MARTINSBURG, WV –-(Ammoland.com)- AmmoLand News learned through a leaked Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) conference call that the agency is starting to run gun buyers retroactively through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
In the conference call, the ATF leadership asked its Industry Operations Inspectors (IOI) to collect information on the customers that used concealed carry permits instead of obtaining a background check through the NICS. The purpose of obtaining this information would be to run the customer’s data through the NICS to see if the customer would have received an approved or denied status. In addition, the IOI will pass on the names and information of customers denied by the NICS to the criminal branch for a special agent to follow up.
Some states, such as Alaska, allow gun buyers to use their concealed carry permits to buy a gun instead of being subjected to a background check through NICS. Gun buyers in these states believe that using a concealed carry permit to purchase firearms gives them a level of anonymity that the NICS doesn’t provide.
The information from the firearms background check paperwork (ATF Form 4473) is not submitted to the FBI when the customer uses their permit. Before the new policy, the only time the government would know a person bought a gun is when the FFL goes out of business, a trace request is submitted, or the customer buys multiple handguns within a seven-day period.
Congress wrote an exemption to the mandated background check using the NICS into the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in 1998. However, the ATF has not been a fan of states letting their citizens use their concealed carry permits to buy guns without going through the NICS. In fact, the ATF has told states like Michigan that they can no longer use the concealed carry permit exemption.
According to the Brady Act, states can let gun buyers use concealed carry permits instead of going through the NICS if the permit meets or exceeds the NICS requirements, and the issuing agency performs a background check on the permit applicant using the NICS. However, even though states like Michigan meet all the conditions laid out in the Brady Act for a NICS exemption, The ATF had an issue with how some issuing agencies implemented the law.
Some sheriffs used the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) to perform background checks instead of the NICS. The NCIC database is where the NICS database pulls most of its information. They claimed since that the sheriffs were not following the proper procedure, that the FFLs of the state could not use the concealed carry permit to buy a gun.
Gun Owners of America (GOA) sued the ATF over their decision to revoke the NICS exemption for Michigan and other states. GOA claimed that the ATF did not have the right to reinterpret the Brady Act law. The ATF stopped revoking exemption status for states once the lawsuits started to be filed in multiple states by the gun rights organization.
It seems like the ATF has found another way to run customers through the NICS. Unfortunately, the ATF would not provide AmmoLand News a comment.
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 www.crumpy.com.