NICS Denial or Delay? Your Address is Now Reported to the Cops By: William Lawson


If you’ve ever bought a firearm, you know about the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) procedure. You may have also been delayed for some reason, making the check not exactly “instant.” Or perhaps you’ve even been denied. It happens all the time. Ninety percent of all denials are false positives, meaning the denial should not have been issued. It takes a little extra work, but you get it ironed out.

Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to follow and signup for notifications!

ATF Form 4473 with pistol NICS Policy

But thanks to the NICS Denial Notification Act of 2022, if you’re denied, or even just delayed, the FFL is required to report your home address to the ATF, who then passes it along to local, state, or tribal law enforcement agencies, as well as local prosecutors.

The New NICS Policy

Gun Owners of America obtained a September 22, 2022, email to FFLs, in which the ATF outlines the new policy. It reads:

The NICS Denial Notification Act of 2022 requires the FBI’s NICS Section to notify state, local, or tribal law enforcement of all FBI NICS denied transactions within 24 hours. The FBI must provide notification to law enforcement based upon the location of the FFL and if different, the purchaser’s address. To support the determination of what local agency should receive the notification, FFLs will be required to provide the buyer’s complete address to NICS as recorded on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Form 4473 when the transactions are DENIED or DELAYED. The address information will be required before the status can be provided or retrieved either by the NICS corrected call center or via the NICS E-check.

Delaware Senator Chris Coons NICS Policy
Delaware Senator Chris Coons sponsored the NICS Denial Notification Act of 2022 on behalf of several fellow Senators from both parties. (

The new law was packaged in the Violence Against Women Act of 2022, which snuck in several gun control measures that would have otherwise faced an uphill climb in the US Senate. It’s a common underhanded tactic employed by both parties. GOA got some of the measures stricken but several remained, including this one.

What does the new NICS policy mean?

This change means that the cops, and maybe prosecutors, are required to investigate you should you be denied or delayed. This is a big change. FFLs were previously required to provide the denied person’s state of residence. A delay was not flagged at all.

As noted earlier, 90 percent of NICS denials are false positives. But even so, they will now be investigated. And don’t blame your FFL. Noncompliance would mean losing their license and their business.

I wonder about the rule’s wording, though. The transferee’s address is only required if they are denied, yet the rule states that “the address information will be required before the status can be provided.” So, which is it? Of course, this certainly wouldn’t be the first vague ATF rule we’ve seen, considering that pretty much all of them are that way.

Gun store
Any delay or denial means requires the FFL to report the customer’s address to the FBI. (

Denials, Delays, or Both?

Additionally, the law only requires FFLs to report denials, not delays. So why does the ATF want delays included? Well, the law itself is vague. It reads:

If the national instant criminal background check system…(commonly referred to as NICS) provides a notice pursuant to section 922(t) that the receipt of a firearm by a person would violate subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 or State or Tribal law, the Attorney General shall…(1) report to the law enforcement authorities of the State or Tribe where the person sought to acquire the firearm and, if different, the law enforcement authorities of the State or Tribe of residence of the person –

(A) that the notice was provided; (B) the specific provision of law that would have been violated; (C) the date and time the notice was provided; (D) the location where the firearm was sought to be acquired; and € the identity of the person; and (2) where practicable, report the incident to local law enforcement authorities and State and local prosecutors or Tribal prosecutors in the jurisdiction where the firearms was sought and in the jurisdiction where the person resides.

Sorry to subject you to all that, but it’s important. Nowhere does it indicate that delays should be reported. But, then again, it doesn’t specifically single out denials, though any reasonable person understands that’s what the law means. After all, it clearly addresses people whose receipt of a firearm would violate the law.

ATF Guy NICS Policy

Delays do not indicate wrongdoing. They only indicate the need for a more detailed check. But we know from experience that the ATF routinely stretches its authority. Maybe they’re just trying to push it a little further here. I sure wouldn’t be surprised.

New NICS Policy Bottom Line

This is a clear infringement. Computer glitches or mistaken reports do not make one a criminal. I don’t blame the local police unless, of course, they really start giving people a hard time. I hope they will see this for what it is. Nevertheless, investigatory records will be created and filed on people who did absolutely nothing wrong. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.

I have a personal interest here too. I own a few firearms. But every single time I buy a new one, NICS delays me. Apparently, someone with my name did something bad. It’s been happening for years, and I’ve just learned to live with it. I get delayed, NICS kicks it up the chain, and I’m eventually approved.

Policeman knocking on door NICS Policy
I may be seeing this guy soon. But I hope not. (

I guess the cops will investigate me every time I buy a gun now. Frankly, I’m intrigued to see how this goes since I just bought a new .22 rifle a couple of days ago. NICS delayed me, as always. I’ve just been waiting for my local public servants to knock on my door. I guess we’ll see how thorough they are.