“When a NICS background check matches a record to the prospective firearms transferee, the NICS Section determines if a federal prohibitor exists. However, if a federal prohibitor does not exist, the NICS Section employee processing the background check must further review the record match(es) to determine if any applicable state law renders the prospective firearms transferee prohibited.”
That quote is from the FBI’S 2017 NICS Operations Report, as is this statement about what happens after the three days: “When a NICS transaction is delayed, the Brady Act allows the FFL [Federal Firearms Licensee] to legally transfer the firearm if the NICS transaction is not resolved within three business days. However, the NICS Section continues to search for the information necessary to make a final determination until the transaction is purged prior to 90 days.”
Gun control advocates want this to be known as the “Charleston Loophole” and ignore the fact that the check continues for up to 90 days. The FFL may transfer the firearm after the three days if the check has not concluded – the “default proceed.” If the FBI finds that the buyer is a prohibited person after the three-day period, they determine if the transfer was made and refer the case to the ATF for firearms retrieval. In other words: if, at any point during the 90 days, the FBI finds the record that shows the buyer is prohibited from owning a firearm, the ATF is sent to get the gun.
That’s how coverage of the so-called “loophole” should be framed. But it isn’t and the data tells the real story – at least once you look at all of the data.