Fifteen states received NICS Improvement Amendments Act funding in FY 2017, totaling $11.2 million.
For more information on state-specific projects go to State-by-State Information.
Data collection and processing
BJS maintains nearly three dozen major statistical series designed to cover each stage of the criminal justice system. A description of the various BJS data series can be found under the topical references on the BJS home page. The U.S. Census Bureau carries out the majority of BJS's data collection activities. However, BJS conducts several statistical programs for which other non-profit organizations serve as BJS data collection agents. BJS periodically announces solicitations for these programs in the Federal Register and current solicitations are listed at the top of this page.
Statistical and methodological research
BJS conducts, supports, and implements methodological research and initiatives designed to improve the quality of justice statistics, records, and information systems.
BJS, in partnership with the American Statistical Association (ASA), sponsors research projects designed to foster improvements in the methods used to obtain, analyze, and report national-level data on crime and criminal justice. Each year, new topics for methodological research are identified by BJS and ASA. Solicitations for new research projects are announced each year in February and October.
The BJS Visiting Fellows Program promotes criminal justice statistical research among the academic and professional justice community. Visiting Fellows participate in a specifically designed research project of particular operational relevance to the national or international justice system. The program offers criminal justice researchers an opportunity to have a significant impact on specific BJS projects as well as a chance to examine innovative approaches to the analysis and dissemination of BJS data.
National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) provides financial and technical support to states in improving the accuracy, utility, and interstate accessibility of criminal history records and enhancing records of protective orders involving domestic violence and stalking, sex offender records, automated identification systems, and other state systems supporting national records systems and their use for background checks.
State Justice Statistics (SJS) Program for Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) offers technical and financial support to states to establish and maintain a state-level capacity to collect, analyze, and report statistics on crime and justice in order to contribute to effective state policies and programs and to participate in national data series. Through the creation of SACs, BJS encourages analyses of evolving criminal justice topics of interest within the state using data gathered from state and local agencies and promotes statistical inquiries into improved measures of crime incidence and prevalence.
Through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Mobility Program, BJS invites individuals interested in pursuing criminal justice issues to apply for temporary assignments. Projects will be designed to focus on improving BJS's statistical programs. Assignments may vary in duration, up to 2 years, and may be intermittent, part-time, or full-time. Visit the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Mobility Program page for deadlines and eligibility requirements.
Eligible applicants are professional or scholarly societies that must—
- be a U.S. based national or international organization whose members pursue scholarly, scientific, and professional knowledge concerning the measurement, etiology, consequences, prevention, control, and treatment of crime and delinquency
- have a history of promoting criminal justice education, scholarly research, and policy analysis
- have a membership that includes scholars who are national or international in scope and multidisciplinary in orientation, research professionals in agencies from all sectors of the criminal justice system, and students pursuing studies in criminal justice or related social sciences areas
- convene an annual meeting that provides a forum for sharing and discussing research and policy analyses relevant to crime and delinquency, at which funded fellowships will be featured
- if it is a for-profit organization, agree to forgo any profit or management fee.
Foreign governments, foreign organizations, and foreign institutions of higher education are not eligible to apply.
Under this program, the recipient organization, BJS, and selected research fellows will have specific responsibilities.
Professional or scholarly society responsibilities. The selected organization will ensure that the following requirements are fulfilled:
- A program coordinator is identified who will oversee the administration of the fellowship program on behalf of the professional or scholarly society.
- A solicitation for fellowship applications is developed and published annually in collaboration with BJS.
- Eligible fellowship applicants will be defined as members of the selected professional or scholarly society who are—
Preference will be given to new faculty members and persons who recently received their doctorate degree. Funded fellowships will be limited to one per institution or agency per year.
- full-time faculty members of all ranks and non-faculty research staff (including post-doctoral research fellows) who have doctorate degrees and who are employed by a fully accredited degree-granting educational institution in the United States. The recipient organization will ensure that members at historically black colleges and universities, and Hispanic-serving institutions are encouraged to apply for a fellowship.
- researchers holding doctorate degrees and who are currently employed full time in a local or state governmental criminal justice agency.
