34 U.S. Code § 40901 - Establishment
Not later than 60 months after November 30, 1993, the Attorney General shall establish a national instant criminal background check system that any licensee may contact, by telephone or by other electronic means in addition to the telephone, for information, to be supplied immediately, on whether receipt of a firearm by a prospective transferee would violate section 922 of title 18 or State law.
Notwithstanding any other law, the Attorney General may secure directly from any department or agency of the United States such information on persons for whom receipt of a firearm would violate subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 of title 18 or State law, as is necessary to enable the system to operate in accordance with this section.
On request of the Attorney General, the head of such department or agency shall furnish electronic versions of the information described under subparagraph (A) to the system.
If a Federal department or agency under subparagraph (A) has any record of any person demonstrating that the person falls within one of the categories described in subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 of title 18, the head of such department or agency shall, not less frequently than quarterly, provide the pertinent information contained in such record to the Attorney General.
The Attorney General shall submit an annual report to Congress that describes the compliance of each department or agency with the provisions of this paragraph.
The Attorney General shall develop such computer software, design and obtain such telecommunications and computer hardware, and employ such personnel, as are necessary to establish and operate the system in accordance with this section.
If the national instant criminal background check system determines that an individual is ineligible to receive a firearm and the individual requests the system to provide the reasons for the determination, the system shall provide such reasons to the individual, in writing, within 5 business days after the date of the request.
If the system established under this section informs an individual contacting the system that receipt of a firearm by a prospective transferee would violate subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 of title 18 or State law, the prospective transferee may request the Attorney General to provide the prospective transferee with the reasons therefor. Upon receipt of such a request, the Attorney General shall immediately comply with the request. The prospective transferee may submit to the Attorney General information to correct, clarify, or supplement records of the system with respect to the prospective transferee. After receipt of such information, the Attorney General shall immediately consider the information, investigate the matter further, and correct all erroneous Federal records relating to the prospective transferee and give notice of the error to any Federal department or agency or any State that was the source of such erroneous records.
After 90 days’ notice to the public and an opportunity for hearing by interested parties, the Attorney General shall prescribe regulations to ensure the privacy and security of the information of the system established under this section.
There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to enable the Attorney General to carry out this section.
Section was enacted as part of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, and not as part of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 which comprises this chapter.
Section was formerly classified as a note under section 922 of Title 18, Crimes and Criminal Procedure, prior to editorial reclassification and renumbering as this section.
2008—Subsec. (e)(1). Pub. L. 110–180 designated first and second sentences as subpars. (A) and (B), respectively, inserted subpar. headings, substituted “furnish electronic versions of the information described under subparagraph (A)” for “furnish such information” in subpar. (B), and added subpar. (C).
Subsec. (i)(2). Pub. L. 104–294, § 603(h), made technical amendment to reference in original act which appears in text as reference to section 922(g) or (n) of title 18.
1994—Subsec. (k). Pub. L. 103–322, § 210603(b), as amended by Pub. L. 104–294, § 603(i)(1), struck out “, which may be appropriated from the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund established by section 1115 of title 31” after “authorized to be appropriated”.
Amendment by section 603(i)(1) of Pub. L. 104–294 effective as if the amendment had been included in section 210603(b) of Pub. L. 103–322 on Sept. 13, 1994, see section 603(i)(2) of Pub. L. 104–294, set out as a note under section 40302 of this title.
Similar provisions were contained in the following prior appropriation acts:
Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies
Reducing violent crime, and gun-related crime in particular, is a top priority of my Administration. A key component of this effort is ensuring that law enforcement agencies at all levels—Federal, State, and local—utilize those tools that have proven most effective. One such tool is firearms tracing, which significantly assists law enforcement in reconstructing the transfer and movement of seized or recovered firearms. Responsibility for conducting firearms tracing rests with the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Over the years, firearms tracing has significantly assisted law enforcement in solving violent crimes and generating thousands of leads that may otherwise not have been available.
