RICHMOND, VA –-(Ammoland.com)- A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Gun Owners of America (GOA) shows that the Commonwealth of Virginia incorrectly added over 46,000 of its citizens to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) indices.
According to Virginia State law, anyone who is voluntarily committed to a mental institution loses their gun rights. Only potential buyers who have been committed involuntarily or have been will lose their gun rights federally. Even though they lose their state gun rights, they are not prohibited from buying firearms by federal law.
The Virginia State Police will also run the potential buyer through NICS in addition to a state database. The State Police also can add people prohibited from buying guns by state law to the NICS Indices. If a buyer is not permitted to purchase firearms by state law because of a “voluntarily admission to a mental institution as a per Virginia statute,” then that person’s database entry should be marked as PCA “J.” If a buyer is prohibited by federal law for being “adjudicated as a mental defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institution” then that person’s database entry should be marked as PCA “D.”
Virginia is a single point of contact state. Being a single point of contact state means that federally licensed firearms dealers in the Commonwealth contact the Virginia State Police to run a background check on a potential buyer. If a state is not a single point contact state, the dealer will contact the FBI to run the buyer through NICS.
GOA filed a FOIA request with the FBI to get the results of the agency’s NICS audits of the Commonwealth of Virginia. All single point of contact states must submit to NICS audits. Gun Owners o America exclusively shared the results of the FOIA request with AmmoLand News. For full disclosure, the writer of this article is the Virginia State Director for GOA.
The FBI NICS audit showed the Virginia State Police was marking everyone a PCA “D” that has been committed to a mental institution regardless of whether it was voluntarily or involuntarily.
This mistake means that the Virginia State Police incorrectly added over 46,000 residents to the NICS indices as federally prohibited.
If any one of these people who the Virginia State Police marked incorrectly in the NICS indices moved to a different state and tried to buy a firearm, the FBI would deny them. The person would be considered a “prohibited” person and would have to prove that they are not prohibited from purchasing a gun.
The problem centered around the Virginia Police IT System automatically marking everyone submitted to NICS for being committed to a mental institution as a PCA “D.” The system didn’t have the ability to mark residents as PCA “J.”
Someone from the State Police who spoke to AmmoLand News, off the record, claims this mistake was an oversight by the State Police since the developers were never told about the different categories!?
The FBI requested a list of people incorrectly entered into the NICS indices. The Virginia State Police responded to the FBI with the list of the 46,000+ people. The Virginia State Police also requested verification that being committed to a mental institution voluntarily did not prohibit a person from buying a gun federally.
The FOIA doesn’t show if the IT system has been fixed. The Virginia State Police didn’t verify with AmmoLand News that the system had been corrected. An employee of the State Police that isn’t authorized to speak to the media confirmed to AmmoLand News that the system had been fixed.
Gun Owners of America considers the audit results as an example of the dangers of background checks. Even when no malice is intended, people can incorrectly end up on the NICS indices as a prohibited person. As we have seen time and again the majority of NICS denials are false positives.
The FBI didn’t respond if this was an isolated incident or if these mistakes have been made in other states across the Country, like say… New Jersey?
Virginia Incorrectly Adds 46,000 Citizens To FBI’s NICS Prohibited Person List GOA FOIA
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.