A subtle facet of the gun control measure rushed into law earlier this year is now playing out at your local gun store. 

This week, the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System notified federal firearms licensees that it is "working towards the implementation of an enhanced background check process for persons between the ages of 18-20." The process includes stretching the allowed check period from the traditional three business days to as many as 10 business days so that additional "outreach and research" can be done into the individual’s juvenile information or mental health prohibitions if needed. 

"As a result, transactions on persons between the ages of 18-20 will initially be delayed," noted the announcement. The move would impact as many as 13 million Americans.

Additionally, FFLs will have to provide an address to NICS for those subject to the enhanced process. While the ATF Form 4473 filled out for over-the-counter gun transfers contains the home address already, it has not traditionally been part of the initial background check process.

The change comes as part of the 80-page "Bipartisan Safer Communities Act" that was steamrolled through Congress this summer in near-record time and signed by President Biden in a rare Saturday press event. The "Bipartisan" label came as it was passed with the support of 29 Republicans – 15 in the Senate and 14 in the House – who sided with Democrats on Capitol Hill to send the bill to Biden's desk. Unlike past gun control bills that at least offered some sort of minor concession to gun owners, America's more than 70 million estimated gun owners got nothing but a cold shoulder and billions in additional fiscal debt from the mammoth regulatory expansion. 

Just three weeks after signing the BSCA, Biden praised the narrow 48-46 Senate confirmation of Steve Dettelbach as the new Everytown-endorsed director of the ATF, saying specifically that, "as ATF Director, Steve will play a leading role in ensuring robust implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and driving forward other executive actions to fight crime and save lives."

NICS says it will follow normal purge requirements and delete the descriptive information used in making the check determination – including the individual's address – within 24 hours of the FFL being green-lit to proceed with the transfer. Further, unless expanded by Congress, the new process is set to sunset in 10 years.

At a time when the ATF has revoked FFLs at the highest rate in 16 years – some for extremely minor mistakes on paperwork, the trade group for the American firearms industry is advising gun shops to be compliant. 

"NSSF urges all firearm retailers to make themselves aware with the updates from the FBI’s NICS to ensure they are in compliance with the provisions of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act," Mark Oliva, public affairs director with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told Guns.com. "In the age of zero-tolerance ATF inspections, failure to comply with this law could cost a business their license and livelihood." 

Among the other guidance from NSSF to FFLs: 

•    NICS requires the prospective buyer’s address if 18-20 years of age because the BSCA requires NICS to immediately check with the “local law enforcement agency of the jurisdiction in which the person resides for the purpose of determining whether the person” became a prohibited person while a juvenile (while 16 years of age or older). 
•    NICS must inform the licensee as soon as possible, but in no case more than 3 business days, “whether cause exists to further investigate a possibly disqualifying juvenile record.” If cause exists, NICS must notify the licensee as soon as possible but no more than 10 business days from the initiation of the NICS check whether the buyer is prohibited. NICS cannot delay notifying the licensee after they complete the research. 
•    If NICS informs a licensee that there is “cause to further investigate,” then the licensee may not transfer the firearm until 10 business days have taken place after the initial NICS check. See 18 U.S.C. § 922 (t)(1)(C)(iii). 
•    If 10 business days have elapsed and NICS has not informed a licensee the buyer (18-20 years of age) is prohibited, then the licensee has the discretion (but not the obligation) to transfer the firearm to the buyer. Whether a licensee exercises that discretion is a business decision for each dealer. 
•    The enhanced background check for buyers under the age 21 sunsets after 10 years (September 30, 2023). 
•    $200 million is made available to States through grants to upgrade record repository systems to assist States in providing juvenile records.

Banner image: President Joe Biden, delivers remarks about student loan forgiveness, Wednesday, August 24, 2022, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. (Photo: White House)

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