Firearms tracing provides two principal benefits. First, tracing is an important investigative tool in individual cases, providing law enforcement agents with critical information that may lead to the apprehension of suspects, the recovery of other guns used in the commission of crimes, and the identification of potential witnesses, among other things. Second, analysis of tracing data in the aggregate provides valuable intelligence about local, regional, and national patterns relating to the movement and sources of guns used in the commission of crimes, which is useful for the effective deployment of law enforcement resources and development of enforcement strategies. Firearms tracing is a particularly valuable tool in detecting and investigating firearms trafficking, and has been deployed to help combat the pernicious problem of firearms trafficking across the Southwest border.
The effectiveness of firearms tracing as a law enforcement intelligence tool depends on the quantity and quality of information and trace requests submitted to ATF. In fiscal year 2012, ATF processed approximately 345,000 crime-gun trace requests for thousands of domestic and international law enforcement agencies. The Federal Government can encourage State and local law enforcement agencies to take advantage of the benefits of tracing all recovered firearms, but Federal law enforcement agencies should have an obligation to do so. If Federal law enforcement agencies do not conscientiously trace every firearm taken into custody, they may not only be depriving themselves of critical information in specific cases, but may also be depriving all Federal, State, and local agencies of the value of complete information for aggregate analyses.
Maximizing the effectiveness of firearms tracing, and the corresponding impact on combating violent crimes involving firearms, requires that Federal law enforcement agencies trace all recovered firearms taken into Federal custody in a timely and efficient manner.
Therefore, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:
Section 1. Firearms Tracing. (a) Federal law enforcement agencies shall ensure that all firearms recovered after the date of this memorandum in the course of criminal investigations and taken into Federal custody are traced through ATF at the earliest time practicable. Federal law enforcement agencies, as well as other executive departments and agencies, are encouraged, to the extent practicable, to take steps to ensure that firearms recovered prior to the date of this memorandum in the course of criminal investigations and taken into Federal custody are traced through ATF.
(b) Within 30 days of the date of this memorandum, ATF will issue guidance to Federal law enforcement agencies on submitting firearms trace requests.
(c) Within 60 days of the date of this memorandum, Federal law enforcement agencies shall ensure that their operational protocols reflect the requirement to trace recovered firearms through ATF.
(d) Within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, each Federal law enforcement agency shall submit a report to the Attorney General affirming that its operational protocols reflect the requirements set forth in this memorandum.
(e) For purposes of this memorandum, “Federal law enforcement agencies” means the Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, Justice, the Interior, Agriculture, Energy, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security, and such other agencies and offices that regularly recover firearms in the course of their criminal investigations as the President may designate.
Sec. 2. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect the authority granted by law to a department or agency, or the head thereof.
(b) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Sec. 3. Publication. The Attorney General is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense[,] the Attorney General[, and] the Secretary of Homeland Security
For more than 20 years, the Federal Government has worked to keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks. This critical effort in addressing gun violence has prevented more than two million prohibited firearms purchases from being completed. But tens of thousands of people are still injured or killed by firearms every year—in many cases by guns that were sold legally but then stolen, misused, or discharged accidentally. Developing and promoting technology that would help prevent these tragedies is an urgent priority.
In 2013, I directed the Department of Justice to review the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies, such as devices requiring a scan of the owner’s fingerprint before a gun can fire. In its report, the Department made clear that technological advancements in this area could help reduce accidental deaths and the use of stolen guns in criminal activities.
Millions of dollars have already been invested to support research into a broad range of concepts for improving gun safety. We must all do our part to continue to advance this research and encourage its practical application, and it is possible to do so in a way that makes the public safer and is consistent with the Second Amendment. The Federal Government has a unique opportunity to do so, as it is the single largest purchaser of firearms in the country. Therefore, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:
Section 1. Research and Development. The Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security (departments) shall, to the extent practicable and permitted by law, conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology that would reduce the frequency of accidental discharge or unauthorized use of firearms, and improve the tracing of lost or stolen guns. Not later than 90 days after the date of this memorandum, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall prepare jointly a report outlining a research and development strategy designed to expedite the real-world deployment of such technology for use in practice.
Sec. 2. Department Consideration of New Technology. The departments shall, to the extent permitted by law, regularly (a) review the availability of the technology described in section 1, and (b) explore potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety. In connection with these efforts, the departments shall consult with other agencies that acquire firearms and take appropriate steps to consider whether including such technology in specifications for acquisition of firearms would be consistent with operational needs.
Sec. 3. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to a department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Sec. 4. Publication. The Attorney General is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
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