Exclusive: How the FBI’s Bureaucratic Incompetence is Denying Citizens Their 2A Rights

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray speaks at a cybersecurity conference (Photo: FBI Facebook)

Last month we reported that five individuals had undertaken a suit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the grounds that the agency erroneously denied their background check requests and refused to process their appeals. This week three additional individuals added their names to the suit after receiving letters from the Feds claiming that no appeals process exists to contest denied background checks involving NFA items.

“It’s not a lawful position. I don’t know what else to say. It’s just not lawful,” Stephen D. Stamboulieh, the attorney for the plaintiffs, told GunsAmerica. “The FBI is denying my appeal remedy, which is in and of itself a violation of my due process rights. You’re telling me I’m on a list, and you’re giving me no way to get off that list.”

Stamboulieh says he’s been contacted by over 100 individuals who have been waiting years for the FBI to process their background check appeals for Title I firearms (pistols, long guns, etc.). But some of these individuals, like plaintiff Kevin Franscisco Borquez, tried to purchase NFA Class III items (suppressors, short-barreled rifles, etc), and received a letter from the Feds stating that they have no way to appeal their erroneous background check.

Borquez was convicted of a felony in California more than a decade ago. In 2010 he requested that his felony charge be reduced to a misdemeanor, and he received a letter from the state reinstating his Second Amendment rights.

But when he moved to Wyoming and tried to purchase NFA Class III items, the FBI denied his background check request. Borquez attempted to appeal these denials but was advised by the FBI that NICS “does not process appeal requests for the NFA background checks.”

The letter Mr. Borquez received from the FBI (Photo: Stamboulieh Law, PLLC)

The problem is that, according to Stamboulieh and contrary to what the FBI implies, there isn’t a separate background check process for Title I and Class III items. The ATF approves the transfer of NFA items, but they use the FBI NICS database to do background on prospective owners. Stamboulieh knows this because even NFA items receive a NICS Transaction Number (NTN).

“It’s exactly the same thing,” Stamboulieh pointed out, referring to the background check process for Title I and Class III items. “Why are you giving me an NTN for both if they’re different?”

Stamboulieh argues that because the FBI does the same NICS check for both Title I firearms and NFA items, the same appeals process should be available for both item classes. He’s still waiting for clarification from the Feds, but on the surface, their position is untenable.

“The FBI has taken this absurd position that, ‘We’re not going to process this appeal because it’s not for a Title I firearm,’” he explained. “They say that for the NFA, it’s completely different. You don’t have a right to appeal it, so you’re basically SOL. And I think that’s just wrong.”

SEE ALSO: Dancing FBI Agent Responsible for Shooting Bar Patron is Charged

Individuals who are denied a Class III purchase based on a faulty background check have few options to restore their Second Amendment rights. Stamboulieh says he knows one man who contacted his gun-friendly Congressman, and his purchase was approved in a matter of days.

But for the majority of gun owners, legal action remains their only recourse. Stamboulieh says he can usually get the FBI to change their decision, but it will cost between $4,000 and $10,000.

If you’re wondering why gun-rights organizations haven’t stepped in, Stamboulieh says the answer is simple: there’s no money in it.

“The way that 18 USC 925A is written, it only provides attorney’s fees if you’re the prevailing party,” he said. “So, what the government does is, as soon as they get one of these complaints, they voluntarily change their position, and they clear your guy. That automatically gets [the Feds] out of paying for attorney’s fees.”

Stamboulieh has developed legislation that would give the FBI 30-60 days to process an appeal, but the Congressman who requested the law has yet to introduce it. In the meantime, Stamboulieh expects to hear from more gun owners who have had their Constitutional rights stripped due to bureaucratic incompetence.

“I don’t even know what to say to that that’s not profane,” he said.

***Shop GunsAmerica for your next suppressor.*** 

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 41 comments… add one }
  • ejharb August 10, 2018, 8:31 am

    This is why you give them Nothing.

  • Leighton Cavendish July 13, 2018, 9:46 am

    It should NOT take 6-12 MONTHS to get a tax stamp for a suppressor or other NFA item.
    Especially not now with instant photos and fingerprints….computers…cell phones…free calls and emails.
    I envision 2 or 3 agents on desk duty…in a sub-basement…working as slowly as possible on 30 year old computers.
    They still have burnt-in green or amber screens…dot-matrix printers…a dial-up modem,
    A half dozen rubber stamps. many with handles missing or that have been reglued or taped over.
    They get about a half-dozen applications done before there hour lunch.Combined…not each.
    It slows down after lunch, of course. Don’t want to over-exert.

