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Common Reasons for NICS Denial and How to Avoid Them

Common Reasons for NICS Denial and How to Avoid Them

In the United States, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) determines whether a prospective buyer is eligible to purchase firearms or explosives. While the vast majority of background checks are approved swiftly, there are instances where individuals who are eligible to purchase a firearm are denied the right to purchase one.  In this article, we will explore the common reasons for NICS denial and how to avoid them.

Understanding the NICS Background Check

The NICS background check, short for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, is a critical step in purchasing firearms in the United States. This system, administered by the FBI, aims to ensure that firearms are not sold to individuals prohibited by law from possessing them. 

The NICS background check involves querying federal and state databases to verify the eligibility of prospective firearm buyers. It screens for factors such as criminal history, mental health records, domestic violence restraining orders, immigration status, and other disqualifying criteria. 

Understanding the intricacies of the NICS background check is essential for both firearm purchasers and sellers alike, as compliance with its requirements is mandatory under federal law. By comprehending the purpose and procedures of the NICS background check, individuals can navigate the firearm purchasing process responsibly and contribute to maintaining public safety.

Reasons for NICS Denial

Common Reasons for NICS Denial

Understanding the common reasons for NICS denial and taking proactive steps to avoid them can help ensure a smoother purchasing process and uphold public safety. Let’s explore some of these reasons and ways to prevent them.

1. Criminal History

A person’s criminal history plays a big role in National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) denials. If someone has been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanor, or has an open case against them, they can’t buy a gun. It is important to stay out of trouble to avoid this. 

Getting advice from a lawyer is key for those with a criminal record. They can help you understand what rights you have and if there is a way to clear your name so you can buy a gun. By being proactive and following the law, you can improve your chances of passing the background check and show you’re responsible for owning a gun.

2. Domestic Violence Convictions or Restraining Orders

If you have a domestic violence conviction or are under a restraining order related to domestic violence, you might be denied when buying a gun, according to federal law. To avoid this, focus on healthy relationships and get help if you’re in a domestic violence situation. 

Follow any restraining orders against you, get legal advice to protect your rights, and avoid being denied during the FBI background check. By dealing with domestic violence issues and following the law, you can make sure gun purchase goes smoothly.

3. Mental Health Adjudications

Individuals who have been formally determined as mentally incompetent or have been committed to a mental institution without their consent face limitations in buying firearms. Emphasizing the importance of mental well-being is key, and seeking professional support if grappling with mental health challenges is crucial. 

By actively addressing mental health illness and adhering to prescribed treatment plans, you can steer clear of potential denials during the NICS background check process.

4. Drug Use or Addiction

Individuals who are addicted to or unlawfully use controlled substances face restrictions on purchasing firearms. To steer clear of NICS denial, it’s crucial to abstain from illegal drug use and seek assistance for substance abuse problems. Participation in substance abuse treatment programs and maintaining sobriety can showcase eligibility for firearm ownership. Furthermore, individuals who have successfully completed a substance abuse treatment program and can demonstrate their recovery as a reformed addict may be able to refute any concerns about their eligibility for firearm ownership. 

By addressing substance abuse issues head-on and committing to a sober lifestyle, individuals can enhance their chances of passing the NICS background check and obtaining firearms legally.

5. Immigration Status

Understanding the nuances of immigration status is essential, especially regarding firearm ownership in the United States. Non-immigrant visa holders and specific categories of undocumented immigrants face restrictions on purchasing firearms. For non-citizens residing in the country, it’s imperative to grasp firearm ownership’s legal framework and adhere to immigration laws meticulously. 

By familiarizing oneself with these regulations and ensuring compliance, individuals can mitigate the risk of being denied during the NICS background check process, thus navigating the complexities of immigration status and firearm ownership responsibly.

6. Fugitive Status

Being a fugitive from justice can block individuals from buying firearms. It’s crucial to deal with legal problems quickly and take care of any warrants or legal duties to avoid being denied by the NICS background check because of being a fugitive. If someone is considered a fugitive from justice, they have outstanding charges or warrants for their arrest, often in connection with a crime. 

By addressing these issues promptly and fulfilling legal obligations, individuals can ensure they are not classified as fugitives and thus maintain their eligibility to purchase firearms under the NICS system. Whether it involves resolving pending court cases, complying with law enforcement requests, or addressing outstanding warrants, taking proactive steps to address legal matters is essential for avoiding denial during the firearm purchasing process. By demonstrating a commitment to resolving legal issues and upholding legal obligations, individuals can navigate the NICS background check successfully and exercise their rights responsibly.

7. Restraining Orders for Stalking or Harassment

Individuals facing specific restraining orders concerning stalking or harassment are barred from buying firearms. Respecting personal boundaries and adhering to court-issued mandates are crucial to sidestepping NICS denial in these instances. 