- The research project proposed by fellowship applicants must—
- use, in whole or in part, existing data made available by BJS
- have direct implications for criminal justice policy and practice in the United States
- clearly demonstrate how the proposed project will use or improve BJS data or statistical series
- advance criminal justice knowledge, practice, or policy for criminal justice agencies in the United States
- be completed within 9 months.
- Applications that involve multiple recipients of fellowships may be submitted. However, such projects may not involve more than three fellowships, and individuals who are proposed as fellows may only be connected to one application.
- Priority for fellowships will be given to applicants who use existing BJS datasets. However, applications that propose using other available data that could inform gaps in BJS's current statistical collection portfolio may also be considered. Applicants proposing to use non-BJS data must demonstrate how these data meet standards related to validity and reliability for the research question posed, and how the data inform technical and substantive issues related to the identified gap in knowledge.
- Fellowship applicants interested in analyzing BJS restricted-use data to create linkages to other BJS data or auxiliary files from other statistical agencies or sources, or to identify local geographic areas, are strongly encouraged to contact BJS to—
This outreach and communication must be reflected in fellowship applications.
- assess the feasibility of the proposed research topic and availability of the data to be used
- clarify processes for accessing such data.
- The fellowship program encourages quantitative, qualitative, primary, and secondary data analysis. Special consideration will be given to applicants who use the most rigorous statistical methods applicable to their proposed research topic to maximize the validity and reliability of findings.
- Human subjects protection paperwork are completed (if applicable), including Institutional Review Board (IRB) documentation, forms, and a privacy certificate. The documentation is not required at the time of application. However, if awarded and if applicable to the project, successful applicants will be required to submit this paperwork.
- Submitted fellowship applications will be evaluated through a peer-review process, which ensures that—
- fellowship applications include the assurances described herein
- proposed projects are consistent with the goals and objectives of the fellowship program.
- BJS is provided with final recommendations for its research fellows so BJS may approve these selections prior to any public announcement.
BJS responsibilities. BJS will—
- provide funding to the recipient organization for up to 10 fellowships at $7,500 each, depending on the appropriated funds available
- supply a list of priority research topics and datasets to the recipient organization so applicants may consider them
- make BJS staff available to respond to questions regarding datasets under consideration
- facilitate the access to restricted-use datasets, if needed
- consider publishing the successful applicants' completed report (see below) as a BJS working paper.
Research fellow responsibilities. The research fellow will—
- ensure that the application includes a letter of support from their academic institution or agency of employment
- assess the relevant literature and develop appropriate methods for analysis based on that review, regardless of the topic proposed, and include this information in the application
- produce at least one product with substantive or methodological focus that BJS will disseminate as a working paper or report
- ensure that the application proposes at least the following three deliverables:
- A publishable 20- to 30-page report on the research project that, at a minimum, includes—
- synopses of relevant literature and previous research
- a discussion of the research questions or hypotheses that guided the research
- the methodology employed, including a thorough discussion of all data used and any dataset linking or merging methods
- analytical techniques used
- key findings derived from the analysis
- major conclusions or recommendations emanating from the project, including those that may address BJS data quality issues.
- An in-person presentation based on the completed research project at the Office of Justice Programs in Washington, DC. The presentation will be arranged by BJS in consultation with the faculty research fellow.
- An in-person presentation based on the completed research project at the selected professional or scholarly society's annual meeting. The presentation will be arranged and funded by the professional or scholarly society, in consultation with the faculty research fellow and BJS.
In addition to the deliverables listed above and any required datasets, interim and final progress reports, and financial reports, BJS expects scholarly products may result from fellowships awarded under the faculty research fellowship, including one or more published, peer-reviewed, scientific journal articles, or (if appropriate) law review journal articles, books or book chapters in the academic press, or similar scientific product.
The research project carried out by the fellow must to be completed within 9 months.
Possible projects will be identified in the solicitation developed jointly by the selected professional or scholarly society and BJS. The program will be announced by BJS and the selected organization, including placement on the BJS website.
Respond to the solicitation, which is located on the Funding tab of the BJS website. The solicitation will contain more information about the application deadline, where to send the application, specific application requirements, and the selection process.
