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    Firearm Purchase Denials

    Firearm Purchase Denial: Understanding the Process and Your Rights

    The Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. §921-929, established regulations for the sale and delivery of firearms from federally licensed firearms dealers (FFLs) to unlicensed buyers. In Florida, the Firearm Purchase Program (FPP) was created by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) in 1991 to regulate these transfers, as authorized by Florida Statute §790.065. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 further mandated that all FFLs conduct a criminal background check on all unlicensed buyers before transferring a firearm. Unlike most states where the FBI handles these checks, Florida's FPP is responsible for this process.

    The Buying Process

    When you decide to purchase a firearm from an FFL, you must complete ATF Form 4473, which includes personal identifying information and a questionnaire about your eligibility to purchase a firearm. The FFL submits this form to the FPP, which conducts a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This check reviews criminal history and other databases for potential disqualifying information, such as injunctions, mental health commitments, and immigration issues. The background check results can be:

    • Approval: Your transfer is allowed.
    • Non-Approval: Your transfer is denied.
    • Delayed/Pending: Further research is required to determine your eligibility.

    Reasons for Delay or Denial

    A delay or denial can occur for several reasons:

    • Criminal History Records: Issues such as a formal arrest without a recorded disposition can cause delays.
    • Current Issues: Ongoing legal problems, like an indictment or injunction, can affect your eligibility.
    • Data Errors: Incorrect or incomplete information, mistaken identity, or clerical errors in the criminal history records can also result in delays or denials.

    What to Do If Delayed

    If your application is delayed, the FFL will receive a “queue” number from the FPP. If the delay is due to a criminal history issue, you can either wait for the FPP to complete their research or expedite the process by obtaining necessary records yourself. For instance, if there's an old criminal charge, you can contact the clerk of court in the county where you were charged to get a certified copy of the case's final disposition and email it to the Firearms Eligibility Bureau Eligibility Research Unit at FPP@fdle.state.fl.us.

    If the delay is due to more current issues, the FPP will issue a conditional non-approval number. Florida Statute §790.065 requires FDLE to make a determination within 24 working hours (which effectively means 72 hours). If the FPP cannot confirm your eligibility, they will issue a conditional approval number, which can later be revoked if you are found ineligible.

    What to Do If Denied

    If your purchase is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. Here’s how:

    • Obtain the NTN number from the licensed dealer, which is necessary to determine the reason for the denial.
    • Submit an appeal form within 60 days of the non-approval. You will need to provide new fingerprints completed by a law enforcement agency.
    • If the appeal is successful, you can apply for a FBI Voluntary Appeal File and a Unique Personal Identification Number (UPIN) to prevent future denials.

    Why Am I Being Denied After Previous Approvals?

    This is a common scenario, especially with older convictions. The federal government has been digitizing old records, which can now be more easily accessed and result in denials. Often, these records are incorrect or incomplete, requiring you to provide accurate information.

    Get Expert Assistance

    If you have attempted to purchase a firearm and have been denied, it’s essential to understand your rights and options. Our firm, along with Florida Carry, has filed a civil lawsuit against FDLE for not adhering to the statutory timeframes, which you may be able to join as an aggrieved party. We can assist you with the appeals process and ensure your rights are protected.

    Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you overcome a firearm purchase denial and secure your rights.

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