Voluntary Appeal File

WHAT WE DOWe protect your gun rights!

The National Instant Criminal Information System (NICS) is the background check system that firearms dealers are required to use when they sell a firearm to someone. When you go to purchase a gun, you are required to first complete ATF Form 4473. Next, the firearms dealer contacts NICS either electronically or by phone to run a background check on the buyer. This background check is intended to ensure that the person attempting to purchase the gun is not prohibited by law from owning or possessing a gun.

Usually, running a NICS check takes about thirty-seconds. The firearms dealer will receive one of three responses from NICS:

  1. Proceed – This indicates that the person purchasing the firearm is not prohibited by law from owning or possessing a firearm, and the sale may proceed.
  2. Delay – This indicates that the transaction may not proceed until NICS has followed up with the firearms dealer. Delayed transactions indicated that NICS needs additional time to process the background check. NICS has three business days to follow up with the firearms dealer, and if they cannot decide within that time frame, the firearms dealer may proceed with the transaction (unless prohibited by state law.)
  3. Denied – This indicates that the transaction may not proceed because the person who is attempting to purchase the firearm may have a state or federal prohibition.

If a person received a Denied status when attempting to purchase a gun, then they should ask the firearms dealer to provide them with a NICS Transaction Number (NTN) so that they can follow up on why NICS denied the transaction.

There are many reasons why someone may be denied by NICS, but the most common reasons are:

  1. You were convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors.
  2. You are a fugitive from justice or have outstanding warrants for your arrest.
  3. You are an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.
  4. You have been found mentally ill or dangerous by a Court or have been committed to a mental institution.
  5. You are an illegal alien.
  6. You were discharged from the military under dishonorable conditions.
  7. You renounced your United States citizenship.
  8. You are subject to a restraining order.
  9. You have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

Fortunately, it is quite easy to appeal a NICS denial. First, you have to request the reason for the denial from NICS. Once you have the reason for the denial, then you must fix the underlying problem that caused you to get denied, for example, a restoration of gun rights after a felony conviction. Frequently, people get denied due because NICS made a mistake. This can happen when the relevant records are incorrect or incomplete. If you were wrongly denied a NICS check, we can help you to appeal and correct the problem.

Sometimes, a person may be denied a gun purchase multiple times, or experience frequent delays when buying a gun. In these types of cases, it is necessary to apply for a Voluntary Appeal File (VAF). This option is available to people who believe that they are legally allowed to own guns, but have been denied a gun purchase more than once, or frequently experience delays in their transactions. When you apply for a VAF, NICS will research your case and assign you a Unique Personal Identification Number (UPIN). This UPIN can be provided to the firearms dealer when you want to buy a gun, and, although you will still have to undergo a background check, the UPIN will help to confirm your identity and prevent any future problems. The VAF/UPIN process can take several months. It is important that you have someone experienced to help you get your application right the first time so that you do not experience any further delays. If you have been denied a gun purchase multiple times, or you experience frequent delays when trying to purchase a gun, you should contact our office so that we can help you to correct the problem.

The Law Offices of
Ronald J. Shook

121 E. Main Ave, Gastonia NC 28052

Rated by Super Lawyers 2022
     10.0Ronald James Shook II


Attorney Ronald J. Shook provides clients at our firm with the highest quality representation through hard work, determination, and by always doing the right thing.

Our mission is to take the weight off of our clients’ shoulders, and handle their concerns so that they can get on with their lives.


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