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FOIA Request Shows FBI Adding Non-Prohibited Buyers to NICS Preventing Gun Purchases

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Article first appeared on Ammoland.com

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –-(Ammoland.com)- A Freedom of Information Act document request (FOIA) obtained by Gun Owners of America (GOA) shows that people who haven’t committed a crime that would not make them a prohibited person could still be put on the prohibited list.

The FOIA request (embedded below) shows that the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) considers anyone with a warrant for arrest to be a prohibited person. The person doesn’t even have to be aware that a judge issued a warrant for their arrest. The crime doesn’t even have to rise to the level of a violation of the law that would block a person from owning a gun.

The form reads: “The legal counsel of the DOJ, the ATF, and the FBI have agreed that a hit on any active criminal warrant involving a felony or misdemeanor criminal charge disqualifies an individual from receiving a firearm. The element of flight does not have to be determined at the time of the denial.”

According to the FBI, a fugitive from justice is defined as the following:

  • A person who has fled from any state to avoid prosecution for a felony or misdemeanor; or
  • A person who leaves the state to avoid giving testimony in any criminal proceeding; or
  • A person who knows that misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against him or her and who leaves the state of prosecution and does not appear before the prosecuting tribunal.

Let’s say the authorities obtain a video of a person doing donuts in a parking lot. The police issue a warrant for reckless endangerment. The FBI’s system considers that person a fugitive from justice even if they are not, and if that person goes to buy a gun, NICS will kick back a denial. The offense doesn’t have to rise to the level needed to strip a person of your gun rights, but you cannot buy a gun since there is a warrant out for that person.

FBI FOIA Request Shows the FBI Adding Non-Prohibited Buyers to NICS Redacted Paragraph
FBI FOIA Request Shows the FBI Adding Non-Prohibited Buyers to NICS Redacted Paragraph

The police have no obligation to inform a person of a warrant before that person becomes a prohibited person. NICS assumes that person is a fugitive from justice even if the FBI does not consider that person a fugitive from justice.

Since NICS will assume the buyer falls into one of the categories of a fugitive from justice, the person denied at the time purchase can appeal.

In the United States, we have a long tradition of “innocent until proven guilty,” but the FBI seems to take the opposite approach. The person who is denied has to provide the FBI with evidence that they have never fled the state.

This requirement equates to proving that a person never wore a red pair of shoes. The accuser insisting the person wore red shoes (in this case, the government is the accuser) doesn’t have to provide evidence. The person accused of wearing red shoes has to show proof that they have never worn red shoes. The task is almost impossible and one of the reasons the burden of proof falls on the accuser in legal cases.

To buy a gun from a gun dealer, the purchaser has to fill out a 4473 form. If the buyer is rejected because of an outstanding warrant, the FBI will notify the ATF that a prohibited person tried to buy a gun. This notification could lead to an investigation, and according to the FBI, the buyer has to prove that they never tried to flee the state.

To many, this FOIA shows why NICS is broken and beyond repair. It proves that background checks do not work and infringe on our rights as free people. With the current background check bills that passed the house and in the Senate, gun buyers might be facing more roadblocks in gun ownership.

FBI FOIA Request Shows the FBI Adding Non-Prohibited Buyers to NICS Redacted


About John Crump

John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.

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