Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

GAO Finds Faults With FBI`s NICS Operation

Thursday, March 9, 2000

Results of a recently released General Accounting Office (GAO) investigation into the FBI`s implementation and operation of the National Instant Check System (NICS)--the national database containing records of persons who are disqualified from receiving firearms--indicate that several significant failures of the Clinton-Gore Administration have prevented the system from performing as Congress intended.

GAO performed the study at the request of U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.). In a March 8, 2000, press release, Sen. Thomas said: "The report paints a sobering picture of a failure by federal agencies to enforce existing gun laws as Congress intended. The result is that the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens are being infringed upon while too often criminals seep through without consequence."

In 1993 Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act that called for the FBI to create the National Instant Check System. The system was to be designed to screen criminal history records instantly--without any waiting period--on all customers attempting to make firearms purchases from federally licensed firearms dealers. Since 1995, Congress has allocated more than 300 million of taxpayer dollars to upgrade those records in order that the "instant check" system live up to its name.

The FBI`s "Instant Check" Often Isn`t "Instant" for Honest Citizens

The GAO report (www.gao.gov/new.items/g100064.pdf) shows that the system failed to provide "instant" checks 28% of the time, adversely affecting the rights of nearly 1.2 million law-abiding citizens. Nearly one-quarter of the citizens who appealed had their denials reversed. Those wrongful denials, GAO reports, were caused by FBI examiner error in 42% of the cases.

Congress has exhaustively debated waiting periods and has made clear its will. When it established the permanent instant check provision in the Brady Act, it made no provision for a "delayed" response. The "delayed" response concept was invented only later in Department of Justice-created regulations--regulations that fail to acknowledge the statutory mandate that the Attorney General establish an "instant" check with information "to be supplied immediately."

Lack of Prosecutions of Criminals Who Slip Through The System

During first 13 months of NICS operation, the FBI notified the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) that 3,353 prohibited persons had received guns. GAO`s audit shows, however, that BATF is investigating only 3% of those cases of illegal firearms possession. As of the end of last September, 31,292 NICS denials had been referred to BATF field offices, but BATF officials told GAO that almost half of those cases were closed without prosecution or even investigation.

In preparing their report, GAO investigators visited U.S. Attorneys Offices in four cities--Atlanta, Dallas, Denver and Seattle--during the Fall of 1999 to examine prosecutions of Brady Act-related cases. In Atlanta, they found the U.S. Attorney had received three cases and "declined them because of lack of jury appeal." In Denver, two cases had been received and declined. The U.S. Attorney in Seattle had received not one Brady case for prosecution." In Dallas, 14 Brady cases were received by the U.S. Attorney, who accepted 13 for prosecution. The Clinton-Gore Administration continues to hold up the Brady Act as an effective crime-fighting tool, but it can`t explain why the felons, drug dealers, stalkers and fugitives who committed multiple felonies in attempting to buy guns from federally licensed dealers simply are not being sent to prison.

Failure to Provide Routine Security Standards

"Although NICS has been operational for 15 months, it has yet to be authorized as secure in accordance with Justice`s own requirements, and attempts to do so have been delayed," GAO says. According to Justice Department officials, "the completion of security testing was overshadowed by more urgent issues directly impacting the system`s ability to function; therefore, security testing was delayed."

Security testing still hasn`t been conducted. GAO investigators note: "In light of the system vulnerabilities that were identified before the system went operational and the delays experienced to date in authorizing the system, the FBI continues to lack an adequate basis for knowing whether NICS assets (hardware, software, and data) are sufficiently secure and are not vulnerable to corruption and unauthorized access."

GAO`s investigators conclude that: "Further delays in authorizing NICS will expose the system and the data it processes about individuals to unnecessary risk. Therefore, it is extremely important that the FBI fulfill its commitment to authorize NICS by March 31, 2000."

