The Truth about background checks and how they really work

by | Jul 23, 2019

The Truth about background checks and how they really work:

Since there has been a lot of talk about the subject, I felt it was important to clarify the facts surrounding background checks. As a licensed dealer, if you buy a hand gun or firearm from me, a background check must be performed, 18 U.S.C. 922(t); 27 CFR 478.102. It does not matter if you buy the weapon in person, at a gun show or online, I am required to run a background check before I can transfer the purchase into the buyers possession. The only situation where I do not have to perform a background check is when I am transferring a firearm to another licensed dealer, however, I am required to have a copy of their current license to ensure they are still a licensed dealer themselves, 18 U.S.C. 922(t); 27 CFR 478.102.

So here is how this works, when you are buying a firearm from me, whether in person or at a gun show, and I am transferring it to you, first you must purchase the firearm and fill out the background check paperwork commonly referred to as a form 4473. After you fill out the paperwork, I am required to compare your information to the government issued identification and log the information. Your information is then entered into the NICS database for the background check. These checks are performed by the FBI using information that has been provided to the system by state and local governments. After the form is submitted there are one of three responses: proceed, delay, denied. Proceed means you are good to go and we can complete the transfer. Denied means there is something in your background that prohibits you from owning a firearm, at that point a refund of the firearm is required per the dealers terms and conditions. Delay means that the FBI wants to do further research before saying yes or no. With a Delayed response the FBI has 3 business days to provide us with a final decision, if no response is received at our discretion we can transfer the firearm, or cancel the sale, 18 U.S.C. 922(t); 27 CFR 478.102(a)(2).

If you purchase a firearm online, the item cannot be shipped to the buyer directly, first it must be shipped to a licensed dealer and then that dealer would go through the same process described above, as if it was bought from them in their store. There is no exception, not even for a law enforcement officer who purchases a firearm for personal use, they must also go through the same background check process, 18 U.S.C. 922(t) and 925(a)(1).

So called, “universal background checks” are unenforceable and can not work because in 1986 the Firearm Owners Protection Act was passed which states that it is illegal for the national government or any state in the country to keep any sort of database or registry that ties firearms directly to their owner. The exact wording of the provision is as follows:

“No such rule or regulation prescribed [by the Attorney General] after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or disposition be established. Nothing in this section expands or restricts the Secretary’s authority to inquire into the disposition of any firearm in the course of a criminal investigation.”

Without a database of who owns which firearm it would be impossible to track individual private sales.

The background check process for a firearm that is controlled under the National Firearms Act, which includes full automatics manufactured prior to 1986, short barreled rifles and shotguns, and suppressors, is a different process. Not only do you have to go through the standard FBI background check you also must submit fingerprints, and be approved by your local law enforcement, Sheriff or Police Chief. This process can take a minimum of 9 months. The cost of some of these items can be in excess of tens of thousands of dollars which must be paid prior to the background checks being run. In addition, if you are approved you must pay an additional $200 for a tax stamp for the item.

So the argument that you can just walk in and walk out is not 100% true. It is illegal to order a firearm online and have it shipped to your house. You cannot walk into a class 3 gun store, buy and walk out with a fully automatic weapon, suppressor, or short barreled rifle. However, as the law is currently written you can not track private sales of firearms. If you have any questions regarding the current laws surrounding background checks please feel free to contact us at