Only degree-granting educational institutions in the United States are eligible to apply. The applicant must be fully accredited by a regional institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and must apply as the sponsor of a doctoral candidate whose dissertation research substantially uses BJS data or fills a gap in BJS’s statistical portfolio.
BJS encourages eligible institutions to sponsor outstanding and promising doctoral students whose dissertation research may impact criminal justice policy and practice in the United States. BJS prioritizes applications for research that use BJS data.
Applications for research using other data that could fill a gap in BJS’s statistical portfolio will also be considered. These applications should show how the novel data are reliable and valid and how they add technical and substantive knowledge to a specific gap.
Applicants may be interested in linking BJS restricted-use data to other BJS data or to other statistical sources’ auxiliary files. Or applicants may want to use BJS data to identify local geographic areas. Such applicants should contact BJS to—
|•||assess if the research topic is feasible and what data is available|
|•||clarify processes for accessing such data.|
Successful applicants must clearly show how the dissertation research will use BJS data and advance criminal justice knowledge, practice, or policy in federal agencies. BJS encourages quantitative, qualitative, primary and secondary data analysis, and mixed-methods studies. BJS favors applications for research that use the most rigorous methods to maximize the validity and reliability of the study’s findings.
BJS will make awards in the form of grants. The amount of each award is $40,000, usable over the project period for the student's salary, tuition and fees, research expenses, and related costs.
The award’s performance period is typically 12 to 18 months and no more than 3 years.
Each fiscal year’s fellowship solicitation lays out some potential projects. Before applying, institutions can contact BJS staff to find a mutually agreeable project or discuss how to focus the dissertation research to meet BJS needs. Choosing to collaborate early with BJS can help ensure that the project grasps the frequent complexities of BJS data. Such consultations are not required and in no way guarantee BJS will choose the application. Email [email protected] to find out if your project relates to BJS’s work.
Find the solicitation at the Funding page on the BJS website. The solicitation contains details about the application deadline, where to send the application, application requirements, and the selection process.
Organizations eligible to participate in the IPA Mobility Program include—
- state and local governments
- domestic colleges and universities that are accredited
- Indian tribal governments
- federally funded research and development centers
- other eligible organizations
Under the revised IPA Mobility Program regulations (5 CFR part 334), OJP is responsible for certifying the eligibility of “other organizations” for participation in the IPA Mobility Program.
- state or local governments
- associations of state or local public officials
- nonprofit organizations that, as one of their principal functions, provide services, such as professional advisory, research, educational, and developmental to governments or universities concerned with public management
- federally funded research and development centers.
An employee of a nonfederal organization must be employed by that organization in a career position for at least 90 days before entering into an IPA agreement. The Department of Justice requires that participants be U.S. citizens. Individuals excluded from participating include—
- federal, state, or local government employees serving under noncareer, excepted service, noncompetitive, time-limited, temporary, or term appointments
- elected federal, state, or local government officials
- members of the uniformed military services and the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- students employed in research, graduate or teaching assistant positions, or similar temporary positions.
IPA participants are selected by the BJS director or a designee and are based on the employee’s qualifications and interests, BJS needs, and the mutual benefits to BJS and the organization employing the candidate. IPA projects should focus on improving one or more of BJS’s statistical programs. BJS’s statistical programs and data collections are described on the BJS website at https://bjs.ojp.gov/data-collections.
Recent BJS efforts to improve its statistical infrastructure have focused on survey design, the use of administrative records for statistical purposes, data quality assessments, and record linkage. There is a wide range of opportunities for an IPA within these general areas. For example, the survey design area includes sampling for continuous administration of establishment surveys and alternative sample designs for the National Crime Victimization Survey that address within-place explicit stratification to increase the number of victims who respond to the survey.
BJS is interested in developing survey instruments for new topical areas and aligning BJS’s surveys with other national survey instruments to facilitate comparisons. Within the area of using administrative records, BJS and the federal statistical system have interests in developing an administrative records analogue to the total survey error model for sample surveys.
Examples of other areas of interest include—
- National Crime Victimization Survey—
- -Small area estimation, using both sample data collected directly within states and model-based approaches
-Interviewing juveniles and persons younger than age 12 on sensitive topics related to criminal victimization.
