Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,471,619)
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) began the Firearm Inquiry Statistics (FIST) program in 1995 to provide national estimates of the total number of firearm purchase applications received and denied pursuant to the Brady Act and similar state laws governing background checks and firearm transfers. FIST collects counts of firearm transfer applications and permit checks conducted by state and local agencies and combines them with transaction data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
The Regional Justice Information Service (REJIS) has administered the Firearm Inquiry Statistics (FIST) program, in collaboration with BJS, from its inception in 1995. REJIS staff has consistently adapted the program’s content to refine the survey methodology and account for changes in federal and state firearm laws. Over 28 years, the program has produced many published reports, including a primary series that provides a yearly national estimate of firearm transfer applications and denials. The resulting time series data has measured the impact of the federal Brady Act and similar state laws, and sparked interest from researchers, legislators, and journalists.
REJIS proposes to continue successful past practices for four more data collection cycles. REJIS will collect data for 2023-2026 from federal, state, and local agencies that conduct background checks for firearm transfers and permits. Data will be obtained from agency websites, internal reports, and a survey of over 1,000 state and local checking agencies. Data collected will include counts of applications received for firearm transfers and permits, the number of applications denied, and reasons for denials pursuant to federal and state laws. REJIS will also obtain data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) on screening of FBI denials and referrals to ATF field divisions for further investigation.
Estimates of applications and denials will be made for states where obtaining complete counts is not possible. Data from all the states will be combined with data from the FBI to make a national estimate of firearm transfer and permit applications and denials. The national estimate, other statistics, and information on firearm laws will be included in 2023-2026 editions of Background Checks for Firearm Transfers. An end-of-study report will be prepared for BJS. In addition, REJIS will meet with BJS to explore supplementing basic FIST data with research on delayed denial subject or FBI denials by state.