Delays On NICS Checks During Virus Panic Buying


The FBI wants FFLs to know that the current high gun buying volumes and shut-down-related background check delays extend the “Brady Transfer Date” hold time that dealers must observe when a purchase is put in delayed status.

FBI NICS E-Check Welcome Page


As the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Section works through the impact of the COVID-19 operationally, we are working to maintain our services. We are aware that states may be considering options to protect the health and safety of their employees, which may include a reduction in office availability or even closure to some offices.

Should a state choose to limit days of operation by completely closing state offices one or more days a week or even indefinitely, this could potentially impact the Brady Transfer Date (BTD) by changing the time in which an FFL can legally transfer a firearm in a delayed status. The NICS Section urges FFLs to be cognizant of the impact this may have to your day-to-day operations, and also to stress the importance of adhering to the BTD that is provided to you at the time a transaction is put into a Delay status. The Brady Act does not federally prohibit an FFL from transferring a firearm after the third business day expires, even if the NICS Section has been unable to provide a proceed response, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(1).

We appreciate your patience and partnership during this critical time and potential impact to NICS operations.

The NICS examiner will provide the FFL with the date of the third business day after the firearm check was initiated. Business days do not include the day the check was initiated, Saturdays, Sundays, and any day state offices in the state of purchase are closed. If the FFL has not received from the NICS a final determination after three business days have elapsed since the delay response, it is within the FFL’s discretion whether or not to transfer the firearm (if state law permits the transfer). If the FFL transfers the firearm, the FFL must mark “No resolution was provided within three business days” on line 21d of the ATF Form 4473. It is recommended the FFL record the date provided in the delay response on which the firearm may be lawfully transferred under federal law if a final determination of proceed or denied is not received from the NICS.

When a transaction is DELAYED, the NICS examiner begins extensive research on the potential prohibitor. Upon completion of the research when a definitive status is determined, the FFL is contacted and given a PROCEED or DENY decision on the firearm transaction.

If your purchase is held for some reason and is classified as “delayed,” it could be days or weeks before your retailer can release the firearm.

So much for the Brady Transfer Date rule.


    • I am on my 5th day of my delay and since the purchase is at a “box” store policy is not to release the firearm after 3 days. Some people have told me I need to wait it out, others said that’s to long and sounds like my NICS got lost in “limbo” and to just go to another dealer and start over.
      It’s my 2st handgun purchase and i don’t know what i should do? I know 100% my background is clean. I have never been arrested or in any trouble with the law cept my last speeding ticket 12 years ago.
      Some advice please, Do I wait (i really like the pistol and can’t find that make or model for the price since all dealers have jacked up their prices on handguns due to the high demand)

      So wait or move on? Thanks

      • Big box (BPS) held my delay for 31 days, then cancelled my purchase “per company policy.” Since the transaction was cancelled, the NICS check is voided. Since it is voided without final disposition, there is no option for appeal, or disclosure request of the reason for the delay. Frustrations abound. Now working the long way around to document a clean record and obtain an LTC, hopefully to bypass this retail routine in the future.

  1. In Illinois the wait times seems to have gone from a few days to possibly more than a week. I think its ridiculous to pay for a gun at a dealer then fill out a 4473 and have to wait over a week potentially to actually be able to pick up the gun. I’m sort of new to gun purchases, I inherited guns from my Dad who past away and got a FOID card to have for the ownership of the guns. I guess its a busy time for gun purchases with all that’s going on in the country right now. I can wait, no big hurry to have my gun, but I do feel if you promise a 3 day max wait for background check.. You need to make sure you have the resources to make good on that time frame.

  2. In Alabama they have three days to approve or not the purchase. After that the store will let you take your purchase. That’s the law so far. Actually if a person has a pistol permit they shouldn’t need any background check. They have already been vetted! Maybe in Trumps next term we can fix that.

    • its like that here in Ky. Most states had the 3 day with no denied and you can take the gun home. that isn’t a unique thing. I wouldn’t get my hopes up on trump doing jack shit to expand gun rights. I’d expect more gun laws under a trump second term.

    • The FFL (Dealer) “may” proceed with the transfer after 3 days post application with no response. The decision to excersize this option is solely the description of the FFL (Dealer). Large box stores often span their franchises over multiple states and are considered exposed to litigation of various types, being a larger target by the anti-gun groups. Support your local FFL. You may find them more likely to follow the conservative side of the Brady Law.

  3. I think this a way to get waiting period. My gun order came to my FFL on Friday and it Got delayed but on the following Wed(3 buisiness days) it got approve. I do agree that if I have a CCW that they should be a able to check that it is vallid then you are checked. The Feds are slowly eroding our Gun Rights one small piece at a time. There is a bill in commitee right now that would put a 30% sales tax on firearm purchases and 50% sales tx on ammo purchases and require states that do not have it now, create a License program to buy guns.

  4. I was informed by my FFL that my check was delayed because I have a CWL permit. They said that the checks on people that do not have a permit come back right away. What gives. I would say that is a political stunt to delay all purchases.

  5. I have a delay in Texas- do not have my License to Carry (LTC) yet, so not exactly true if the statement was meant to be nationwide. In Texas, LTC means they write in your LTC number and perform the transfer.

  6. I am a first time purchaser of a weapon and it has been delayed almost a month now. This is crazy, i have a clean record and have had many background checks for employment

    • Kevin, its not the same. employer back ground checks have no relation to the NICS check. I guess now you see the absurdity of the back ground check system and how it infringes on your constitutional right

    • I am in Arizona and I have been waiting on my NICS check to come back as denied or approved. I am on day 31 and still no change on the delayed status for my gun purchase. This is ridiculous and I have a fingerprint clearance card for the state of Arizona and that was a pretty intense background check of my life to get that approved. I can’t believe politicians want more gun laws to make this process even worse. Horrible.

