False Negatives

Folks tend to focus on the false positive rate in NICS denials: some 96% of denials turn out to be in error; millions of innocent persons’ rights were violated. Yeah, that’s pretty bad.

But it gets worse.

False negatives.

When Background Checks Fail
A convicted felon, who was found “not guilty by reason of insanity” when he stabbed his sister in 2009 and then a manager at a Walmart in 2014, filled out a Form 4473 at a gun shop, lying multiple times while doing so.

Then, somehow, his background check was approved by the FBI in mere minutes, and he purchased two brand new handguns.
[…]
“Indiana State Police Capt. Dave Bursten told local media Abraman’s record appears in the system — under both of his assumed names. He said its the FBI’s job to figure out why the background check still cleared.”

Yes, we know about the DC Navy yard shooter, the Sutherland Springs shooter, and others who shouldn’t have passed background checks, but did because they hadn’t been entered into the system. This is different.

This convicted felon, and one adjudicated mentally incompetent, was in NICS. After the fact, the police verified that he was listed there as a prohibited person. Under both names he uses. Yet somehow this guy, who bloody well knew he shouldn’t pass a NICS check, felt confident enough to go in, fill out a 4473 with his own name, and successfully pass a check and buy guns.

In recent months, I’ve seen some other stories about felons successfully buying guns from dealers. It’s only within the past week that I really noted the apparent trend.

Why are felons suddenly confident of their ability to purchase firearms through dealers, correctly assuming they’ll get a pass from NICS? How often is this happening?

We know about the false positives because honest folks challenge denials; they have a vested interest in the truth coming out.

Criminals, on the other hand, are hardly going to challenge their “proceed,” and admit to yet another felony. So we don’t know how many other have obtain a false negative…

Or how they arranged for that. What might be the going rate…?

I think NICS should be investigated. Just tell the FBI it’s a Russian plot.

Just another reason not to impose “universal-except-for-criminals background checks.”


Carl is an unpaid TZP volunteer. If you found this post useful, please consider dropping something in his tip jar. He could use the money, what with truck repairs and recurring bills.

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3 thoughts on “False Negatives”

    1. No idea how often it’s happening. I’ve seen 3-4 in just the past few weeks. But felons who successfully gamed NICS are hardly going to self-report. The stories I saw came from various states, and I didn’t think to collate where their convictions were.

  1. I recently got my second ever NICS delay. It was for the purchase of three lowers, two 80% and one complete. Interesting, because I own some NFA items, had a C&R, have multiple carry permits, had a security clearance (USMC), and have filled out more 4473’s than I have fingers and toes. I also supplied my SSN.
    If they can’t find me in the system, it’s not worth a damn.
    Ah, I long for the days when it was money over the counter and mail order what you want.

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