The clerk behind the gun store counter knows “that look” on a customer’s face. It’s not a happy one when the background check comes back with a denial of purchase.
“Oh, you can tell by looking at them, talking to them, they had absolutely no idea they’d be declined. When it’s a complete surprise to them,” said Chris Edwards, a longtime manager at Bass Pro Shops in Broken Arrow.
It’s not a common holiday surprise, but it can be an inconvenient one. Edwards said about 13 percent of the store’s purchasers experienced a sales delay during its busiest season.
Black Friday through opening day of deer season, and on through Christmas, firearms purchases hit their peak at area sporting goods stores.
A new concealed-carry pistol or deer rifle under the Christmas tree can be the best thing since Ralphie scored his Red Ryder in “A Christmas Story,” but consumers have to keep in mind one unique aspect of these holiday purchases — background check rules regarding legal possession.
Since passage of the Brady Handgun Violence and Prevention Act in 1994, a background check has been required prior to the purchase of firearms through licensed dealers. The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System is used to screen out purchases by convicted felons, immigration law violators, people dishonorably charged from the military or facing domestic violence proceedings, and others.
A record 27.5 million background checks were processed in the U.S. in 2016 and, of those, 120,479 were denied, according to the FBI’s 2016 NICS Operations Report.
The system is imperfect, as the country sadly learned after a mass shooting at a Texas church in November. An investigation showed that an airman’s discharge records and mental issues were not flagged.
For most local shoppers, the issues tend to be more like hiccups.