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Alert Local Law Enforcement of Failed Background Checks

Alert Local Law Enforcement of Failed Background Checks

What is the problem?

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) stops thousands of convicted felons, domestic abusers, and other prohibited people from buying guns each year. Potential purchasers often fail NICS background checks and walk away with no consequences, free to try to arm themselves in other ways.

NICS denial laws, also known as “active alerts,” require state law enforcement or firearm dealers to notify local law enforcement when a person prohibited by law from purchasing firearms tries to buy a gun and fails the background check. This enables law enforcement to stop them before they obtain guns illegally.

Which states alert local officials when a person fails a background check?

12 states have adopted this policy

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Alabama has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Alaska has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Arizona has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Arkansas has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

California has adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Colorado has adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Connecticut has adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Delaware has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Florida has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Georgia has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Hawaii has adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Idaho has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Illinois has adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Indiana has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Iowa has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Kansas has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Kentucky has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Louisiana has adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Maine has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Maryland has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Massachusetts has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Michigan has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Minnesota has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Mississippi has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Missouri has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Montana has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Nebraska has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Nevada has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

New Hampshire has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

New Jersey has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

New Mexico has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

New York has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

North Carolina has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

North Dakota has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Ohio has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Oklahoma has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Oregon has adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Pennsylvania has adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Rhode Island has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

South Carolina has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

South Dakota has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Tennessee has adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Texas has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Utah has adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Vermont has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Virginia has adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Washington has adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

West Virginia has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Wisconsin has not adopted this policy

Notification of Failed Background Checks

Wyoming has not adopted this policy

How it Works

Alerting law enforcement when a person fails a background check helps prevent that person from obtaining a gun through other illegal means.

It is unlawful for a person who is prohibited from buying a gun to attempt to purchase one. NICS stops thousands of people prohibited from having firearms from buying them every year. But these “lie-and-try” offenses are rarely prosecuted, and local law enforcement often doesn’t know when a prohibited, and potentially dangerous, person tries to buy a gun.

Several states have addressed this loophole in their law, requiring law enforcement to be notified when a person fails a NICS check. Alerting local law enforcement enables police to stop people from obtaining guns illegally through unlicensed sales or other means. States that have these reporting requirements have seen success. For example, Pennsylvania’s active alerts program has resulted in nearly 5,000 reported convictions of people attempting to illegally purchase guns.

By the numbers

Myth & Fact

Myth

States have no role in enforcing the federal background check requirement to purchase a firearm.

Fact

States can and do enforce federal background check requirements. In fact, even in states that do not require law enforcement notification of failed checks, prosecutors sometimes charge people with violating state laws prohibiting lying on government forms when they find out that a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law attempted to purchase one from a licensed dealer.