The FBI is Adding New Database for Wider Background Checks on Gun Purchasers

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The FBI is Adding New Database for Wider Background Checks on Gun Purchasers

The N-DEx system is more accurate than NICS, according to the FBI. (Photo: FBI/Facebook)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation will now use the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange when performing background checks for gun purchases. The FBI started the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange, or N-DEx, back in 2008.

“N-DEx was one of the FBI’s answers to the 9/11 Commission’s report calling for greater information sharing between all levels of law enforcement,” said FBI unit chief John C. Quinlan.

According to the FBI, these records would keep known criminals from buying guns, potentially preventing crimes across the country. The FBI first considered adding these records to NICS background checks in 2015 after an internal review showed that they could have halted the sale of guns to the Charleston Church shooter.

By adding the N-DEx info to current background checks, the agency is doing what many gun rights advocates have called for a long time: enforcing existing laws, don’t add new ones. Still, the N-DEx is relatively new and unknown and people will have personal security and privacy concerns.

The FBI conducted a study comparing one million standard background checks versus N-DEx checks and found that N-DEx was more accurate. Out of the million checks N-DEx caught two dozen more prohibited persons than NICS alone.

N-DEx allows criminal justice agencies to pool their files and search and share local, state, tribal and federal records — information that might not be on file with NICS.  For example, N-DEx contains incident, arrest, and booking reports; pretrial investigations; supervised released reports; calls for service; photos; and field contact/identification records.

Department of Justice deputy assistant attorney general Frank Campbell approved the move. “The idea that the FBI would have info in a database that would prohibit a gun transaction — but not make it available to the background check examiners — just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

See Also: FBI: Concealed Carriers Stopped 8 Percent of Active Shooters

NICS advisory board vice chairman Ross Loder also supported the decision to use both, but cautioned against using N-DEx in place of NICS.

“I think everyone recognizes that it could be a valuable and powerful tool, at the same time recognizing that there is the potential for significant consequences, and it would be premature to proceed too aggressively or too quickly,” said Loder.

“N‑DEx receives data from more than 5,200 agencies,” reads the FBI’s N-DEx page. “It contains approximately 260 million records and facilitates an average of 50,000 searches per week. As new users become authorized, searches of the system continue to increase, and new success stories indicate the investigative effectiveness of N‑DEx.”

The N-Dex can also be used by states that don’t use the NICS system. While the bulk of states use the existing national background check system, several states use internal background checks.

NICS has many critics for failing to identify people who aren’t legally allowed to own guns. Earlier this year President Donald Trump signed the “Fix NICS” Act into law. The Fix NICS act penalizes government agencies that fail to report records to the NICS system.

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  • Son_of_Liberty November 3, 2019, 11:17 am

    Those that think background checks are illegal and unconstitutional… May you be educated.

    “The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”
    – Samuel Adams, Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 1788

    Read the last part of that quote. Criminal background was a factor in deciding when someone could buy and own a firearm. The difference between back then and today is, criminals back then we’re usually hung.

  • Donald L. Cline December 25, 2018, 1:57 pm

    We, the People, cannot lawfully be required to ask government permission to exercise a right, the peaceable exercise of which does not interfere with the rights of anyone else. We cannot be required to suffer a background check of our papers and effects recorded on government databases in order to get government permission to exercise a right. We cannot be required to give up our right to conviction in a Court of Law (due process) before a right may be taken from us. We cannot be required to suffer the enforcement of a federal law the power for which is not delegated to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution. We cannot be required to suffer the enforcement of a federal law the power for which is prohibited to the States by the U.S. Constitution. Any attempt to require any of the above of the people constitutes abdication of the federal government’s lawful power to govern and reduces it to the status of rogue occupation government.

    No crime or criminal access to a firearm has ever been prevented by a background check, and background checks were never intended to address criminal use of a firearm. The purpose of background checks as a precondition to obtaining government permission to exercise a right is to turn the RIGHT into a revocable government-issued privilege government has no lawful authority to issue or deny. Its purpose is also to sucker the citizen into waiving his 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th Amendment rights in order to obtain that bogus permission so when government deems it necessary to revoke the bogus permission, the citizens, it will be claimed, will have no rights left to argue the point.

    Ladies and gentlemen, unless Americans begin standing up in court and en masse claiming and demanding their right to keep and bear arms, we are on the precipice of complete and utter tyranny on a massive scale.

  • alan July 18, 2018, 9:38 pm


  • Just1Spark July 14, 2018, 11:00 am

    Anytime you see the words ‘database’ or ‘data exchange’, change them to ‘secret govt list’.

