ATF, NICS Struggle To Keep Up With Surge In Gun Sales

Gun stores are having a difficult time keeping firearms and ammunition in stock as a surge of new gun owners continues to pour into those stores that remain open, so it shouldn’t come as a shock to learn that the FBI and ATF are also struggling to keep up with the incredible demand we’ve seen over the past two weeks.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, some gun retailers are reporting a “large and growing number of backlogs” for background checks that come back as “delayed.” According to federal law, those checks can be delayed for up to three business days, but the NSSF is hearing from retailers who are reporting that NICS employees are telling them it could be April 15th.

In an email to members, the NSSF pointed out that the lengthy delays “appear to run counter to the Brady Act and NICS regulations, particularly in states without government office closures,” and the organization has reached out to NICS to find out why these delays are stretching out for weeks.

Even for those who are approved through the NICS system or state background check systems, it may not be an instantaneous process. One gun store employee in Virginia I spoke with today told me he’s telling customers it’ll be 4-8 hours before they’re likely to hear back. The NSSF also says many firearms retailers are now running out of the federal Form 4473 required for every gun sale.

ATF has informed us that it is currently limiting orders of ATF Form 4473s to 1,500 per request.  ATF has already ordered additional forms and expects to receive them early next week.  Also, ATF notes that as it replenishes its supply, it will reevaluate limiting orders.

If a firearm retailer does print photocopies of the Form 4473 to use during this time, it is important to print all six pages to remain compliant (this includes the instructions pages). In the past, retailers have been cited for not printing and filing all pages of Form 4473.

NSSF continues to work with ATF on guidance for retailers as to whether you are permitted to conduct curb-side or sidewalk transactions during the national emergency. ATF lawyers are working on this issue and we should have more information on that front soon as well. We encourage FFLs to contact your local ATF Field Office to seek guidance in the meantime.

We know at least one gun store in Nevada is already offering curb-side pickup for some customers. I honestly never considered the possibility that curb-side or outdoors transactions may violate some ATF regulation, but I’m not surprised.

On today’s program we also get to several of your emails, questions, and comments about how the coronavirus pandemic and shelter-in-place orders are playing out around the country. Be sure to check out the entire show above, and don’t forget to subscribe to Townhall Media on YouTube or Bearing Arms Cam & Co on Apple Podcasts in order to keep up with the latest Second Amendment news and information, as well as interviews with those on the front lines of protecting and defending our right to keep and bear arms. As always, thanks for watching, listening, and spreading the word!

Jun 25, 2022 12:30 PM ET