Law Enforcement Assistance_National Instant Criminal Background Check System

To provide a system so that any Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL) could gain information, by telephone or by other electronic means, on whether receipt of a firearm by a prospective buyer would violate Federal or State laws through the proper completion of Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Fireams (ATF) Form

Agency - Department of Justice

The Department of Justice enforces the law and defends the interest of the United States, ensuring public safety against threats foreign and domestic; providing Federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; seeking just punishment for those guilty of unlawful pursuits; and ensuring fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.

Office - NICS Program Office, Post Office Box 4278, Clarksburg, WV 26302-4278.
Website Address

Program Accomplishments


Uses and Use Restrictions

The NICS Operations Center conducts NICS background checks by analyzing and evaluating criminal history records to determine whether the transfer of a firearm to an individual may violate State or Federal law.

The staff at the Operations Center provides technical and operational support to users, provides customer service to FFLs and State Point of Contacts (POCs), processes appeals of denied transactions, and prepares management and statistical reports on the operation of the NICS.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

All persons purchasing firearms.

Beneficiary Eligibility

The Federal Firearm Licensees and American public.


Initial request for services must be from a licensed and enrolled FFL. For checks performed by the FBI, FFLs may contact the NICS Operation Center by telephone via a toll- free number or, in the future, electronically by computer. If a NICS background check results in no matching records, the transfer will be allowed, and the FFL will be provided with a unique NICS Transaction Number (NTN). If one or more matching records are found, an FBI examiner will review the record(s) to determine if the subject of the record may be identical with the prospective purchaser and to determine if the record contains information which may prohibit the sale of the firearm. If so, the transfer will be denied, and the prospective buyer will be advised of the process for appealing the decision if he/she believes it is incorrect. The FBI may contact local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies and courts to resolve questions about an individual who appears to be prohibited from purchasing a firearm, as well as to request clarification regarding information in a prior record or disposition. After analyzing all information, the FFL is then contacted with a "Proceed" or a "Deny" status.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination


This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Initial request for services must be from a licensed and enrolled FFL. For checks performed by the FBI, FFLs may contact the NICS Operation Center by telephone via a toll-free number or, in the future, electronically by computer.

Award Procedures

Not applicable.




Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, Public Law 103-159; National Firearms Act, 26 U.S.C. Chapter 53.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Three business days.


Persons denied the right to purchase a firearm may appeal the denial by writing to the NICS Program Office, Post Office Box 4278, Clarksburg, WV 26302-4278. Another option that is available is e-mailing the appeal to: .


Not applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements


Length and Time Phasing of Assistance


Post Assistance Requirements




The CJIS Division internal audit staff conducts audits of Point of Contact states to ensure compliance with the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act requirements, FBI NICS regulation, and the validation of the completeness and accuracy of the states criminal history records. Additionally, the audit staff conducts audits of Protection Order File (POF) records nationwide. The accuracy of the criminal history records and the POF data is critical to the NICS Program since this is the information that the NICS bases its decision on whether the transfer of the firearm would violate state or federal laws. Furthermore, the internal audit staff conducts audits to determine the accuracy of data submitted by federal agencies for inclusion in the NICS Index.



Financial Information

Account Identification



FY 07 $24,880,582; FY 08 est not available; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance


Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Title 28, CFR, Part 25 National Instant Criminal Background Check System Regulation, Public Laws 103-159 Federal Regulations, NICS Brochure, Appeals Brochure, POC Manual and FFL Manual.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

NICS Program Office, Post Office Box 4278, Clarksburg, WV 26302-4278.

Headquarters Office

Assistant Director, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, 1000 Custer Hollow Road, Clarksburg, WV 26306. Telephone: (304) 625-2222. FTS: (304) 625-2222.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals


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Edited by: Michael Saunders

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