FBI Overwhelmed, Temporarily Halts NICS Appeals

photo from fixnics.org

After December 2015 clocked in as another record month for firearms sales, with 3.3 million NICS checks performed, the FBI is so overwhelmed it has been forced to temporarily halt the processing of thousands of appeals from would-be gun buyers whose background checks bounced back negative, according to this story from USA Today.

The story says the FBI’s entire staff of appeal examiners includes only about 70 analysts, who were redeployed to deal with background checks instead. The transfer has left a backlog of 7,100 appeals.

"The last several months, we've kind of found ourselves in a perfect storm,'' Morris said in an interview with USA Today. In each of the last six months, the number of background checks has risen steadily, breaking records with every new moon.

This makeshift reorganization of bureau personnel has also included cancelling annual leave for more than 400 employees who work for NICS. Temporary background-check examiners are being pulled from internal construction projects and bureau divisions that oversee the gathering of crime stats throughout the country, the story says.

With these kind of numbers and thin resources, President Obama’s announced executive action including the addition of 230 NICS examiners seems a little conservative. If the other portions of Obama’s executive action are enacted, there will be even more background checks flooding the FBI, because many private dealers who did not perform them before would now have to under the new rules.

The story says the NRA noted they would "have no objection" to proposals that would bolster the ranks of the ATF and the NICS system, while they remain opposed to Obama's call for private gun sellers to obtain FFLs and be forced to perform background checks.

Not only that, but the system NICS uses to maintain the necessary databases of criminal and mental health records used to perform the background checks is hardly streamlined, the story says.

From the story: "We live off those records,'' said FBI Assistant Director Stephen Morris. "That is our bread and butter. ...The misnomer is that FBI has everything that exists on criminal history records in some big repository, and that's simply not true. A lot of data sits out in state and local systems. Being able to reach out and get that information can be very, very challenging.''

Morris said it is impossible to estimate how many records could be missing from the system. "You don't know what you don't know, right?’’