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Assessment and Resolution of Replicated Firearm Eligibility Checks

NCJ Number
Michael F. Cahn; James M. Tien Ph.D.; David M Einstein
Date Published
May 2004
18 pages
This report describes a research study carried out by Structured Decisions Corporation in cooperation with the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) Section of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division to determine the nature and scope of firearm eligibility checks submitted by the point of contact (POC) States in NICS which replicate previously submitted transactions and to formulate recommendations to reduce, if not eliminate, their incidence.
Highlights of findings and recommendations include: (1) virtually all of the point of contact (POC) States replicate at least some of the firearm eligibility checks they submit to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) which can be categorized as input, followup, or systemic in nature; (2) based on NICS and State volume statistics for 2001 and 2002, on average the State POCs submit 1.35 checks to NICS for every firearm transfer application they process resulting in the number of POC State firearm eligibility checks reported by NICS being overstated by some 35 percent; (3) NICS and the State POCs could reduce the incidence of replications by implementing a number of technical and operational changes; and (4) further research should be undertaken to ascertain the impact of the replications on State POC workloads and to assess their effectiveness in increasing denial rates. Based on previous observations of the replication phenomenon in relation to firearm eligibility checks, and the fact that most, if not all, of the POC States submit at least some replicated checks to NICS, the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) agreed to extend Structured Decisions Corporation’s (SDC’s) firearm research study by funding a collaborative effort between SDC and NICS to assess and resolve the replications issue. The study’s objectives are to (a) improve the overall efficiency and accuracy of firearm eligibility checks, (b) reduce or eliminate the incidence of replicated POC checks, thereby facilitating an accurate NICS count and (c) to the extent the problem exists in the non-POC States, reduce or eliminate replications, possibly facilitating the reporting of a true (i.e., higher) denial rate. Tables