    It should go something like this:
    You go to the store…use the kiosk for photo and fingerprints…you get an instant check done and get your result.
    Print a receipt or send it to your email.
    Pay for your tax stamp(s) . $200 each- with your image embedded.(OK…getting crazy here)
    Use your tax stamp(s) to buy what you need/want.
    Leave store with goods.
    Could have same rules as current checks. If it is delayed, you come back later. Or modify the rules as needed.

    OR…how about this, at least:
    You send in your information(photo,fingerprints,etc). They do the check. You get the OK.
    Now you can purchase however many tax stamps and NFA items you want for say 5 years…as long as you commit no disqualifying crimes during that time.
    At end of 5 years you submit all of your information again…with updates/changes…for a fresh check.
    In the meantime…they check your information every day against fingerprint and arrest records via computer to see if you are staying clean.

    Basically…make it like CBPs Global Entry Trusted Traveler Program.
    Only if you ever screw up you have to liquidate all your NFA items…and they have a record of all.

  • Audie July 7, 2018, 8:54 am

    Read the book 3 felonies a day.

  • Charles Troupe July 7, 2018, 6:59 am

    Just a thought. Being that the U.S. Constitution gives us the right to redress of grievances, once some G.D. Federal Bureaucracy (which has been shown to be just a stupid, corrupt, political arm of the democrat party) then citizens denied their right to redress these legitimate grievances should just by pass the incompetent S.O.B.s and get their fire arms any way they can. There are still states that “allow” private sales between individuals, and there will always be people who don’t give a flip about ANY law, or “rule” that violates the 2nd Amendment. Every American citizen should own, keep, and carry firearms.

  • Tom July 6, 2018, 11:37 pm

    How is the NFA or FOPA still around? They are “tax codes” and not even laws, and infringements on the 2A period dot com. Between the blade and Sig brace, binary trigger as well as bump fire stocks (giggle) there is simply no use for these antiquated codes anymore. Seriously $200 and a TON of paperwork to put a stock on your pistol or try to save your hearing is RIDICULOUS! Guess they stay in place to keep the feds busy, land of the free hahahah my a$$.

  • Wane M July 6, 2018, 10:25 pm

    Im not a fan of the fed’s either, but what were the felonies? Im pretty picky about who has weapons around my familey and myself so I might sit on your application too.

  • Daniel Guerra July 6, 2018, 5:37 pm

    I’m not to sure I understand what’s really going on but, I got denide cause of my back ground check from 16 years ago.

  • Donald Smith July 6, 2018, 5:36 pm

    I believe Jeffrey L and Nick M, were right on, and if they hadn’t been talking about 2A rights, I would have sworn they were talking about the VA, my problem. Everyone knows that the gun is the tool that has made this Nation great. I stopped my subscription to the Gazette when some anti-gun reporter refer to us as having a “Wild West Mentality.” During that period in history, every man carried a gun(s) and was expected to no how to use it/them. Because of dedicated lawmen and posses (the people) they were brought to justice. In the prohibition era when the gangsters used the tommy-gun, the FBI prevailed without taking away 2A rights. Not to mention the wars because we had the best weapons. And last but not least, we are the only country in the world that permits it citizens to be armed, detouring invasion. And Brian I know that one Regional office of the VA has gone rogue.

  • jim July 6, 2018, 2:21 pm

    grant stevens….your premise has already repeatedly been found invalid in every level of court in the nation, including the SC. You are using the same, tired argument that fools in 1950 used, when they claimed that the IRS was not codified in the Constitution. But, you do have the right to free speech, even when you are wrong.

    • David Welsh July 6, 2018, 3:13 pm

      Decades ago, people didn’t have to endure this bureaucracy crap. The power to tax is the power to destroy. But hey, the IRS is “in” the Constitution.

  • Will Murphy July 6, 2018, 2:18 pm

    If the statute provides for prevailing party fees, then file the claim and when the FBI rolls over on the merits, go to the judge on the claim for fees. If they had a chance to avoid the case then they should be liable for the fees incurred to prepare the complaint, as well as court costs.

  • Mike July 6, 2018, 1:46 pm

    I am going through a similar issue. In 2008 I was convicted of a felony. It was lowered to a misdemeanor in 2012. The Felony was under the color of authority. Which is not on the list of misdemeanor that still does not allow you to own a gun. In 2015 or 2016 which ever was the last year you could by a AR 15 in California, I purchased one. Waited my 10 days and picked up the gun. In 2017 I bought a handgun and waited my 10 day and picked up the gun. Now I just moved to Arizona and tried to purchase a handgun and was put in the Delayed response. Not a no or a yes, but delayed. It’s been over a month and I went back to the purchasing place and they told me it’s been to long and the paperwork is to old now. So I filled out the application once again and was placed on the Delayed response again. Now I just had my fingerprints done and will be sending it to the FBI. I talked to someone from the ATF and they are the ones that told me I had to go through the FBI to get it cleared up. It’s just crazy that I bought an AR 15 in California one of the hardest states to get a gun, and now that I’m in ARIZONA I cant.

