When purchasing a gun from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) it is common knowledge that one must fill out the ATF’s Form 4473. Once complete, the FFL dealer will use the information you provided on the form to run a background check on you using NICS, which lasts only a few moments. While the vast majority of transactions go through without any complications, there may be a case where you walk out of the gun store empty-handed.
The good news is though, that this is extremely rare. In 2018, (according to FBI statistics) 25.6 million people went through the process without problems, while around 181,000 were denied their gun sale. Keep in mind the difference between a delay and a denial. If you are delayed or put on hold, the FBI will conduct a more thorough investigation into the purchase. If the FFL Dealer receives no updates from the FBI after 3 days, he is free to sell the gun to the customer. Delays are also quite rare, and they usually occur when someone has a similar name and birthday to somebody else who is legally barred from purchasing a firearm. To reduce the chance of a delay, make sure to provide your social security number when filling out a Form 4473.
Before I get into how challenging a denial works, let’s go over the reasons that you may have been denied:
You have been convicted of a felony. While it is possible to get your felony expunged, some states still prohibit felons, no matter what, from purchasing a firearm.
You are addicted to or a user of a controlled substance. This includes marijuana, as it is illegal under federal law. This means that even in a state where it is legal, you still cannot purchase a firearm. Some states have also included excessive alcohol use as a reason for denial.
You have been convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year, or a misdemeanor punishable by more than two years. Again, you must check your state’s laws on whether an expungement will restore your right to buy a gun.
You are a fugitive from justice
You have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. This only applies to convictions for the abuse of a spouse, live-in significant other, or child.
If nothing else on this list applies to you, then you may be restricted from buying a gun under state law, instead of federal law. California, for example, prohibits those convicted of misdemeanor assault from buying a firearm.
There is a current restraining or protection order for domestic violence against you. These remain within the NICS system for as long as they are in effect.
You are under indictment for a crime carrying a possible sentence of over a year but haven’t been convicted yet.
You have been declared mentally unfit to own a firearm, or you have involuntarily committed to a mental institution. Some states will automatically expunge records of this after a certain period.
You are a federally denied person. This simply means that the FBI deems you ineligible to own a firearm, whether or not your state has entered any relevant records into the NICS system.
You have been dishonorably discharged from the US Military.
You are an illegal alien.
You have renounced your citizenship to the United States.
If you have been denied the purchase of a firearm by an FFL Dealer, then you can file an appeal with the FBI. There are two types of firearm appeals: A Firearm-Related Challenge and a Voluntary Appeal File.
A Firearm-Related Challenge is necessary when you believe you have been wrongfully denied a firearm. The process will tell you why your background check was denied, and the opportunity to challenge your denial online.
A Voluntary Appeal File (VAF) is designed for firearm purchasers who believe they are legally allowed to buy firearms, but have been declined their purchase more than once, or experience frequent delays in the process. If your application is successful, you will be assigned a Unique Personal Identification Number. For future gun purchases, you will provide this number for your background check. You are required to submit your fingerprints as part of the VAF. You may go to your local police department or sheriff’s office for fingerprinting, but you may have to pay a fee.
However, if you are someone who is legally allowed to purchase a firearm, then findarms.com is a fast and simple way to search for firearms professionals and FFL Dealers. You can compare quotes, reviews, and profiles of each dealer or firearm professional. Once you find a firearm dealer or professional that you like, you can connect with them through the website to get more information.