May 13, 1998
ATTN: Notice No. 857, PL 103-159
Chief, Regulations Division
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
650 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20226
This letter is written regarding the above referenced matter, the
implementation of the National Instant Criminal Background Check
System (NCIS). Generally it is my conclusion from reviewing the
proposed regulations that they will add a burden and restrictions on
citizens, their cultural heritage and a legitimate industry, far more
than you estimate or are willing to admit. My specific observations
are detailed below.
Regarding the return of a firearm to its lawful owner, for example
from collateral for a loan (pawn) or from service by a gun smith, a
NCIS check would be required. This is objectionable because it; 1]
requires reproving a citizen is not a criminal to possess his
lawfully owned property (criminals will not seek repair, just steal
another firearm); 2] adds additional fees unnecessarily to the cost
of ownership and the loan (is this factored into state and federal
truth in lending regulations?); and 3] adds more firearms to the
registration lists maintained at dealers (and potentially in agency
The proposed regulations open the way for the collection of
"optional" information such as Social Security Number (SSN).
Solicitation of this information may violate the regulations of the
Social Security Administration which state that the SSN is "for
Social Security and tax purposes - not for identification". This
data would, in addition to further identifying a purchaser, foster
the use of registration databases and allow cross checking by
agencies and individuals who have access to this information, either
legitimately or illegally. If the goal of the NCIS check is to clear
those permitted, then the least intrusive data should be presented
first (name, address, D.O.B.) while a realtime match count or status
is returned. Only if an initial match (restriction) is made, then
additional data would submitted only till any matching prohibiting
records are cleared.
The possibility of a registration database always exists. This
potential violation of the law can be circumvented by establishing a
Point Of Sale (POS) check procedure where the coded lists of
prohibited individuals would be supplied to individual dealers, or a
dealer pool in a region. The check and clearance would be made at
the local level and only a response control number would be issued.
Privacy would be maintained by coding the list.
There are potential conflicts in the proposed regulations. For
example the 30 day time limit on "stale" NCIS check information may
now or eventually may conflict with local waiting periods and the
realities of time necessary to complete a transaction.
With the implementation of a uniform check system, there is no reason
that an individual should be prohibited from making a purchase
outside of his area of residence. Local laws will still have to be
followed for possession, but those submitting to the check system and
be approved will, by definition be law abiding, aware of local laws
and remain in compliance with them.
The procedure of denial and appeal is not clear and should be made so
at this time, not determined at some time in the future. The
material I have available indicates that if the NCIS system can not
clear a request in 3 days, and the reviewer does not receive
additional information and believes "that receipt of the
firearm...would violate federal or state law" then the transfer may
NOT proceed. The purchaser may then file a written request for the
reason and make an appeal. Will the request and appeal carry a fee?
The reason for denial should automatically be sent to the applicant
and the appeal process started automatically with the NCIS operator
specifically stating what data is in question and what information is
necessary to remedy the error.
I expect these proposed regulations will create an impact on the
individuals and business effected far in excess of that estimated in
the proposed regulation notice. The monetary, paperwork and time
cost to the parties are already large and will become incrementally
larger with this and the eventual future extension of regulations.
I respectfully request public hearings on this matter and that I be
allowed to present oral and written testimony at such hearings.
Robert D. Culver