CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — The FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division in Clarksburg celebrated the 25th anniversary of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) on Thursday.
This NICS is a national system that conducts background checks for Federal Firearm Licensees (FFL) in over 40 states and territories and aids the remaining states with records on people who want to possess firearms.
When an FFL has someone who would like to buy a firearm, they can contact the NICS division over the phone or electronically and have the buyer fill out a special form. Michael Christman, the Assistant Director of CJIS said the process has become so quick it can even give the seller an answer within 15 minutes.
In a speech to hundreds of attendees, Christman said in the last year alone, the NICS has added three million prohibiting records to their database, and a quarter of them were related to mental health.
Since it was established in 1998, the NICS has seen patterns of volume increase, meaning more people getting access or wanting access to firearms.
“The volume over time has increased and that’s due to many factors. I will say election season impacts gun sales, things that are happening in the world. Sometimes even things internationally that you wouldn’t expect would have an impact here at home but do. You can see the COVID years were actually higher volume which was interesting but you can see there are several things that impact the volume and we have to adjust we certainly have a very busy season come November and December so we’re gearing up for that which is why we’re celebrating this just a hair early,” the Section Chief of the NICS, Trudy Ford said.
In the 25 years of its existence, the NICS has had to adapt to the “ever-growing” gun business and any new laws passed. Recently, Congress passed two pieces of legislation, including the NICS Next Denial Notification Act which says that the NICS is required to notify the relevant local and state law enforcement authority within 24 hours when a prohibited person fails a NICS background check and was trying to purchase a firearm or explosive.
“[The Next Denial Notification Act] requires NICS to notify the law enforcement agency where the purchase was attempted and where the potential purchaser resides, “ Christman said. He added that there are 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country that will be able to get these notifications from NICS.
The anniversary event held on Oct. 12 came a month earlier than the real anniversary on Nov. 30 due to the expectation that there will be a higher volume of firearm purchases during that time of the year.