NICS e-check goes down one week before Christmas

A man fills out a firearms background check form (Photo:

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System experienced an outage during one of the industry’s most profitable weekends. (Photo:

The FBI’s online system for federal background checks failed the weekend before Christmas, costing gun dealers thousands of dollars.

Stephen Fischer, an FBI spokesperson, told Friday the National Instant Criminal Background Check System “experienced limited degraded service” Dec. 16 and Dec. 17 — one of the industry’s busiest weekends for sales all year long.

“There is no information regarding the number of background checks that Federal Firearms Licensees may have attempted to submit,” he said. “Checks were still available via the phone.”

For Jim McClain — president of Jim’s Firearms in Baton Rouge — the outage forced him to turn customers away, unable to perform the background checks necessary to complete a gun sale.

Scott Roe, owner of Spillway Sportsman in nearby Port Allen, Louisiana, likewise told WBRZ the failure cost him big — a combined $70,000 when accounting for McClains losses, too.

The two owners find fault with the FBI’s explanation, insisting the system didn’t crash when it recorded its single busiest day every for checks — Black Friday.

Indeed, Fischer confirmed Friday the system maintained an availability rate of more than 99 percent through Nov. 30.

Other gun dealers reported similar outages in years past, blaming the high volume of background checks conducted in December in anticipation of Christmas, according to WBRZ. reached out to the National Shooting Sports Foundation for comment regarding how many retailers experience NICS e-Check failures in December. The association did not respond to request for comment.

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