  • Grant Stevens July 6, 2018, 11:28 am

    The FBI is not codified in the Constitution of the United States and therefore has no legal authority over we the people. It exists solely at our pleasure. Its depredations on our Constitution render its actions null and void. We tolerate its tyranny at our own peril.

  • Altiods July 6, 2018, 11:24 am

    The FBI is still infested with a number of 0bama holdovers. He had eight years to corrupt the DOJ and the FBI with Holder’s and Lynch’s assistance.

    Now it’s going to be a long time until those who allow their political beliefs to meld with their decision making and job functions to be flushed out. Until then they will act based upon their political beliefs (ie American civilians should not be allowed to own firearms) and not necessarily in concert with the law.

  • Michael Keim July 6, 2018, 11:20 am

    It’s time to get rid of the FBI. Look at their track record. Hoover with his files on everyone, Ruby Ridge, Waco, covering for the Clinton hag, dancing idiots, etc. One abuse of power after another.

    • Leighton Cavendish July 13, 2018, 9:26 am

      But the minorities LOVE them.They think they are less bias than local cops and do a better job…even though that is not always the case. They are people like everyone else and can make mistakes and bad decisions and have bias.

    • ejharb August 10, 2018, 6:51 pm

      Review all of the current agents flush the progs and disband the fbi giving it’s duties to the us marshals

  • JOHN T. FOX July 6, 2018, 11:06 am

    HE’S RIGHT ABOUT THE ALLEGED PRO-GUN GROUPS NOT ACTING BECAUSE THERE IS NO MONEY IN IT! THAT IS WHY THEY REFUSE TO ACHIEVE A FINAL VICTORY AGAINST THE ANTI-GUN NUTS. THE MONEY IS IN THE MEDICINE AND NOT THE CURE.

  • G B July 6, 2018, 10:54 am

    The fbi is too busy covering up the crimes of hillary clinton to stop school shootings or get out of the way of our second amendment rights. Ive been waiting over a year for a suppressor and i have never comityed a crime. This is as infuriating as the the gross corruption we now know exists in the fbi ant that has not been cleaned out to this day. Including activly trying to overthrow a dily elected president!! Who is the real yhreat to our rights and republic??

    • Wizzid0 July 6, 2018, 3:51 pm

      Perhaps they actually orchestrated the school shootings to press their gun control agenda. That would explain the actions, [or inactions] of Sheriff Israel and crew.

  • Dr Don July 6, 2018, 10:11 am

    What exactly was his felony? I basically agree with your story, but it leaves out information which could be factually critical to the interpretation, something I’ve become accustomed to in the main stream media.

    • Altoids July 6, 2018, 11:27 am

      Why would it matter what his felony was? The state agreed to reduce it to a misdemeanor, so now that’s what it is.

      Is it now legal for the FBI to deny someone access to a firearm based on a misdemeanor? No one gave the FBI the power to change the law.

      • T July 8, 2018, 3:23 pm

        It matters.

        The same “STATE” that convicted him, NOW grants otherwise.

        With all the talk of “State” incompetance, let me judge as the reader, what the “convict” has been Accused/Convicted of….

        Many a dirt bag/plain old dummy have won and lost on technicality.

        Where theres smoke………

  • Gene Spanos July 6, 2018, 8:53 am

    If you don’t challenge your rights under the constitution then what good are you…….
    Take to them – take them to court.

  • Tom July 6, 2018, 8:45 am

    There needs to be a suit brought against the government contesting the unconstitutional background check.

  • joefoam July 6, 2018, 8:41 am

    I’m going to bet the ‘Fix NICS’ bill passed didn’t address this issue. Time and time again you hear of some clerk with hundreds if not thousands of documents sitting in their desk drawers waiting for processing. If you or I were that lax at our jobs we would be fired immediately, but since they are gov’t employees they may only get a slap on the wrist or reassigned. National gun registration will be administered the same, they screw up, we get to spend years & tons of cash just to prove we were right and did have a 2A right to own a weapon.

  • Jerry Jones July 6, 2018, 8:15 am

    I would suggest that they contact their local member of Congress too…..Congress has oversight over the FBI…their Lawyer should also contact the NRA to help them find a Federal Judge to order the FBI to provide due process…..after all it’s a favorite trick of Liberals to counteract legal matters that fly in the face of their agenda.

