In the wake of the 2015 mass murder at a church in Charleston, S.C., lawmakers have called for an end to the 72-hour background check rule.
Opponents argue that giving the FBI unlimited time to complete a NICS check could indefinitely suspend a citizen’s Second Amendment rights, and now a new lawsuit is shedding light on just how incompetent the feds can be.
Stamboulieh Law, PLLC, has filed a suit against the FBI on behalf of five individuals who were denied purchase of a firearm and given no way to appeal. According to the suit, the FBI stopped processing denial appeals in early 2016, and has since shifted the burden to gun purchasers to determine whether they are a prohibited person.
In one case, a man named Gary James LeComte was denied purchase of a firearm, and his appeal was also denied. Then, the FBI sent him another letter stating that they had resolved some prohibitory matters but were still concerned with two arrests from 1975.
Rather than looking into these arrests themselves, as required by law, they requested LeComte to provide documentation proving that neither of these arrests resulted in felony convictions.
As the suite points out, “The FBI has improperly shifted its burden to LeComte to prove he is not a prohibited person with records which may or may not exist contrary to the FBI’s burden of researching and finding these records on its own.”
Another plaintiff, Daniel A. Umbert, is a Florida-licensed attorney and is in good standing with the Florida State Bar. He was denied a suppressor purchase by the ATF and appealed the decision to the FBI. Because the feds are no longer processing appeals, his purchase still hasn’t gone through and he has no way of restoring his Second Amendment rights.
“For someone in his position as an active member of the Bar in good standing, an erroneous belief of the federal government that he is a prohibited person could cause significant issues in his life,” the suit notes.
The decision has also “chilled his constitutionally protected activity of owning or possessing firearms because he does not want to be falsely arrested and/or prosecuted for enjoying his rights secured by the Second Amendment.”
Stamboulieh Law says they have received correspondence from at least a hundred people with similar complaints.
Still, some federal officials believe the FBI can be trusted to complete background checks in a timely manner.
Democratic Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy introduced in October what they call the “No Check, No Sale” bill. The law would remove the option for gun dealers to release a firearm to a customer if the FBI has not been able to complete a background check within 72 hours.
“It’s pretty simple — if you can’t pass a background check, you shouldn’t be able to get a gun,” Murphy told the New Haven Register. “It’s a matter of political power, and Republicans are blocking every effort to change our gun laws.”
Murphy and Co. might meet less resistance if gun owners had any confidence in the FBI’s ability to complete background checks fairly and efficiently. As this most recent lawsuit proves, the fewer federal bureaucrats standing between law-abiding citizens and the Second Amendment, the better.