If you’re in the new market for a rifle or handgun, you may know about the background check you’ll need to submit to complete the transaction. U.S. legislature put background checks in effect to limit access to firearms to individuals with a criminal record.
Whether you’re purchasing from a private seller through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) or a gun shop, you’ll need to fill out a background check to complete the transaction.
Before you complete the process, you may wonder, “how long does a gun background check take?” Keep reading to learn more.
How Long Does a Handgun Background Check Take?: The Process
The first notable firearm regulation was the National Firearms Act of 1934, which placed tax and registration requirements on specific firearm types. Lawmakers created this act in an effort to limit gang violence.
In 1993 the U.S. established the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. This act requires namechecks of all firearm purchases from Federal Firearms Licensees. FFLs use the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to see if a potential buyer has a criminal background or other history that would make them unsafe to purchase a gun.
When you meet with the FFL, you will complete Section B of an ATF Form 4473. This form contains questions about:
- Criminal record
- Mental health
- History with the Armed Forces
After you complete this part of the form, the seller and FFL will complete the rest.
How Long Does a Gun Background Check Take?: Waiting Periods
Once you’ve completed everything on your end, how long does a gun background check take? If you don’t run into any hiccups, the assessment can run in minutes. However, if the NICS doesn’t respond within three days of the background check, the FFL can choose to complete the transaction unless prohibited by state law or hold the firearm.
If the background check doesn’t go through immediately, the request most likely ended up with one of these two results:
- Delayed status: The NCIS team needs to do further research to verify your background.
- Denied status: Your information matches a profile that has a state or federal firearm prohibition. If the NICS denied your request, there are a few steps you can take to appeal your status.
Are There Other Waiting Periods for Purchasing Firearms?
In most states, there aren’t any waiting periods for purchasing a firearm. Six states place waiting periods on the purchase of all guns. Five other states delay transactions for specific types of firearms. These periods can last from three to 14 days. Make sure to research the state’s purchase laws to be prepared for delays in your transaction. Here is a guide to state gun laws.
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