Under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, gun dealers are required to submit
information about prospective buyers to a federal computer system for review. The system
is designed to prevent sales to convicted felons, fugitives from justice, and other
disqualified buyers. The information includes the potential purchaser's name,
sex, race, date of birth, and state of residence.
One section of the Brady Law requires this National Instant Check System
to "destroy all records" relating to background checks that do not raise
red flags in the system.
In regulations implementing the Brady Law, however, the FBI provided for an
"Audit Log" of background checks. This log is maintained for as long as six months
after a firearm transaction.
Though the Audit Log has creditable purposes in auditing and oversight, these
values conflict with the interest of civil libertarians in preventing lawful
handgun ownership information from being collected by the government. Crediting
the government's interest in efficiency over her citizens' interest in privacy, the
U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia upheld a challenge to the FBI's Brady
NRA v. Reno No. 99-5270, U.S. Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia (July 11, 2000)
National Instant Criminal Background Check Regulation,
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice (October 30, 1998)
U.S.C. sec. 922(t)(2)(C) (requiring NICS system to destroy all records
relating to a firearm transfer that does not violate law)