Record numbers of Americans are seeking to purchase firearms in transactions using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), launched by the FBI in 1998.
NICS is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. According to the FBI, over 230 million such checks have been made, leading to more than 1.3 million denials.
According to news reports: “The number of background checks in the NICS system has been generally increasing for the life of the system. There are many reasons for this. The general population has been increasing. The number of guns being sold per capita has increased, especially when there have been political threats of gun bans and increased restrictions on gun buying and gun ownership.”