Privacy Act Exemptions

This lack of security is doubly troubling since the Department of Justice has exempted the FBI`s NICS operation from certain provisions of the Privacy Act of 1974. The Privacy Act sets rules that federal agencies must follow regarding records containing personally identifiable information. When asked for "estimated costs of adhering to the Privacy Act," Bureau officials refused to provide an estimate, saying only that such costs--costs to ensure citizens` privacy--"would be considerable."

Failure to Meet FBI`s Own Accountability Standards

The FBI has specified a system availability--defined as the time that the system is operating satisfactorily--requirement of 98%, but during its first year of operation, NICS failed to meet that standard in eight out of 12 months.

System "Crashes" Cost Small Businessmen Millions

Through September 1999, the FBI identified more than 360 unscheduled outages associated with NICS. During its first year of operation, more than 215 hours of downtime occurred. No estimate was provided on how many millions of dollars small firearms retailers may have suffered in lost sales due to NICS "crashes."

IN THIS ARTICLE
Background Checks/NICS
TRENDING NOW
NYSRPA Case Exposes Biden’s Anti-Second Amendment Bias, Vindicates Opposition to Garland

News  

Monday, October 18, 2021

NYSRPA Case Exposes Biden’s Anti-Second Amendment Bias, Vindicates Opposition to Garland

Further evidence of Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland’s contempt for the Second Amendment has emerged in recent weeks.

The View Doesn’t Appreciate a Right

News  

Monday, October 18, 2021

The View Doesn’t Appreciate a Right

Women, and especially black women, are increasingly buying firearms for self-defense. This reality did not sit well with the hosts of a somehow still-running daytime talk show.

Virginia: Terry McAuliffe Wants to Ban Guns, Register Gun Owners, and Restrict Carry

News  

Monday, October 18, 2021

Virginia: Terry McAuliffe Wants to Ban Guns, Register Gun Owners, and Restrict Carry

Virginians are increasingly exercising their Second Amendment rights. NICS Checks in the commonwealth were up more than 60-percent from 2019 to 2020. From 2019 to 2021 there was a 21-percent increase in the number of ...

Final Brief Filed in Key Second Amendment Case Before Supreme Court of the United States

Friday, October 15, 2021

Final Brief Filed in Key Second Amendment Case Before Supreme Court of the United States

The final reply brief has been filed in the NRA-ILA-supported case challenging New York’s restrictive concealed-carry-licensing regime. This was the final filing before the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on November 3rd.

The Year of the Gun – Record Number of Carry Permits in 2020

News  

Monday, October 18, 2021

The Year of the Gun – Record Number of Carry Permits in 2020

Last year was one for the record books. Not only did gun sales climb to unprecedented highs, but 40 percent of all purchasers were first-time gun buyers, estimated to be some 8.4 million people.

Biden Administration Bans Importation of Russian Ammunition

News  

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Biden Administration Bans Importation of Russian Ammunition

The Biden Administration’s Department of State announced that it will soon prohibit the importation of Russian ammunition into the United States. According to a release on the Department of State’s website, “[n]ew and pending permit applications ...

Anti-gunners Launch Campaign to Intimidate U.S. Supreme Court as Second Amendment Case Looms

News  

Monday, October 11, 2021

Anti-gunners Launch Campaign to Intimidate U.S. Supreme Court as Second Amendment Case Looms

For many decades, gun control proponents who saw their fortunes wane in legislatures from coast to coast and who were unable to get traction with Congress could at least console themselves with the thought that ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

DOJ Releases Biden Gun Confiscation Order Legislation

News  

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

DOJ Releases Biden Gun Confiscation Order Legislation

DOJ has made clear that Garland’s selective definition of “civil rights” has no room for the Second Amendment...

Wisconsin: Update On Worshipper Protection & Frivolous Lawsuit Prevention Bills

Friday, October 15, 2021

Wisconsin: Update On Worshipper Protection & Frivolous Lawsuit Prevention Bills

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety held hearings for Senate Bill 584, to improve the ability of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and their loved ones while worshipping; and Senate Bill 570, ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.