    Those always work out great.

  • Hondo July 14, 2018, 9:32 am

    The same FBI that has been weaponized by the Obama regime ? you can’t trust the IRS, DEA, EPA, ATF and any other alphabet agency.

    Unless you find a way to start draining the swamp of the treason/sedition minded people that infiltrated their ranks.

  • Ray Lord July 13, 2018, 9:53 pm

    Criminals don’t give a damn about background checks. All background checks are an infringement of our rights. What part of “shall not be infringed” does the government not understand?

  • d’Allen July 13, 2018, 2:59 pm

    We should be as concerned about false positives (reporting innocent people as “prohibited”) as failing to catch criminals with any of these databases. This has been a real problem with “no fly” lists. Are there any safeguards with the N-DEX database?

  • Dwight July 13, 2018, 11:47 am

    My daughter was accused of selling her prescription drugs, a felony, lost her rights to purchase a gun immediately upon the arrest. The case was ultimately dismissed with prejudice meaning they cannot charge her again but she was unable to purchase a gun for a year after the dismissal. We worked with the local sheriff, a man that is very pro gun and got the ban lifted. Once a year all the records come up for review, at least in North Dakota and he corrected the record at that time for her. If denied this might be a help to those out there that may have this problem since the State officials did not seem to want to correct the record. Fortunately she had a pro gun sheriff, things could be different if the sheriff is anti gun.

    I Would also think that if you have the proper documentation you actually could make sure that a prohibited person could be put on the list using the same procedure, after all, ultimately we as responsible gun owners have to accept some of the responsibility when our local officials do not or are lacking the proper info. No system can be trusted that does not have the complete and proper records.

    • Mac July 13, 2018, 1:22 pm

      Yes, but no system is perfect under any circumstances, and any error(s) are better this way than to miss the kooks, wierdos, terrorists and fanatics or others that have no need or reason to buy/posses a gun. There are ways to reduce errors of the type you cited and these should be examined and improvements strived for. For now and for the vast majority it works, but again, better to err(or) on the side of caution (like happened to your daughter, and only temporarily) than to miss someone that results in a tragedy.

      • Wzrd July 17, 2018, 5:39 pm

        Careful. Erring on the side of caution would be what gun control advocates claim they want. Dismissing the fact that a few people may be wrongly denied their rights for the greater good is akin to banning “assault weapons” & taking them from everyone, including (currently) law-abiding citizens because you never know who might decide to use them for evil. If it saves just one life it’s worth it, right? Better safe than sorry isn’t always the case, in my opinion anyway. And no I don’t have a solution or see any obvious way around it. Mistakes happen. I just don’t feel it’s wise to so readily accept a loss of rights as collateral damage or whatever you want to call it. I think everyone of us would feel this way if it were our rights being denied.

  • SuperG July 13, 2018, 10:52 am

    The trouble with databases, is that the people inputting the data are usually minimum wage temp employees, so therefore really do not care about accuracy. I’d also be surprised if any record input had a digital marker of who input the data. With no accountability, you have plausible deniability,

  • joefoam July 13, 2018, 9:17 am

    Gov’t agencies working together? Multiple opportunities to make a mess of things. See previous article re: ‘assault rifle’ registration in CA. If you think there is not already a gun registration with your name on it, I have a Unicorn for sale.

  • Al July 13, 2018, 8:07 am

    I think the real danger is not going to he solved with ANY database.
    True criminals are below the radar in most cases…. and they can get guns virtually anywhere. They’re darn sure not going to buy a registered weapon.

  • Jay July 13, 2018, 7:37 am

    N-DEX is actually a data base from three or more other agencies. The more people involved the more likely hood of human error. I can see the abuses coming! It should be that this information would not even be deemed used until the NCIS systems flags the person and then they are used to find out why and if it is correct! The NCIS system has always had flaws, it’s run by humans and we have seen the mistakes cost life’s. Those mistakes were usually the result of someone not doing their job not actually the system itself! The FBI has fallen short on many occasions too costing life’s, so we just keep depending on these flawed systems run by those who have cost life’s. All government agencies are full of too many workers just punching a time clock for a pay check and it cost us all in more ways than one!

  • Pete July 13, 2018, 5:53 am

    As a dealer, I have to rely on the accuracy of background checks. It is maddening to find out the FBI has had additional information since 2008 that they haven’t used. It’s worse to read that at least one known mass murderer would not have been able to buy a gun legally if Ndex had been used..

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