May 12, 2020
By Mark Chesnut
Greatly increased gun sales over the past two months has resulted in corresponding increased instant background checks. Unfortunately in the COVID-19 era, those checks have often lagged to the point that “instant” doesn’t always apply.
Following a record March and an April with a 71-percent increase in gun sales over last April, several Republican senators recently wrote a lengthy letter to the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency tasked with running NICS. The senators are interested in how the system can be made more efficient.
“In response to the pandemic, millions of Americans practicing safe social distancing have lined up outside of firearm retailers in order to purchase firearms,” the senators wrote to Christopher Ray, FBI director. “The resulting record-breaking surge has placed significant pressure on the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS), which helps to ensure that criminals and other prohibited persons cannot gain access to firearms.”
Of particular interest to the senators is the fact that the NICS law, which was touted when passed as being “instant,” allows only three business days after the background check is submitted for a response. If a proceed is not received by that time, the retailer can go ahead and transfer the firearm to the purchaser.
Of course, gun-ban groups have long fought to have that time extended. That’s a proposal that most pro-gun citizens, including these Republican senators, are dead-set against.
“Federal law expressly recognizes the right of law-abiding citizens to purchase and possess firearms but bars certain individuals like criminals and the dangerously mentally-ill,” the senators wrote. “NICS was designed to provide a quick and accurate determination about whether a person can lawfully purchase a firearm from a federally licensed firearms dealer. Any unreasonable and unnecessary delay beyond the three business days unlawfully impedes the exercise of a person’s fundamental constitutional right.”
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.