NICS System Questions and Concerns

Ok, got a question for those more knowledgeable about the NICS system than I am. Honestly, for a long time, I have not had to deal with it. My Michigan CPL has been accepted as a legitimate background check accepted by the ATF in leu of a NICS check. As I am now 39 and have held a Michigan CPL since I was 21, this covers a big chunk of time and a vast majority of my firearms purchases. However, as of 3/3/2020, the ATF is no longer accepting a Michigan CPL as a qualified background check throwing me back in getting a NICS check every time I make a firearms purchase. Since that date, I have had three NICS checks. Of these three NICS checks, the first one went fine, but it took about 45 minutes to get the proceed. However, the last two, the latest one being today, I have gotten a delay. I am looking for some insight into why I have been getting delayed. A couple theories I have are #1, volume. I normally purchase a firearm every 4 to 6 weeks. This is not coivd or pandemic buying. So, I have to wonder if I am getting some kind of flag due to 18 years of no NICS checks due to my CPL then suddenly what some might consider a rush of purchasing in a short length of time. #2 is who I am. I am Mr generic white guy. 39 year old white male named Brian Williams, 5’11" 180 pounds. I fit a lot of descriptions. #3 the system is just that bogged down, but talking with my FFL, volume is down significantly simply because the inventory is just not there. The thing is, even though I went a long time without a background check, I am not unknown to the ATF. I have a handful of stamps for naughty items, or is that maybe contributing to the class of user that I am getting lumped into?

I am also as we speak looking at the U.S. DOJ handout on what to do if you get a delay or deny. I am looking at maybe starting to go through the delay process to try to figure it out. I know it says wait 30 days, but before I do anything, I would like to know if anyone here has gone through the process. I hate to poke the bear if it has a downside.

Ultimately, the delays are inconvenient for me, but at the same time, it is not like I am buying out of some “need.” But as most of these purchases are done via on-line sellers sent and legally transferred via my FFL, I worry that these delays are going to morph into a deny. Any insight would be appreciated.

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Here in Florida, I try to avoid buying guns on Saturdays. The delay from the state checking system is so laggy on Saturdays, I would have to wait in the store for a couple of hours to take my gun home the same day.


Yea, this was today. The firearm (long gun) arrived at the FFL yesterday and we ran the NICS check at like 11, before most of the west coast was on line and the east coast was not on lunch rush. My other delay was on a thursday and I got my approval on monday, so we will see how long this takes.

In Florida, the background checks for CWFL holders only tags the state system.

Michigan does not have its own system, so FFL’s in Michigan call the FBI’s federal NICS system. It used to be that if you had a Michigan CPL, your CPL # served as your NICS check approval number and no contact or check was needed or required. Michigan State Police failed an audit earlier this year and the ATF/FBI determined that Michigan FFL’s could no longer accept the CPL as a background check so CPL holders now go through the same process as non-CPL holders.

In KY I fill out the paperwork and provide my CWL and it does not go through NICS.

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@MikeBKY, that’s true unless you are at Rural King where they run the NCIS check no matter what. At Whittaker’s I sail right through with my CCDW.

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Ditto on Rural King. I asked why they still run the computer check when one has their CCDW, and the gun counter guy told me because their home office is in Illinois. That explained it all. Same drill if purchasing a gun at the nearby military PX. They still run the computer check.

NCIS is a weird system and it throws delays for the strangest reasons. I had a Secret Clearance in the Navy essentially since I got out of boot camp, never an issue. I got a Top Secret with initials and all of the sudden I was getting delays. Got rid of the TS and things went right through again. Now I have no clearance and I’m still getting no delays. That being said there are relatively few of my name and age group and one of them is a Dr. I look myself up periodically.



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Just got hit with a delay on Friday for the first time. All new and frustrating to me.As far as I can tell you have no recourse other than wait and see until they deny it at which time you will need to appeal it. Seems to me they just created a new hoop for you to jump through.

There actually is one recourse and that is you can apply for a response to why you got delayed. The one thing there is that you are requested to do it 30 days AFTER you receive the delay in order for the information to find its way to the appropriate people. Of course that does nothing to help you while you are waiting. My delays have been 4 days. All I can say is thank god with these delays I have not “needed” that gun due to plenty of other choices at home and it’s really just an inconvenience . Trying to imagine what a buyer who truely felt like they needed one and needed it today would feel like during those four days.

