Expect Background Check Delays As New Federal Gun Control Rolls Out  By: S.H. Blannelberry


The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is advising Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to expect delays to the background check system starting on Nov. 14 as new federal gun-control legislation takes effect. 

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Passed by Congress in June of 2022, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) implements all of the following:

  • Incentivizes states to adopt confiscatory “red flag” schemes 
  • Expands background checks for adults under 21 which may create delays
  • Makes changes to the definition of FFL, those “engaged in the business” of buying and selling firearms
  • Broadens “gun trafficking” offenses that could ensnare unsuspecting citizens 

The FBI is now saying that the expanded background checks for adults under 21 will, as expected, create delays to its National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  

The NICS website issues the following alert (emphasis added):

As a result of the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) of 2022, signed into law on June 25, 2022, the NICS Section has been working towards the implementation of an enhanced background check process for persons between the ages of 18-20. The enhancement provides the opportunity for additional outreach and research to be conducted regarding the existence of any juvenile adjudication information and/or mental health prohibition. As a result, transactions on persons between the ages of 18-20 will initially be delayed and the address of the individual will be collected so that the appropriate local and state entities may be contacted. The enhanced process will begin on November 14, 2022, for all transactions on persons under the age of 21 as previously described. Checks on persons under the age of 21 could be extended for a period up to ten business days. Therefore, it is possible for an FFL to be contacted with an updated Brady Transfer Date. As a temporary measure and until the NICS can be updated to provide this information electronically, NICS staff will be calling FFLs to advise of any change in the transfer date. In preparation for calls from NICS, you will be asked to verify your license number and code word. You may wish to have this information readily available for you and your staff. All descriptive information, including address, will follow normal purge requirements (i.e., deleted from NICS within 24 hours of the FFL receiving a proceed status.) Please note, if no potentially prohibiting information is located, the transaction will be proceeded as soon as possible.

Two Republican lawmakers, U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI at the beginning of the month out of precaution.

Essentially, Sens. Cornyn and Tillis wanted to ensure these agencies were playing by the rules set forth in the BSCA, and that as it relates to NICS, there were no unnecessary delays.

“If, and only if, NICS notifies the FBI that a juvenile record requires additional investigation beyond three business days, the FBI is to conduct this investigation into the juvenile record “as soon as possible,” but in no case more than ten business days from the initial point of sale,” they write in the letter.

“It would violate the plain language of the statute if the FBI, as a matter of course, consistently takes an additional seven days to complete the investigation in situations where a specific juvenile record requires additional investigation,” they continue.

You can read the full letter below:

How bad will the delays be? We’ll have to keep a close eye on NICS starting on Nov. 14.