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On 9 occasions this week the National Instant Criminal Background Check System reported outages that delayed checks for customers at licensed gun dealers.
Ordinarily, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has a 99 percent rate of success for processing checks, however when NICS was upgraded on Sept. 6, a few of the changes misfired and techs are already busy working the bugs out.
“Staff have continuously been on-hand to evaluate the situation troubleshoot issues as they arise,” said Jill Montgomery, supervisory NICS liaison specialist with the FBI, in an email to Guns.com.
Last weekend, the FBI implemented the Next Generation Identification system — a $1.2 billion biometric system that recognizes facial features, scans irises, and reads palm and fingerprints to distinguish individuals — to replace the sole fingerprint system. The change has impacted a database inside the NGI known as the Interstate Identification Index.
“When the system is taken out of service, it impacts both the telephone call received (NICS Contracted Call Centers) and Internet checks conducted (NICS E-Check),” Montgomery said.
All week the NICS Section continues to email FFLs about outages and updating them when issues are resolved.
From its perspective, the outages are not specific to a geographical area or state, said Larry Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the NSSF.
“We are hopeful that the remaining bugs and glitches will be resolved very quickly so that consumers will not be further inconvenienced and retailers do not lose any more sales,” he said.
However, Keane raised concerns regarding the timing of the upgrades. “We will be inquiring of the FBI why they chose to do these upgrades now during the beginning of the hunting season and not over the summer months when sales are slower,” he said.
Montgomery advised FFLs and other concerned parties to sign up on the NICS Section’s FFL email group.