  • Jay July 6, 2018, 7:52 am

    Unfortunately the government has the Patriot act and can deny you due process, read it! If they pull that card guess what, legal battle for years!

  • KIM July 6, 2018, 7:26 am

    HE SHOULD NEVER DID ANYTHING TO BE CONVICTED OF A FELONY IN THE FIRST PLACE, HE HAS NO ONE TO BLAME BUT HIMSELF, I OWN SEVERAL NFA WEAPONS AND NEVER HAD ANY PROBLEMS PASSING THE BACKGROUND CHECK BECAUSE UNLIKE THIS GUY I HAVE AN UNBLEMISHED BACKGROUND WITH NO CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS

    • Infidel762X51 July 6, 2018, 8:32 am

      Exactly

    • ANTI-KIM July 6, 2018, 9:07 am

      With all the laws on the books today we all commit felonies on a pretty regular basis whether we know it or not. Doesn’t matter what the gentleman did to receive one, he took his punishment and obviously hasn’t screwed up since then. So yeah think back on your life and remember the time you could have been in his shoes.

      • Al July 6, 2018, 10:00 am

        “we all commit felonies on a pretty regular basis”?!?
        Uh, no, I don’t.
        So I wonder just what you’re up to?!?
        I’m not sure how you could possibly come up with that except out of paranoia, it simply isn’t so.
        Now if you spoke to misdemeanors, maybe, especially the way some fools drive, but I ain’t buying your perception of felonious activity on the part of a large portion of the populace.
        It certainly doesn’t include me.

    • Gopher July 6, 2018, 10:38 am

      “In 2010 he requested that his felony charge be reduced to a misdemeanor, and he received a letter from the state reinstating his Second Amendment rights.”

      His current record should show a misdemeanor, whatever the details of history.

  • Richard A Harding July 6, 2018, 7:00 am

    Which is exactly why we don’t want “No fly, no buy”. Too easy to get on it, too hard to get off. Litigation is expensive, too expensive for a lot of people, maybe most, the feral govt. can afford it with our dollars, but we can’t. Just look at the people ensnared by Mueller, destroyed economically, then when found innocent, “Oh well.”

    • Johnny Raygun July 6, 2018, 8:59 am

      “the people ensnared by Mueller”? Please name those who Mueller has ensnared and or destroyed…. 19 subpoenas and 6 convictions………… As an American, I want, as you should, those who conspired with Russia to be prosecuted to the fullest. Denying the truth hurts my country and lessens your post. . .

      • Hondo July 12, 2018, 7:27 pm

        Johnny are really this stupid ?

        Mueller is a deep state piece of dog shit that’s covering up or destroying evidence against the last regime.

  • Jeffrey L. Frischkorn July 6, 2018, 6:50 am

    \”Intentional,\” Nick..? No, I doubt it… One of the most aggravating things about government is simply its stereotypical bureaucratic mindset; some low level clerk looks into something via an agency textbook, can\’t find anything and is too afraid to proceed for fear of violating procedure and losing his/her job. The matter gets kicked upstairs to some manager who\’s attitude is even more entrenched in the \”this-is-the-way-we\’ve-always-done-it\” mindset and rejects the plaintiff\’s request.. (See the \”Peter Principle\” that states \”in a hierarchy all people rise to their level of incompetence.\”)… Sadly, unless things are spelled out specifically the default goes to \”no.\”

  • Nick M July 6, 2018, 5:22 am

    It is not incompetence. It is intentional.

    • Wayne R Cook July 6, 2018, 6:40 am

      This is part and parcel of socialism. Our government has quietly chosen to ignore the Constitution.

      • Mark July 6, 2018, 11:14 am

        I have been denied too.
        How do I contact this attorney?
        For all you “naysayers”. I have no criminal history. I’m retired military, and a retired Deputy Sheriff.

    • Brian M July 6, 2018, 7:26 am

      I’m with Nick on this one…it is intentional. The majority of the FBI doesn’t want people owning firearms and they believe that we don’t need them. They look for ANY reason to be able to deny our 2A rights. The 2A is NOT a privilege granted to us by some alphabet soup agency and this is clearly stated within our U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. I know some wannabe attorney will argue that we need to regulate this and that, but you are incorrect. Yes, I understand that this practice of regulating is and has been taking place, but it is 100% unconstitutional. There was a time when anyone of any age could purchase a gun from a general store and they didn’t shoot up their school. Today it’s different, but it’s in spite of government and not because government agencies stop or hinder killings. Most of the US gov’t has gone rogue!

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