- -Small area estimation, using both sample data collected directly within states and model-based approaches
- Law enforcement statistics—
- -Demonstrating the utility of incident-based crime statistics (such as the National Incident-Based Reporting System) for statistical, research, and evaluation purposes.
- Recidivism statistics—
- -Assessing the quality of criminal history records (also known as records of arrest and prosecution, or RAP sheets) for completeness and operational and statistical uses
-Imputation for item nonresponse
-Research designs for comparing the recidivism outcomes for groups of offenders.
- -Assessing the quality of criminal history records (also known as records of arrest and prosecution, or RAP sheets) for completeness and operational and statistical uses
- Federal justice statistics—
- -Assessing the quality of imputation and using the “dyad link” file in the Federal Justice Statistics Program.
- Indian country statistics—
- -Designing and conducting surveys of criminal justice systems in Indian country with assistance from experts on Indian country issues.
- Juvenile justice statistics—
- -Using existing BJS statistical program data to develop statistics on juvenile victims and offenders, and on contact of juveniles with adult criminal justice agencies.
Because the range of topics is potentially wide, individuals interested in considering an IPA arrangement should talk with BJS about their ideas.
Interested applicants should discuss their ideas with BJS staff, in particular the Unit Chief responsible for a statistical program area. Discussions can be facilitated by sending an email to [email protected] with the subject line “IPA” and a brief statement of interest.
BJS accepts, on an ongoing basis, ideas and concept papers for projects from potential applicants for an IPA mobility assignment. Individuals may submit concept papers to BJS at any time by emailing the documents to [email protected] with the subject line “IPA.” Papers will be routed to the appropriate BJS staff for follow-up. Concept papers should be no more than 3 pages in length and should discuss the nature of a proposed project. BJS will contact all persons who submit concept papers for IPAs.
BJS may also solicit concept papers from individuals who have been identified as qualified for a particular project.
Applicants to the IPA Mobility Program will have to demonstrate that they have the requisite skills, capabilities, and experience to conduct a project under the IPA Mobility Program. The skill level should be commensurate with the scope, content, and focus of a project. Applicants may demonstrate skills and capabilities by submitting a resume or curriculum vitae (CV). Letters of reference may also be required, if a CV does not sufficiently demonstrate skills.
When a potential candidate has been identified, BJS will contact the management of the candidate’s organization to confirm that an IPA mobility assignment is feasible and in the interests of the organization.
The projects performed under an IPA will focus on a specific BJS statistical program. However, when several programs are closely related, a project may address issues common to several programs.
The level of support is conditional on the nature of the project, skills, and expertise of the IPA. Under the IPA, BJS will provide support for salary, benefits, and travel costs associated with the project.
The duration of an IPA is variable, depending on the nature of the project. It may last up to 2 years, and an extension for an additional 2 years may be granted if the extension benefits both BJS and the IPA’s home host agency. An IPA can be full-time, part-time, or intermittent.
It is not necessary that an IPA relocated to the Washington, D.C., area. However, if an IPA is off-site, routine travel to BJS will be required to discuss the project and meet with BJS staff. If an IPA is structured so that a person relocates to Washington, D.C., to work at BJS, BJS will not pay relocation expenses.
Applicants are limited to senior-level social science researchers and/or statisticians in the fields of statistics, survey methodology, mathematics, criminology, demography, economics, behavioral science, and other related fields. Applicants should have an established research record in their field and considerable expertise in their area of proposed research. Applicants must be willing to commit a substantial portion of their time (typically 6 to 18 months) to undertake analyses of existing BJS data and produce a report that both summarizes their analyses and meets BJS publication and data quality standards.
Fellowship applications are awarded based on the qualifications of the applicant and the intrinsic value of the proposed research. When evaluating proposed research, BJS typically uses the following criteria to weigh project cost against anticipated output:
- relevance of the research to the criminal justice field (research should address significant substantive issues facing the criminal justice system)
- methodological validity of the proposed plan
- rationale for analysis of BJS data (or BJS data in combination with other relevant local, state, or national data)
- degree of interest that BJS or BJS data users might have in the topic
- value relative to other ongoing research (the possibility of exploiting, expanding, or enhancing the value of other studies)
- validity of the application’s problem statement and whether the proposal is reasonable, understandable, and consistent with the current solicitation.
