The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System took their page on appeals down months ago, but now it’s back and a gun rights lawyer has the low down.
In October 2015, all of the NICS’s nearly 70 appeals personnel were temporarily reassigned to assist in running initial criminal background checks as a result of a huge and enduring spike in gun sales. Though executive order called for more examiners, the backlog of NICS appeals stagnated. In January 2016 the NICS website indicated the appeals services team was still processing files received in June 2015. When Guns.com checked six months later, NICS reported they were processing appeal cases received in July 2015. A month later, the agency removed appeals waiting period information from its website altogether.
The good news, as reported by New York attorney Paloma A. Capanna this week, the appeals site is back up.
The bad news is, they are currently working cases received in August 2015, a 19~ month backlog.
The current Voluntary Appeal process as outlined by Capanna, with special emphasis on New York residents as the state has submitted nearly 560,000 reports into NICS since the NY SAFE Act under new mental health and domestic violence disqualifiers:
If you are denied: be sure to obtain documentation at the FFL about the denial. There’s a standard ATF card/brochure that FFLs in our upstate region are quite good about giving to the customer. You’ll need information from that denial to start your appeals process.
If you appeal: you can have an attorney represent you. Even though the NICS appeals process is “user friendly” and available on-line, particularly if you are a NY resident and you believe you have been wrongfully reported under a false “mental health” allegation, it would be wise to work with an attorney as early as possible in the process.
If your appeal is denied: you are facing deadlines for filing your subsequent appeal, and will almost certainly need an attorney for this step. The attorney may be limited to the record created at the FFL and then the ATF NICS appeal, which is why I recommend getting a lawyer involved as soon as possible.
Legislation to ensure that a NICS appeal is issued a determination within 60 days was introduced to the House by a Minnesota Republican last year, but failed to make it out of committee and died in the last Congress.