Individuals can avoid complications during the background check process by recognizing and respecting the legal parameters outlined in restraining orders. Prioritizing compliance with court orders is imperative to ensure eligibility for firearm purchases and maintain legal standing.

8. Alien Illegally in the United States

Undocumented immigrants or those unlawfully staying in the United States face restrictions on buying firearms. It’s crucial for them to abide by immigration laws and work towards obtaining legal residency or citizenship to prevent being denied during the NICS background check due to their immigration status. 

By prioritizing compliance with immigration regulations and pursuing lawful residency or citizenship, individuals in this situation can avoid encountering obstacles when attempting to purchase firearms.

9. False Information on the Application

One frequent cause of denial in the NICS background check process is providing false information on the application form. This often involves inaccuracies about identity, criminal history, or other important details. It’s crucial to thoroughly review the information before submitting the application to ensure its correctness.

Falsifying information not only leads to denial but also carries potential legal repercussions. Therefore, it’s essential to be truthful and accurate in all aspects of the application process to avoid complications and ensure compliance with the law.

Tips to Prevent NICS Denial

Prevention is key when it comes to navigating the complexities of firearm ownership and the NICS background check process. To ensure a smooth experience and avoid potential denials, consider the following tips:

  1. Know Your Rights and Responsibilities – Take the time to familiarize yourself with both federal and state laws governing firearm ownership. Understand the categories of individuals prohibited from owning firearms and any associated restrictions.
  2. Conduct a Self-Check – Before attempting to purchase a firearm, review your own criminal record for any inaccuracies or issues that may arise during the background check. Addressing these beforehand can help mitigate potential complications.
  3. Seek Legal Advice – If you’re unsure about your eligibility to own a firearm or have concerns about specific legal matters, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a qualified attorney specializing in firearms law. They can provide tailored advice and address any questions or uncertainties you may have.
  4. Be Transparent – During the background check process, honesty is paramount. Provide accurate information and disclose any relevant details, such as past criminal convictions or mental health history. Transparency can help streamline the process and demonstrate your commitment to compliance.
  5. Stay Informed – Stay updated on any changes or updates to firearm laws and regulations that may impact your eligibility to purchase or possess firearms. Remaining informed allows you to adapt accordingly and maintain compliance with evolving legal requirements.

By proactively adhering to these prevention tips, you can confidently navigate the firearm purchasing process and reduce the likelihood of encountering obstacles or denials during the NICS background check.


In conclusion, comprehending the typical reasons for NICS denial and actively addressing potential concerns can streamline the firearm purchasing journey. Upholding legal standards, prioritizing mental health, and fostering healthy relationships are crucial for retaining eligibility to buy firearms and upholding public safety. By remaining informed and proactive, individuals can successfully navigate the NICS background check process and responsibly exercise their Second Amendment rights, avoiding issues such as addiction, dishonorable discharge, martial concerns, and other disqualifying factors.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some FAQs about NICS Denial:

Q. How often does the NICS system deny people?

The frequency of denials by the NICS system varies over time and depends on several factors, including changes in legislation, enforcement efforts, and the overall number of background checks conducted. While the exact statistics fluctuate, most background checks result in approvals, with denials accounting for a relatively small percentage. However, even though denials are infrequent, they play a crucial role in preventing firearms from ending up in the hands of individuals who are legally prohibited from possessing them, contributing to public safety efforts.

Q. How can I check the status of my NICS application?

To check the status of your NICS application, you can contact the FBI’s NICS Section directly. You’ll need to provide your name, date of birth, and the unique NICS Transaction Number (NTN) assigned to your application. The FBI’s NICS Section can provide updates on the status of your background check and inform you if your application has been approved, delayed, or denied. It’s important to note that the process may vary depending on whether you submitted your application through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) or directly to the FBI’s NICS Section.

Q. What other options are available if the NICS denies me?

If denied by the NICS, individuals can appeal the decision through the FBI’s NICS Appeals Services Team (NAST). This process allows applicants to challenge the denial by providing additional information or correcting any errors that may have led to the rejection. It’s essential to follow the instructions provided in the denial letter and submit the appeal within the specified timeframe. Additionally, seeking legal advice from an attorney experienced in firearm law can offer guidance and support throughout the appeals process.

Get Expert Legal Guidance from Hinds Injury Law Las Vegas Today!

In a world where firearm ownership comes with many legal complexities, Hinds Injury Law Las Vegas offers expert guidance and support. If you are entangled in legal challenges concerning your gun rights or have uncertainties regarding your eligibility under NICS guidelines, our team of experienced attorneys in Las Vegas, Nevada, stands ready to assist you. Whether you’re seeking clarity on firearm laws, need assistance navigating the intricate NICS background check process, or require help addressing any legal issues related to gun ownership, we are committed to providing tailored solutions to meet your needs. 

Let us help you understand your rights, protect your interests, and find peace of mind knowing that you have knowledgeable advocates. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!