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BUYING FIREARMS IN AMERICA
What the Numbers Say

06/21/04

Graphic of the NICS and CJIS sealsWe just took a look at the quarterly stats from our National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) program--the program that instantly determines whether a prospective gun buyer is eligible to buy firearms.

We thought you'd be interested in these stats too.

During January, February, and March of this year, a total of 2,156,952 people went to a store in America and asked to buy a firearm. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers abided by the law by calling in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to make sure each customer was eligible to make the purchase. The FBI got 1,129,588 of those calls.

Of the calls to us, how many people would you guess had their requests denied? A total of 15,794--a pretty hefty number.

Who were they and why were they denied? Here's the breakdown:

  •  13,112 were denied because they had a prior conviction for a crime punishable by a minimum of one year in jail.
  •  822 were denied because they had a domestic violence restraining order filed against them.
  •  776 were denied because they were fugitives from justice.
  •  464 were denied from the standing NICS file, a file made up of persons already designated as being federally prohibited from buying a firearm.
  •  294 were denied because they were illegal aliens.
  •  326 were denied for a variety of other reasons (these can include mental defectives and people who have renounced their U.S. citizenship or been given dishonorable discharges from the U.S. Armed Forces).

What about those fugitives from justice trying to buy a gun? Do they end up getting arrested? All the time!

You can find out more about NICS inside. And while you're there, check out other law enforcement services provided by our Criminal Justice Information Services Division: things like--