracy in this case. At least this article gives me hope.

      1. i am in Washington state as well and got denied back in January 2017. i filed all the appeal paperwork with fingerprint card and have not heard anything and when i call NICS all they tell me is they are processing appeals from August 2015. I have 3 different CPL, WA, OR, UT and even had my WA one reissued after the denial to make sure there was no issue with me carrying. the WA replacement came back clean with no issues.

        i have written a first draft of a letter and plan to send it off to my local representative on Monday. plan to call his office as well and see if he can provide any assistance. Let me know if you have any luck with yours or get any help from your local rep.

        what pisses me off the most is they are denying me my right without giving me a way to prove them are wrong. typical guilty until proven innocent BS.

        1. Hi Andy, I am in WA state and had a false positive denial as well back in Nov/2016. I have filed all the appeals and really frustrated that there is no appeal process. I know the NICS website says there is but they have been reviewing “Aug 2015” cases for the past year and a half now so it’s safe to say no one is looking at the appeals. I’ve spoken to multiple lawyers and they don’t seem to have any answers either. Have you heard anything from your representatives? I was thinking of going that route as well and if you had any tips? Thanks.

          1. I’m in Michigan. I was denied , filed immediately.. was told I was prohibited. Sent fingerprints and all info. Turns out mine was due to a misdemeanor that was put on my record as a FELONY! I corrected this once already 10 years ago .. took 2 weeks to deny me , had the courthous fax the paperwork showing the correction, the FBI must have stopped reading as soon as they seen felony. Had they read on they would have seen the correction.. well I’m still waiting for them to send me the reversal. 2 weeks to deny me , who knows how long to admit a mistake

            1. Contact Donna at Michigan State Police in Lansing. After you prove the local Michigan Court error, she will remove the flag on your file and new checks will clear.

              Benn there, done that… Got the T-shirt… and my gun!

      2. I also have a carry conceal permit in Delaware and a Pennsylvania non resident Permit, paid in full for 2 firearms delivered to our local gun store/FFL. filled out my 4473 , was put on a delay for 2 days then denied. its been 13 months now and I just reached out to our state Senator for help. I own multiple firearms and am also very frustrated by this mess. hopefully this nightmare will come to an end and the FBI can get this NICS bullshit fixed. when I lived in Pa. background checks were handled by the State Police not the Feds … that’s the way it should be!

    9. I’m still without my NICS 40 months after it was [illegally]revoked by Ontario County,New York State,the federal government,courtesy of my ex wife.No word from my lawyer in last 3 months either.
      Judge Siragusa in [Rochester]federal court is sitting on his thumbs.
      I’m not only denied being able to buy or trade for modern firearms,I’m also screwed out of employment locally and nationwide.I am desperately trying to exit New York State ASAP.
      I’ll take help from anyone,to get this resolved.

    10. Why are the feds even looking at his fingerprints? I have made a lot of firearm purchases over the years, and never had to submit fingerprints when filling out the form 4473 nonsense. I see he mentions ccw, but why was that turned into the atf? And I thought alaska was now constitutional carry? Does alaska allow conceal carry bg checks instead of the fed bg check process? If this isn’t an example supporting giiving the atf as little info as possible, then I don’t know what is.

      Good to see cases like this documented for when leftists ask what it hurts to have a bg check procress.

      1. As I understand it: He did not submit prints until after the rejection and he got them for his CCW. He wanted additional evidence to challenge the denial. That means the original rejection looks like it was based on confusing him with someone else who was prohibited and whose prints were thus in one of the system they had checked — and when the dr. sent his in, they realized they did not match with the source they had used to reject him.

    11. @minute-man – Re: the influence of TV. That character Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds has the ‘goods’ on everybody via a few keystrokes on her computer. She knows everything about everybody. She’s laying the foundation for what all the ‘statists’ would like the citizenry to accept as normal.

    12. The US Government, in it’s actions for the last 50 or more years has changed me from being an eternal optimist, to the most cynical kind of pessimist you will likely ever encounter. ….And -THEY- DID IT.
      It is lie, after lie, after lie coming from Washington DC. 24/7/365 -all day, every day.
      All generated to MANIPULATE the ignorant SHEEP that are the majority population of this country.

      Except for the few of us who caught on to their deceit.
      As for me, I have not had TV feed into my house in over twenty years. See, I caught on long ago to the constant flow of subtle propaganda constantly coming through that electronic mind control device. And now the controllers have upped the ante, and introduced the finest mind control money can buy for the sheeple; cellphones, ‘I-pads’. ‘I-pods’, ‘tablets’, and ‘laptops’ for the ‘convenience’ of being DISTRACTED anywhere you happen to be in life. On vacation, in class, while driving,…

      That way, (they think) they can do anything they want behind your back without anyone the wiser…
      “move along now folks, nothing to see here…” -OH, REALLY..?

      1. @minute-man, Government screws everything up. Yes, it is so. Somewhere along the time line the Federal government forgot that it is their duty to protect the nation and its civil rights. At some point, the Federal government began to believe that its duty is to control the nation and our civil rights was an impediment to that control. Then the Federal government found out that they could ignore our civil rights because on the day after the election (any given election), the people no longer had any control over them.
        Absent control over the politicians, they politicized the judiciary, politicized the agencies,politicized the media, politicized law enforcement, and are trying to politicize the electoral college.
        We now have before us a chance to regain control over our politicians, judiciary, agencies, and the electoral collect. It is a once in a life time chance to obtain term limits, the right of recall over corrupt politicians, judges, agency heads; and make the Congress subject to their own laws. Most importantly, we have a chance of a lifetime to reorient the Federal government back to their original duties to protect us and our civil rights.

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