For more information about the selection process and specific requirements for applications, please review the annual solicitations on the BJS website. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact BJS prior to applying to discuss their research concepts.
Current projects include—
- researching issues related to the National Criminal Victimization Survey (NCVS) screening process and development of a modular crime incident report
- addressing repeat victimization measured by the NCVS
- developing weighting and record-linking methods to improve the use of National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP) data for statistical purposes.
Past projects include—
- comparing crime and justice in England and the United States
- developing graphical and geographical methods for analyzing criminal justice data
- investigating how different police departments classify assaults and homicides for statistical purposes
- describing differences in punishment cross-nationally with special emphasis on the use of incarceration
- creating easy-to-use, incident-based police datasets for analysis of diverse topics related to crime.
The total award for a BJS visiting fellowship ranges from about $50,000 to $200,000, depending on the project requirements. Indirect costs may be allowable. BJS may award one or more BJS visiting fellows under a solicitation. All awards are subject to the availability of appropriated funds and any modifications or additional requirements that may be imposed by law.
Fellowship appointments typically range from 6 to 18 months, but may extend beyond 18 months, depending on project requirements. Appointment terms are flexible and can be full-time, part-time, or split into multiple terms. Applicants should specify approximate dates for proposed projects.
No, there is flexibility regarding work and travel arrangements. BJS visiting fellows may, at their discretion, work on-site at BJS for the duration of their project or make occasional visits to accommodate their schedules. Travel expenses may be allowed to make site visits with other BJS or OJP staff, to attend conferences and meetings (both local and outside of the Washington Metropolitan Area), and to participate in training. While in Washington, fellows have the benefit of access to BJS staff and an office space as well as the bureau's rich array of datasets and software. Further, some BJS datasets can only be accessed on site.
Possible projects are identified in the solicitation for the fiscal year of the fellowship. In addition, applicants may want to contact BJS staff before submitting a proposal to identify a mutually agreeable project and discuss how to best focus their work to meet BJS research needs. Although not required, this early collaboration is very helpful in ensuring that the proposed project effectively addresses the complexities often encountered in BJS data. Please note, such a consultation does not guarantee, in any way, that an application will be chosen. Applicants who want to know if their area of expertise might contribute to the work at BJS should email [email protected].
Budgets submitted for fellowships may include—
- benefits, such as life, health, and disability insurance; state workers’ compensation; retirement plan; FICA; and a public transportation stipend that does not exceed $125.00 monthly (based on actual expenses)
- travel to make site visits with other BJS or OJP staff, to attend conferences and meetings (both local and outside of the Washington Metropolitan Area), and to participate in training, including per diem expenses within the limitation of federal regulations
- indirect costs, if the applicant has an indirect rate approval with the federal government.
Budgets may not include—
- computer hardware or software (these are provided while at BJS)
- books or other reference materials
- fees for dissemination of research
- per diem expenses for meals and incidentals when traveling to Washington, DC.
In addition, fellows have access to resources at BJS, including technical support and library facilities, in-house databases and computer facilities, a laptop computer or stationary workstation, and statistical software. Limited funds are available to accommodate specialized needs for software and hardware. Salaries are commensurate with qualifications and experience. Benefits, travel, and relocation support are negotiable.
BJS Visiting Fellows Program is announced in a solicitation made available on the Funding page. The solicitation contains more information about the application deadline, where to send your application, specific application requirements, and the selection process.
If you are interested in the program or have additional questions, send an email to [email protected]. In the subject of the email specify, BJS Visiting Fellows Program.
BJS has one current visiting fellow:
- Heather Warnken, J.D., LL.M., a visiting fellow working across BJS and the Office for Victims of Crime
Brief Biography and Project Description
Heather Warnken, J.D., LL.M.
