What Does a Gun Background Check Show?
As the debate over gun control continues to rage on, one of the most important tools in ensuring firearms don’t fall into the wrong hands is the background check. But what exactly does a gun background check reveal?
Whether you’re a gun owner or a potential buyer, you need to know the specifics of a federal gun background check and what information shows up on one. From criminal history to mental health records, we’ll explore the different types of checks and the implications they have on gun ownership in America.
How Do Federal Gun Background Checks Work?
When you buy a handgun from a licensed dealer, you must undergo a background check. This aims to ensure that the person buying the gun does not have any disqualifying factors such as a criminal record or history of mental illness.
The background check itself involves filling out an ATF Form 4473, which asks for personal information such as name, address, and social security number. The dealer then submits this information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which runs checks through various databases, including criminal records, mental health records, and other relevant sources.
Depending on your state laws, there may also be a waiting period before you can take possession of your firearm. However, certain exceptions exist, such as in cases where you’ve already undergone a background check within the past year or if you have a valid concealed carry permit.
Criminal History Check
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks for arrest records and conviction history in all 50 states to determine if you’re eligible to purchase or possess a firearm.
The criminal history check looks at any convictions against you. If you’ve been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors, it could automatically disqualify you from owning or purchasing firearms.
Domestic Violence Convictions and Restraining Orders
The presence of domestic violence on a person’s record can greatly impact their eligibility to purchase a gun. If you’ve been convicted of domestic violence or have a current restraining order against you, it’s highly unlikely that you will pass a gun background check. This is because federal law prohibits anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or subject to a restraining order from owning or possessing firearms. This restriction is in place for the safety of victims and to prevent further instances of violence.
Mental Health Records Check
When purchasing a firearm, it’s important to understand that your mental health history will be evaluated. This is because those with certain mental illnesses may be more prone to violence and pose a higher risk of harm to themselves and others.
Your mental health records may be shared during the background check process, which can include any previous diagnoses or treatment you’ve received for mental health issues.
It’s important, to be honest about your mental health history when completing the background check in order to ensure safety for yourself and others.
Other Factors Considered in the Check
Aside from criminal and mental health records, gun background checks also consider other factors in determining eligibility.
Here are some things that the check may look at:
- Immigration Status: Non-citizens who aren’t legally allowed to possess firearms in the United States won’t pass a background check.
- Substance Abuse: Those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse may be deemed unfit to own firearms due to concerns over their judgment and ability to handle weapons responsibly.
- Employment History and Character References: The background check may also look at your employment history and reach out to character references provided on your application to get an idea of your overall character and responsibility level.
The goal of the gun background check is to ensure that only responsible individuals who pose no threat are able to purchase firearms. By taking these additional factors into consideration, officials hope to prevent tragedies caused by irresponsible firearm ownership.
How to Handle Denied Gun Background Checks
If you’re wondering why your background check got denied, and you can’t buy a gun, one probable cause is having a criminal record. When you’ve been convicted of a crime, it shows up on your criminal history report, which is thoroughly checked during the screening process. Depending on how serious the offense is, it could lead to your application being rejected
If you were denied due to a criminal record, it may be possible to explore expungement options to clear your record and improve your chances of passing a background check.
Each state has its laws regarding expungement, so it’s important to research what is available in your area or consult an attorney with experience in expungements.
At Martine Law, we focus on expungement cases in Minnesota and are ready to assist you. Our experienced attorneys understand the intricacies of the expungement process and can guide you through the necessary steps.
Contact us today to work towards a clean slate.