NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Results Of First Year Of Instant Background Checks

December 1, 1999

Yesterday marked the close of the first year of instant background checks of firearms purchasers. What have been the results so far?

  • Some 8.7 million people attempted to buy guns over the one-year period -- and 160,000 were turned down by federal and state authorities.
  • About half of the rejections were in the 15 states that conduct their own checks, and the other half were in the 35 states that rely on FBI data.
  • While no statistics are available on what states have done in the way of prosecutions, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is currently investigating about 1,000 people -- of the 80,293 rejected by the FBI.
  • The agency has turned 380 cases over to federal prosecutors, 61 people have been indicted on federal charges, 50 have been arrested and 29 have been convicted on charges of falsifying their forms -- an offense which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

In 72 percent of the rejections, the reason was that the applicant had a criminal history of felonies of some kind. In 11 percent of the cases, the would-be purchaser had a conviction on domestic violence. Four percent had a history of drug abuse, 3 percent were under a domestic violence protective order and another 3 percent were fugitives from justice.

Source: Gary Fields, "Checks Yield 29 Federal Convictions," USA Today, December 1, 1999.


Browse more articles on Government Issues