      • We are having the same problem in Arizona… 2 weeks and it went from delayed to open, but FFl has no idea what any of it means???

      • hate to break it to you but after 30 days you need a new nics check for that firearm purchase. You should see about getting a van upin #. I’m currently delays as well, been only a week though and I messed up and went to bass pro for one. So ill be waiting until it comes back.

  7. I have been refused in a background check. Trying to call or contact on-line was futile. I am a retired Postal Worker and a former combat Marine from the Viet-Nam War. Go figure. Any suggestions?

    • my advice is to buy a gun from a private individual in a face to face sell. assuming you are not a prohibited person due to felony conviction or domestic abuse and all that stuff etc etc and you are legally able to own a firearm

    • Regarding dealing with “your record” (erranious or not), you have two avenues. If your were in fact denied by NICS, you may appeal the denial and use the system to review. The FFL will have no information to assist you on your reason for denial- you will handle this with “the system.” You may also take the “hands on” route and apply for a copy of your FBI background summary, then take action to correct your record on anything noted. The FBI is pretty quick to turn around a summary once they receive the request and your fingerprint card. Formal certified docs (think court documents, etc) are usually the best form of backup to present back to the FBI to obtain a UPIN# (which functions as an envelope of reviewed and clarified details). The UPIN# does not eliminate future NICS background checks, but will assist in providing reference of review for the subjects they relate to- thus potentially eliminating future delays because of them. *I am not an attorney. I’m just another guy going through a similar clarification process right now for my LTC.

  8. What if the ffl exercised their discretion and legal right to go ahead with transfer after waiting necessary wait period then a denial comes in after the fact ? Anyone know?

  9. If a denial comes in after an FFL elects to perform an allowable transfer during a delay, the FFL shall report the transfer as being completed previous to denial as allowed by law. Intent of “the system” then is to result in the ATF knocking on the door of the recipient to retrieve the firearm. Fun times.

  10. Bought a rifle on june 17th 2020. The background check was delayed until August 4th. They said to call the challenge line and leave my name and number, and the firearms division would call back anytime from 8am-8pm, from any number, so i need to answer any number that calls my phone….. its now september 7th, (almost 3 months later) ive called the challenge line a few times and left my info, still have no idea whats going on. Is waiting 3 months for an approval reasonable? This seems criminal at this point.

    • Kc –

      Are you in Oregon? I purchased a handgun in October 2020 and I too was ‘delayed’ by NICS. I asked the FFL if they were going to transfer the gun after the 3 day waiting period if it was not cleared by then. The FFL said ‘NO’. They said that no FFL in Oregon will transfer a firearm until they receive a ‘Proceed’ from NICS. They stated that they are too afraid of liability issues. It has now been 5 months and I am still in limbo. The FFL called me and stated that OSP was cancelling many people on the ‘delayed’ status because there are just too many to process. The FFL had not received a cancelation on mine but said that they were going to cancel my purchase and refund my money. They charged me a 3.5% fee for using my credit card but said that they will not refund that fee. Obviously I was a little upset that they charged me for the gun, charged me a fee for using my credit card, I patiently waited 5 months with no movement on the background check, yet now they will refund my money but not the CC fee? They also told me the reason that they are doing this is because it is harder for the FFL to receive new guns to sell so they are starting to cancel those purchases where the purchaser is delayed by NICS and it has been over 3 months. That way they can have the gun available to sell it to someone else now that the prices of firearms have gone up.

  11. Went to pick up pistol I had ordered was told I’m on delay. I’ve never been in trouble with the law. My last gun purchase was about 6 years ago. Another store Got a couple 380 ez slides so I told my wife to go get her one . She had bought a gun 3 yrs ago. She walked in did the check and was walking out 20 minutes later. I don’t get it? Is it only men getting delayed? All of this happened in the same week.

  12. I purchased a handgun through Gun Brokers auction and it was shipped from Nevada to NH back on 9/19, my FFL received it on 9/29. The next day I went to do the necessary paper transfer work and was informed that I would be called the next day since it should take a couple hours (last time I purchased it took 5 mins before I went home with that purchase) So anyways the next morning I get a call from my FFl saying that I have been delayed…. { Federal Law calls for a 3 day wait, NH Law, I read, says 14 business days… It has been a month since I purchased my hand gun till today, and I still do not know what the reason for delay is…. It is not my 1st gun, I have owned guns for 50 years, bought my first Thompson when I was 18.
    Any thought on this since I am in the process of moving and I will have to have my gun shipped to another FFL close to me with a shipping cost of another 50 bucks plus another 50 for transfer fee…
    Calls the Dept of Safety in NH who does the NCIS never answers their phones as I have left messages

  13. After call to the USCCA, I called my FFL to see if they had any info and informed me that they hadn’t and that my form that I filled out was expiring the 29th I needed to fill out a new one, which I went and did yesterday the 28th, today I got a call back from my FFL and got the bad news of being delayed and it is from what they informed me is that the FFL here cannot override the check after the wait period went beyond the limit time, Tomorrow I will be going to the Resolution Center and get answers personally after I make some calls again to my Governor and the State Attorney General’s Office as well as the ACLU, considering the firearm is already bought and paid for, and also the Dept of Resolution Center which is part of the NH State Police, and now they are impeding my 2nd Amendment Right


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