NRA and NICSThe National Rifle Association supported the establishment of the National Criminal Instant Background Check System (NICS) , and we support it to this day. At its creation, we advocated that NICS checks be accurate; fair; and truly instant. The reason for this is that 99% of those who go through NICS checks are law-abiding citizens, who are simply trying to exercise their fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
Since 1986, those engaged in the business of selling firearms for livelihood and profit have been required to have a Federal Firearms License (FFL). All retail sales of firearms currently require a NICS check, no matter where they occur.
Regarding the issue of private firearms sales, it is important to note that since 1968, it has been a federal felony for any private person to sell, trade, give, lend, rent or transfer a gun to a person he either knows or reasonably should know is not legally allowed to purchase or possess a firearm.
Mental Health Records and NICS
According to a recent General Accounting Office study, as of 2011 23 states and the District of Columbia submitted less than 100 mental health records to NICS; 17 states submitted less than ten mental health records to NICS; and four states submitted no mental health records to NICS.
A common misrepresentation is that criminals obtain firearms through sales at gun shows.
A 1997 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of state prison inmates who had used or possessed firearms in the course of their crimes found that 79 percent acquired their firearms from “street/illegal sources” or “friends or family.”
Only 1.7 percent obtained firearms from anyone (dealer or non-dealer) at a gun show or flea market.
In 2010, the FBI denied 72,659 NICS checks out of a total of 14,409,616. But only 62 of these cases were actually prosecuted, and only 13 resulted in a conviction.
“Universal Background Checks”
While the term “universal background checks” may sound reasonable on its face, the details of what such a system would entail reveal something quite different. A mandate for truly “universal” background checks would require every transfer, sale, purchase, trade, gift, rental, or loan of a firearm between all private individuals to be pre-approved by the federal government. In other words, it would criminalize all private firearms transfers, even between family members or friends who have known each other all of their lives.
According to a January 2013 report from the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice, the effectiveness of “universal background checks” depends on requiring gun registration. In other words, the only way that the government could fully enforce such a requirement would be to mandate the registration of all firearms in private possession – a requirement that has been prohibited by federal law since 1986.