Should I Worry About a Background Check Denial?

What Causes a Firearm Background Check Denial?

As we previously discussed, you will be required to undergo a Firearms Background Check if you plan to buy a handgun. You may not know what factors are considered when that background check is performed. There are legal requirements that, if violated, will result in a background check denial. If you haven't already read up on the firearm background check process, do so here.

So what are the factors that prohibit a person from receiving a firearm under Federal law? Directly from the FBI website, here they are…

List of NICS Firearm Transfer Prohibited Factors

A person who has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year or any state offense classified by the state as a misdemeanor and is punishable by a term of imprisonment of more than two years.

§  Persons who are fugitives of justice—for example, the subject of an active felony or misdemeanor warrant.

§  An unlawful user and/or an addict of any controlled substance; for example, a person convicted for the use or possession of a controlled substance within the past year; or a person with multiple arrests for the use or possession of a controlled substance within the past five years with the most recent arrest occurring within the past year; or a person found through a drug test to use a controlled substance unlawfully, provided the test was administered within the past year.

§  A person adjudicated mental defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institution or incompetent to handle own affairs, including dispositions to criminal charges of found not guilty by reason of insanity or found incompetent to stand trial.

§  A person who, being an alien, is illegally or unlawfully in the United States.

§  A person, who, being an alien except as provided in subsection (y) (2), has been admitted to the United States under a non-immigrant visa.

§  A person dishonorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces.

§  A person who has renounced his/her United States citizenship.

§  The subject of a protective order issued after a hearing in which the respondent had notice that restrains them from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such partner. This does not include ex parte orders.

§  A person convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime which includes the use or attempted use of physical force or threatened use of a deadly weapon and the defendant was the spouse, former spouse, parent, guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited in the past with the victim as a spouse, parent, guardian or similar situation to a spouse, parent or guardian of the victim.

§  A person who is under indictment or information for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.

What If I Am Delayed or Denied?

So, if you are attempting to receive a firearm from a Federal Firearm License holder, and you are informed of a background check denial as a result of the required NICS firearm background check, it is because there has been a match found between your information and someone on the database of prohibited persons. That match could be coincidental and could be some other person with some personal information that matches yours. Sort of like different people in the phone book with the same name. You may share a name, a date of birth, or some other factor or combination of factors with someone on the prohibited database.  If it is you, then you don’t meet all the requirements for ownership of a firearm - at least according to the database. If that happens, and you don’t think the information is correct, there is an appeals process. The background check denial appeals process can be found at  Just don’t take it out on the Federal Firearms License holder. They are simply following the law.

And remember, individual states may have their own requirements that you may also have to comply with. Check your state's governmental website for specifics.

To go from background check denial to firearm background check process, click on this link.