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
H.R. 127 – A Bill Designed to Express Hostility Toward Law-Abiding Gun Owners

News  

Thursday, February 11, 2021

H.R. 127 – A Bill Designed to Express Hostility Toward Law-Abiding Gun Owners

All gun control bills share the same basic goal: a world in which fewer people own firearms. Some bills simply ban certain types of firearms or ammunition outright. Others place obstacles in the path of ...

New Hampshire: House Passes Self-Defense Legislation

Friday, February 26, 2021

New Hampshire: House Passes Self-Defense Legislation

Yesterday, the House of Representatives held a floor vote on self-defense legislation, House Bill 197. 

Anti-gun Senators and Mayors Push Biden on Executive Gun Controls

News  

Monday, February 22, 2021

Anti-gun Senators and Mayors Push Biden on Executive Gun Controls

Following a year filled with the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread civil unrest, Americans are in no rush to enact further gun controls. According to data from a January Gallup poll, 42 percent of Americans are satisfied ...

NRA Victory in Washington Court of Appeals

News  

Monday, February 22, 2021

NRA Victory in Washington Court of Appeals

The National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action applauds a decision by the Washington Court of Appeals today that upheld the state's preemption law and struck down a pair of local ordinances that restricted the ...

Friday, February 5, 2021

Florida Alert! H.R. 127 - Federal Gun Control Proposal

Much is being said about H.R. 127 By Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) 117th Congress and we have had many folks contacting us seeking information. 

Washington: Carry Ban Sent to the Senate Floor for Rapid Consideration

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Washington: Carry Ban Sent to the Senate Floor for Rapid Consideration

Yesterday, Senate Bill 5038 was pulled from the Senate Rules Committee and sent to the Senate Floor where it can be heard at any time. 

Indiana: House Passes Right-To-Carry Bill

Monday, February 22, 2021

Indiana: House Passes Right-To-Carry Bill

Today, the House passed House Bill 1369 by a vote of 65-31 and sent it on to the Senate for further consideration.

Iowa Permitless Carry Self Defense Package Bill Introduced

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Iowa Permitless Carry Self Defense Package Bill Introduced

Today, House Study Bill 254 was introduced to greatly improve self-defense in Iowa.

Biden Begins Gun Control Push

News  

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Biden Begins Gun Control Push

On Sunday, President Biden used the three-year anniversary of the criminal attack in Parkland, Florida to call “on Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons ...

Georgia: House Passes Concealed Carry Reciprocity Bill

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Georgia: House Passes Concealed Carry Reciprocity Bill

Today, the House passed House Bill 218. The bill expands the ability of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families, both within Georgia and in other states, and also ensures that Second Amendment rights ...

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.