Thanks for the insight and yes it is very inconvenient . I to have other weapons to rely on it is just theI want it now mentality I guess. Waiting 4 days I could handle but 30 would be frustrating.

You won’t have to wait 30 days, your FFL should have given you a pick up date if the NICS does not respond. Should be no more than a week (7 days). Which that surprises me as I thought from back in the day way back when working in a gun shop in college as an 18 year old, it was three days.

The sales guy was mumbling something about 7 days and 15 days something about a refund and something about 30 days but I was so aggravated I didn’t really pay attention. I know it’s not his fault and don’t blame him it’s just frustrating because you are at their mercy so to speak. Thanks for your input I appreciate it I’ll just wait for 7 days and see what happens.

@Dewey2, Interesting. Here is the policy per the ATF’s own website, but I believe they have been granted an extra 2 days due to the massive influx of NICS checks due to the run on the gun shops. And just curious, what about a refund? Refund of what? Every shop I have ever purchased a firearm from, I have never paid for the firearm until after a proceed is granted by the ATF. I am sure its fine if they did, just not what I would have expected. And yes, I understand your frustration and the frustration on behalf of your salesperson. Its not right.

I just spoke to one of the sales people and he said the same thing happened to him and it took him 7 days after delay issued.

I had ordered it online because they were not in stock at the store is why they charged CC hence they would give me a refund.
He also said it’s due to run on guns the system is over run and it also happened to someone this morning.

At the range where I work, we take payment as we’re waiting for the NICS to come through. It can take anywhere form 5 minutes to 7 days.

We did see a huge delay for a while there due to sheer volume. That’s gone down a lot in recent months as inventory is low ( :frowning: ).

Given your name is fairly common (Brian Williams is more common than Lech Kowalczyk (random Polish name)) it could take longer to go through the background system due to similar names.

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Looks like I am not the only one having issue with the NICS process. If I ever got a denial, I would do the same as O’Keefe. Reading the actual court filing is interesting as well.

I’m glad he’s got the pockets to fight that. Once you get on a list, you’re options for getting off are few to none. I was at the airport once to check in for a flight, and couldn’t use the kiosk, because it didn’t ask for my middle initial. My name was similar to someone on the No Fly list. I got it resolved, but it was difficult. Not the same as he’s going through, but avenues to appeal unjust outcomes are disappearing as the government takes more and more control to “keep us safe”.

I have encountered the same problem in Virginia. Not once but every time I tried buying a gun. The state police background check for concealed carry went thru without a problem. Nonetheless, two days after getting the concealed carry, I was delayed for 24 hours. I discovered the reason by accident. The military base where I go shooting imposed a strict ID verification process and anyone not currently in the military or working as a civilian must undergo a background check. I was notified I couldn’t enter the base because there was an open family domestic violence case against me, which happened in 1994. I was shocked and complained I never been charged or accused of anything but the military police commanding officer told me there was nothing he could do, it showed in the NICS and FBI computers (yes, there are two separate systems). No went to the county court where the alleged charges happened and they couldn’t find any record whatsoever. They gave me a certified court record there was no charges or accusations ever, I went to the neighboring county just in case and the same happened. I submitted the official records to the state police and as good burrocrats they refused to accept the documents or confirm my name appeared in their records. I went back and spoke with a former Marine JAG officer who is now a circuit judge and asked for advise. He issued a court order directing the state police to clear the record and report it to the federal databases. The military base accepted the first documents and apologized. They went as far as verifying my name against the database and what happened was a man with my same name, middle initial was different had been charged in 1994 but the charges were dismissed and the court clerk updated the files. When they upgraded their system it submitted the non updated records. The delay was caused by checking the name and having to follow up to make sure it was me. What helped me was submitting my social security with the purchase application because the agent was able to quickly determine there were separate people. Later, when I retired, I discovered someone had stolen my social security and had been used by 3 different illegals to apply for jobs, but that’s another fight. I would suggest you send a request under the Freedom of information to the FBI asking for a copy of your police blotter. They charge $50 for the “convenience” fee but it will tell you if there are any errors on your file, after I fixed my problem, I was told by the repository manager the files have an average of 15% error and people don’t know it. I suspect, there is someone with a similar name who was accused of wrongdoing in your state at one point.