Federal approval, background checks causing delays for gun buyers

Over 16 million background checks have been done so far this year, with the FBI setting a new record each month

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Second Amendment is always a big issue around election time and this year, gun sales are brisk. However, a delay in the purchasing process has been occurring for about a week.

Gun stores have noticed the delay after filling out the federal forms and calling in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

“We had customers in here waiting an hour to three hours. Some of them, we said, ‘Hey, we’ll call you when we hear. There’s nothing we can do,'” said Lee Sredniawa, manager at Fin Feather Fur Outfitters.

The FBI updated a computer system that runs the background check. Gun buyers have to fill out a form, then the seller can either call it in or file it online.

Last year, the call centers handled calls in an average of two minutes and ten seconds. The FBI says the wait is only a minute and 47 seconds online, but most places say getting on the phone with the FBI for approval is the fastest.

“Once you come in, you pay for the firearm, you fill out your federal form, we call it in. Regardless of what their answer is, that deal stands until we hear back from them,” said Mike Miller from Miller Rod & Gun in Youngstown.

The FBI’s answer determines whether the gun sale will proceed, be delayed or be denied. The FBI wants to give the correct answer to ensure that only legitimate gun buyers get firearms.

“From a customer standpoint, they’ve bought numerous guns from us, they get frustrated,” Sredniawa said. “We know that they’re probably good to go, but you just have to honor what [the FBI is] asking you to do and just delay and wait.”

The system has gone down before and Miller says it can take two to three days before it’s back up and running. Meanwhile, the gun applications pile up.

He says it’s just a matter of being patient.

“As far as I’m concerned, the system is adequate, it’s just undermanned. I think there could be a better system.”

Over 16 million background checks have been done so far this year, with the FBI setting a new record each month.

WYTV contacted the Cleveland FBI office and the NICS unit home in West Virginia for input on the delays, but the agency has provided no information.

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