Appeals Process Formalized For Certain National Firearms Act Applicants

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posted on February 4, 2024
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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) implemented an updated, formalized appeals process for certain National Firearms Act (NFA) applicants this month.

The agreement between BATFE and the FBI, which was signed in October, allows individuals to use administrative appeals processes of FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to attempt to resolve record-related issues that are revealed during a NICS background check initiated as part of that individual’s NFA application. In addition, the agreement recognizes an NFA applicant may use the Voluntary Appeal File (VAF) when NICS responds with a “delayed” recommendation to the NFA applicant’s background check.

A “delayed” or “denied” NFA applicant will receive a letter from ATF’s NFA Division advising how to take advantage of each respective process and the associated NICS Transaction Number (NTN) for “denied” NFA applications. As part of this process applicants may be requested to submit an additional set of fingerprints.

An NFA applicant who has been denied may now use the FBI NICS administrative appeals process, known as the “Firearm Related Challenge,” when (1) the NFA Division has disapproved the applicant’s NFA application, and (2) FBI NICS responded to the NFA division with a “denied” recommendation to the NFA applicant’s NICS background check.

If the applicant believes the “denied” response from FBI NICS was made in error, they may submit a Firearm Related Challenge, which will require them to provide their NTN. The processes implemented by the NICS when performing Firearm Related Challenges for disapproved NFA applicants will be the same as those performed when reviewing Firearm Related Challenges pertaining to prospective firearm transfers that were denied by the FBI or a Point-of-Contact jurisdiction. If the FBI NICS did not respond with a “denied” recommendation to the NFA applicant’s NICS background check, that individual cannot utilize the FBI NICS Firearm Related Challenge process.

If an NFA application is delayed, the applicant may use the VAF process after ATF notifies the applicant that their FBI NICS background check remains in a “Delayed/Open” status.

The VAF and the administrative appeals process (Firearm Related Challenge) are not appeals of an NFA application and shall not be construed as to allowing a person to challenge a disapproved NFA application.

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