How to Appeal a Federal Denial or Delay of Your Handgun Purchase

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Appealing a Federal Background Check for a Handgun Denial or Delay

Here at Banks & Brower, LLC, we help TONS of people obtain their concealed carry permits, and often times after they have been denied the right to carry a concealed weapon. Be it a stated-based four-year application or a lifetime application denial, the sting of being turned down is a tough pill to swallow for many gun enthusiasts. And, having nowhere else to turn and with a strong sense of helplessness, many of these denied individuals reach out to our firm for help and more information. As such, if you found yourself reading this blog, and you are looking to appeal your state-based denial, click here to read our blog on how the state-based appeals process works. This blog, however, is focused on the federal appeals process.

While state-based denials, and thus appeals, are on the rise, we are also seeing a large uptick in federally based denials. In fact, and however strange it might seem, we have seen many Indiana gun enthusiasts with State-certified gun permits laminated in their wallets being denied the right to purchase a handgun by the federal government. While this may seem rather odd, it truly isn’t. As anyone that has worked in government can tell you, the states (regardless of which one) rarely communicate well with the federal government and vice versa.

Because of this lack of transparency between the different levels of government (and because of differing opinions on legal interpretations), people are being approved for gun permits at the state level (after having met strict state requirements), but the federal government either denies them on their own grounds based on good information, bad information, and/or a combination of both. Nevertheless, that doesn’t make the person feel any better about having been denied by the feds when they were approved by their individual state firearm division. But, what do you do if you are in fact denied federally?

It helps to first understand how the federal process works. Again, for the state-based process, click here. When you go to purchase a firearm, the first thing a company will do prior to handing the gun over is to run you through their federal database. In layman’s terms, they are doing a quick eligibility check on you to see if there are any issues. Many times this goes through without a hitch, but sometimes they need additional time to determine your ability to purchase the firearm (often referred to as a “delay”). This can take anywhere from 24-hours to a week or even 30 days or more. The information that these stores are accessing is linked to your federal, National Instant Criminal Background Check (“NICS”). The NICS is a database which combines “several databases which contain records of persons with disqualifying conduct” and/or convictions. Your name is linked with your date of birth, age, race, gender, etc. If your name is linked to any statutory disqualifier, the store is prohibited from selling you a firearm.

To look at all the federal disqualifiers under 18 U.S. Code 922(g), click here.

Assuming you are denied or delayed, and you believe a mistake has been made by the federal government, the very first decision you need to make is whether or not you are going to fight the federal government on your own, or hire an attorney. A lawyer familiar with the process is often a good path to choose, as that will allow you a sounding board for the many questions you will have during this long process, and, assuming you hire an experienced attorney, they will be familiar with everything you need to do to complete this process. They will often prepare the appeals paperwork on your behalf as well.

Regardless, assuming your denial and/or delay is based on something contained in the NICS (especially something criminal), you can request an appeal of your NICS electronically by clicking here, or you can send in a written request to: Federal Bureau of Investigations, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, NICS Section, Appeal Services Team, Module A-1, Post Office Box 4278, Clarksburg, WV 26302-4278.

When you submit your appeal request (or your attorney does on your behalf), you will want to include any additional, relevant information. For example, you or your lawyer can obtain certified court documents and/or other affidavits or records that can help explain the discrepancies in your NICS. These documents are often accompanied by a letter explaining why you feel you were wrongfully denied the ability to purchase a firearm and/or your delay is uncalled for.

Regardless of what you include in the request for an appeal, you must include the following: (1) your complete name, (2) your complete mailing address, (3) your fingerprints [on a delayed appeal this is required, but it should be ink-based fingerprints, not electronic, unless you request permission], and (4) your NICS transaction number or State Transaction Letter (STN) [these can be found on your letter from the FBI explaining the reason for the denial/delay].

After you submit your request for an appeal, you or your lawyer will receive a letter from the FBI stating the timelines of events to follow. On any given month, the FBI is generally experiencing a 2-3 month lull in responding to appeals. So….be patient! They will eventually respond formally, in writing, by way of US mail. In that letter will be an explanation of the appeals outcome and the justification for it. If you are denied again, they will often supply you the contact information for the agency that is causing the delay and/or denial. You may then contact them directly.

As anyone can see, this process is not as simple as picking up the phone and making a phone call. It often makes sense to hire an experienced attorney to help lead you through this cumbersome process. Should you or a loved one be denied a right to purchase a firearm through the federal government, give the experienced former prosecutors at Banks & Brower, LLC, a call today. We are available 24/7/365 at or by calling us at (317) 870-0019.