Based on data from Federal and State investigations and prosecutions of firearm applicants denied a purchase under the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), this study examined the enforcement of the Brady Act, 2007, which requires criminal history background checks by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and State agencies on persons who attempt to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer.
The FBI conducted over 5.1 million NICS transfer checks in 2007 and denied nearly 67,000 applications (approximately 1 percent). The most common reason for denial of a firearm purchase by the FBI was a record of a felony indictment or conviction (35 percent of the denials). Domestic-violence misdemeanor convictions and restraining orders composed 12 percent of the denials. State agency denials were estimated to be nearly 56,500 for the year (approximately 2 percent). The most common reasons for denials by State agencies in 2007 were felony indictments and convictions, State law prohibitors, and domestic-violence misdemeanor convictions. A total of 196 charges from the 2007 cases were referred by field offices for consideration by prosecutors. The most common charge referred was submitting falsified information when buying firearms. The second and third most common charges were possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm after a domestic abuse charge. Some prohibited persons obtained a firearm during an "open transaction," for which the FBI had not completed a check in three business days and the dealer was allowed to transfer the firearm. When the FBI finds a prohibitory record and is informed by the dealer that a transfer occurred, a "delayed denial" referral is made to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). This report describes how the ATF screens denied-person cases and retrieves firearms that were obtained illegally. 17 tables