Heather Warnken is a visiting fellow working across BJS and the Office for Victims of Crime in the first-ever fellowship designed to improve the use, dissemination, and translation of statistical data and social science findings for the crime victim assistance field. Prior to coming to BJS, she has served since 2011 as a legal policy associate at the Warren Institute on Law & Social Policy at U.C. Berkeley School of Law. While at the Warren Institute, she led multidisciplinary projects using research and collaborative partnerships to bridge the gap between research, policy, and practice, including two statewide needs assessments on how to improve access to services and compensation for underserved victims of crime. She also worked with the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department to develop policies and procedures to improve outcomes for youth. She served as law clerk to the Honorable Joseph F. Murphy, Jr., Court of Appeals of Maryland, has provided pro bono direct legal services in domestic violence and child welfare-related matters, and was a 2015 Women's Foundation of California Criminal Justice Fellow. She holds an LL.M. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, and a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University.
(Affiliation at time of fellowship)
Megan Kurlychek, Ph.D.
School of Criminal Justice
University at Albany, SUNY
Project: Assessing the immediate and longer-term outcomes of juveniles processed and sentenced in adult courts
Professor Janet L. Lauritsen
Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
University of Missouri-St. Louis
Project: Examining the methodological history of the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)
Professor David P. Farrington
Lecturer in Criminology at Cambridge University
Former President of the British Society of Criminology
President-elect of the American Society of Criminology
Project: Comparison of crime and justice in England and the U.S.
Professor Michael D. Maltz
Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois
Editor of Journal of Quantitative Criminology
Project: Development of graphical and geographical methods for analyzing criminal justice data
Professor James A. Fox
Dean of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University
Project: Investigating how different police departments classify assaults and homicides for statistical purposes
Professor James P. Lynch
Department of Justice, Law and Society
Project: Describing differences in punishment cross-nationally with special emphasis on the use of incarceration
Professor Roland J. Chilton
Department of Sociology
University of Massachusetts
Project: Create easy-to-use incident-based police datasets for analysis of diverse topics related to crime
Senior Research Associate
Justice Policy Center
The Urban Institute
Project: Examining methods to measure the recidivism of youthful offenders
Christopher Wildeman, Ph.D.
College of Human Ecology
Project: Reviewing variations in the incarceration-mortality relationship by state and institution type
The Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended, 18 U.S.C. 921, et seq., establishes the following categories of persons who are prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm — any person pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 922(g) and (n) who:
-- has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
-- is a fugitive from justice;
-- is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
-- has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution;
-- is an illegal or unlawful alien or a non-immigrant alien (with certain exceptions);
-- has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
-- having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship;
-- is subject to a domestic violence protection order that meets certain requirements;
-- has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; or
-- is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
The NICS Improvement Act was enacted in the wake of the April 2007 shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech. The Virginia Tech shooter was able to purchase firearms from an FFL because information about his prohibiting mental health history was not available to the NICS and the system was therefore unable to deny the transfer of the firearms used in the shootings. The NICS Improvement Act seeks to address the gap in information available to NICS about such prohibiting mental health adjudications and commitments and other prohibiting backgrounds. Filling these information gaps will better enable the system to operate as intended to keep guns out of the hands of persons prohibited by federal or state law from receiving or possessing firearms.
The NICS is administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). A NICS check includes a check of three databases maintained by the FBI, including the:
- Interstate Identification Index (III), a database of criminal history record information,
- National Crime Information Center (NCIC) which includes information on persons subject to civil protection orders and arrest warrants, and
- NICS Index which includes the information contributed by federal and state agencies identifying persons prohibited from possessing firearms who are not included in the III or NCIC, such as persons with a prohibiting mental health history or who are illegal or unlawful aliens.
If a NICS check identifies a person as falling within a prohibited category, the FBI advises the FFL that the transfer is "denied." Individuals can appeal denials and seek the correction of the information in the FBI databases by either applying to the FBI or the federal or state agency that contributed the information to the FBI.
The NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, Pub. L. 110-180 ("NICS Improvement Act"), was signed into law by the President on January 8, 2008. The NICS Improvement Act amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 ("the Brady Act") (Pub. L. 103-159), under which the Attorney General established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The Brady Act requires Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to contact the NICS before transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person for information on whether the proposed transferee is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm under state or federal law.