How Long Does A Background Check Take For A Gun (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Up To 30 Days 

A background check is a process that checks an individual’s criminal, employment, and personal history. It can also include checking their mental health record.

One should only purchase a gun after the buyer passes a thorough background check with licensed dealers authorized to sell firearms in one’s area. 

This ensures that one doesn’t buy a gun from someone who has been convicted of felonies or other crimes and makes sure nobody else can get access to the personal information if they were previously prohibited from owning one because of their past behavior.

How Long Does A Background Check Take For A Gun

How Long Does A Background Check Take For A Gun?

Gun background checkUp to 30 days
Criminal record lasts for15 years or an indefinite period

To conduct a background check depends on a few different factors, including how quickly the gun dealer can get the results back from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). 

Generally speaking, the process of conducting a background check should take up to 30 business days. However, any delays in getting information from NICS or other law enforcement agencies could push the process out beyond that time frame.

Hence, it depends on the type of background check that is conducted.

A National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is an organization that the FBI conducts for firearms purchases from licensed dealers. It will sometimes take only about 30 seconds to complete.

However, some states have their systems and may take longer; for example, in Connecticut, it can take up to 10 days to respond to the state’s system.

A background check for guns works by first checking if the person wants to buy a gun. If they do not, it goes on their record and is flagged as something that could come up during future purchases. 

Next, through records in the NICS, licensed dealerships will run a NICS check when they sell or transfer a firearm to this individual – this includes private sales between individuals who have not licensed dealers under federal law. 

These transactions are subject to criminal background checks just like any other sale or trade involving firearms (federal law requires all retailers engaged in business with individuals to conduct such checks). The idea behind the system is that there should be no “gun-show loophole.”

Why Would A Background Check For A Gun Take So Long?

NICS is a system used to determine whether a potential purchaser of a firearm is prohibited from owning one under federal or state law. 

The FBI operates the system, and it relies on historical crime records from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which is a repository of information about criminal case proceedings at the state and local levels.

The process of conducting a background check for a gun can be time-consuming because it involves retrieving information from multiple sources and verifying its accuracy. 

In addition, due to the volume of requests that NICS receives each day, one cannot process all background checks immediately. As a result, a background check may take several days or even weeks to complete.

Many things would disqualify someone from purchasing a gun, but the most common reasons are here. 

  1. If one has been convicted of domestic violence or terrorism 
  2. If one has been diagnosed with mental illness 
  3. If one is an illegal drug user (past or present)  
  4. In the last 10 years, two or more alcohol-related offenses convictions, including DUI and public intoxication. 
  5. Alcohol abuse can also cause problems when buying a gun because it has been shown to lower inhibitions and increase risk-taking behavior, leading to an accident involving alcohol and weapons possession.

The idea was that people who were mentally unstable or had a record of violent crime should not be able to buy any rifle or shotgun because they could easily go out and hurt someone with one (especially if it’s registered).


The history of gun background checks starts with the Gun Control Act of 1968. This act established a registry for certain rifles and shotguns, including machine guns. 

To get on this registry, one had to submit an application that included information about their criminal background. 

Later, it required NICS operators to ask for anyone buying a firearm identification.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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