FOIA Request Shows FBI Adding Non-Prohibited Buyers to NICS Preventing Gun Purchases

National Instant Criminal Background Check System NICS
FOIA Request Shows FBI Adding Non-Prohibited Buyers to NICS Preventing Gun Purchases

WASHINGTON, D.C.-( A Freedom of Information Act document request (FOIA) obtained by Gun Owners of America (GOA) shows that people who haven’t committed a crime that would not make them a prohibited person could still be put on the prohibited list.

The FOIA request (embedded below) shows that the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) considers anyone with a warrant for arrest to be a prohibited person. The person doesn’t even have to be aware that a judge issued a warrant for their arrest. The crime doesn’t even have to rise to the level of a violation of the law that would block a person from owning a gun.

The form reads: “The legal counsel of the DOJ, the ATF, and the FBI have agreed that a hit on any active criminal warrant involving a felony or misdemeanor criminal charge disqualifies an individual from receiving a firearm. The element of flight does not have to be determined at the time of the denial.”

According to the FBI, a fugitive from justice is defined as the following:

  • A person who has fled from any state to avoid prosecution for a felony or misdemeanor; or
  • A person who leaves the state to avoid giving testimony in any criminal proceeding; or
  • A person who knows that misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against him or her and who leaves the state of prosecution and does not appear before the prosecuting tribunal.

Let’s say the authorities obtain a video of a person doing donuts in a parking lot. The police issue a warrant for reckless endangerment. The FBI’s system considers that person a fugitive from justice even if they are not, and if that person goes to buy a gun, NICS will kick back a denial. The offense doesn’t have to rise to the level needed to strip a person of your gun rights, but you cannot buy a gun since there is a warrant out for that person.

FBI FOIA Request Shows the FBI Adding Non-Prohibited Buyers to NICS Redacted Paragraph
FBI FOIA Request Shows the FBI Adding Non-Prohibited Buyers to NICS Redacted Paragraph

The police have no obligation to inform a person of a warrant before that person becomes a prohibited person. NICS assumes that person is a fugitive from justice even if the FBI does not consider that person a fugitive from justice.

Since NICS will assume the buyer falls into one of the categories of a fugitive from justice, the person denied at the time purchase can appeal.

In the United States, we have a long tradition of “innocent until proven guilty,” but the FBI seems to take the opposite approach. The person who is denied has to provide the FBI with evidence that they have never fled the state.

This requirement equates to proving that a person never wore a red pair of shoes. The accuser insisting the person wore red shoes (in this case, the government is the accuser) doesn’t have to provide evidence. The person accused of wearing red shoes has to show proof that they have never worn red shoes. The task is almost impossible and one of the reasons the burden of proof falls on the accuser in legal cases.

To buy a gun from a gun dealer, the purchaser has to fill out a 4473 form. If the buyer is rejected because of an outstanding warrant, the FBI will notify the ATF that a prohibited person tried to buy a gun. This notification could lead to an investigation, and according to the FBI, the buyer has to prove that they never tried to flee the state.

To many, this FOIA shows why NICS is broken and beyond repair. It proves that background checks do not work and infringe on our rights as free people. With the current background check bills that passed the house and in the Senate, gun buyers might be facing more roadblocks in gun ownership.

FBI FOIA Request Shows the FBI Adding Non-Prohibited Buyers to NICS Redacted

About John Crump

John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at

John Crump

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Quite the catch-22 they’ve got going there. Accused of a crime (even minor misdemeanor) without even being notified, much less facing your accuser. Then attempt to purchase a firearm while entirely unaware of that accusation – only to face federal felony charges for simply visiting a friend in another state.

I know that ignorance of the law is not supposed to be a defense, but is ignorance of the facts acceptable?


That sure worked great in Colorado!! I think the FBI let’s some nut cases slip through so they can have a incident to further the Left’s agenda…….

Jeff Knox

This highlights one of the reasons we have always rejected the calls to “enforce the laws already on the books,” and “prosecute those people who lie on the 4473.” Many, if not most, of the prohibited persons who try to buy a gun, are unaware or unsure of their prohibited status, and are buying the gun for hunting, plinking, or other lawful purposes. I was issued a traffic citation in Maryland shortly before relocating to Arizona back in the ’80s. I forgot about the ticket, and the mail never caught up with me. Years later, my Arizona license renewal was… Read more »


Good for you, Jeff!

While I still miss Neal, you have been excellent.

It would be nice if the GOP would listen to you and stop being SQUISH scared all the time.

Dubi Loo

Our Constitution is dead, RIP USA


Atrophied to a near death comatose state due to lack of exercise. Biden is an appropriate metaphor.


and Cruikshank got THIS part wrong: the prohibition against infringements of our ribht to arms is NOT restriced to government alone, per the Article itself. WHERE in that text is this even hinted? NOWHERE< tha’ts where. Shall not be infringed.. not by anyone any time any place for ay reason or no reason at all.

No One Worth Watching

Just another way for The Fibbies to trap innocent victims. Why go after real crime and criminals (Hillary, Hunter, rogue agencies/agents and phony FISA warrants, etc.) when the citizens are such easy pickins’?


Any law they can write, any rule they can add or change, just so the outcome ends up being that you can’t have a gun is all they want including increasing penalties making misdemeanors felonies.
It’s all for the children you know.


No power or authority has ever been granted to or taken by a government and not been abused.


Seems like a civil rights lawsuit, denied protected civil right. Whoever put this into policy needs to be sued individually. This should pierce qualified immunity that the SCOUS has started to allow again.
If we hold the individuals responsible they might start to follow the law.


And how many burglaries, robberies, and murders have happened because criminals need to steal firearms instead of buying over the counter?


parking ticket ,or toll on a car you own ,or if a plate is stolen and used on a car that runs up tolls had that fight my plate on a toyota registered to a dodge truck, had to sue the camera people for the fines


I knew it… I knew this was happening. What a crock. This is how they will criminalize and deny non-felons. I’m certain that anyone with as much as as an outstanding traffic ticket on their record will be denied.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rodoeo