U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AT 10:00 A.M. EDT Bureau of Justice Statistics
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2010 Contact: Kara McCarthy (202) 307-1241
https://www.bjs.gov/ After hours: (202) 598-0556


WASHINGTON – Nearly $17 million was awarded to eight state agencies to improve the quality, completeness, and accessibility of records available under the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, announced today. The NICS serves as the database that Federal Firearms Licensees must contact before transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person.

In Fiscal Year 2010, $20 million was appropriated for grants to assist states in providing information to the NICS.  Eight states met the conditions of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act (NIAA) and received grants:


State   Award Amount

Florida    $3,159,228
Idaho      $1,949,578
Illinois    $1,209,500
New Jersey     $860,331
New York   $5,994,588
Oregon      $2,000,000
Texas        $751,537
Wisconsin     $981,372
    Total     $16,906,134

To be eligible to receive funds under NIAA, a state must meet two specific conditions. First, a state must provide a reasonable estimate of records subject to the NIAA’s completeness requirements to the Attorney General. BJS developed an information collection to be used by states to submit these estimates, which is available on the BJS website at https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/sepform.pdf.

Second, a state must also implement a program permitting persons who have been found by the courts to be a mental defective or committed to a mental institution to obtain relief from the firearms restrictions imposed by law. The program must be certified by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

This relief must be based on a finding by a state court, board, commission or other lawful authority that under the circumstances of the disability, criminal record and personal reputation, the person will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety and that granting relief would not be contrary to public interest.

The NIAA was enacted after the April 2007 shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech. The act aims to keep guns out of the hands of persons prohibited by federal or state law from receiving or possessing firearms by ensuring that the states provide records to NICS that meet the completeness requirements. Those state records include critical information about certain mental health adjudications and mental health commitments, and other prohibiting factors such as felony convictions, active arrest warrants, and misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence. Filling these information gaps will better enable the system to operate as intended to keep firearms out of the hands of persons prohibited from having them. It will also reduce delays for law-abiding gun purchasers.

Information on individual state grants is available on the BJS website at https://www.bjs.gov.

For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ statistical reports and programs, please visit the BJS Web site at https://www.bjs.gov/.

# # #

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has seven components: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; the Community Capacity Development Office, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. More information about OJP can be found at https://www.ojp.gov.




Date Published: September 13, 2010