I’m writing this at the end of a very busy year for the firearms industry.
Gun, ammunition and firearms accessory sales are hitting record high levels. Dealers are unable to keep inventory in stock for more than a few hours and gun dealers and buyers alike are frustrated with the inefficient manner in which the NH State Police (NHSP) “gun line” processes requests for checks on handgun buyers.
To be sure, GOA has heard from dozens of gun buyers and dealers complaining about the handgun buying process. At the same time, they have all said that when a gun dealer contacts the FBI NICS operations center for the sale of a rifle or shotgun, most checks are completed in less than five minutes.
GOA has strongly opposed background checks throughout our entire 45 year history. They don’t work, as evidenced by recent high profile murders where the murderer passed a background check because the criminal did not have a prior criminal record — including the now infamous Las Vegas murderer and the criminal who shot former Member of Congress Gabriel Giffords.
The Sandy Hook murderer killed his own mother and stole her firearms before he set about to harm innocent educators and children. His mother passed a background check and secured her firearms but that didn’t stop her criminal son.
GOA has received credible reports about honest Americans being improperly denied their right to own a gun because of the seriously flawed NICS system.
Background Checks Delays Lasting Several Months
The delay prone New Hampshire system is just the latest outrage.
Mr. Jim McLoud, the owner of Shooters Outpost in Hooksett, NH, recently contacted me to discuss the lengthy delays by the New Hampshire “gun line” and the problems they are causing for his business.
Mr. McLoud told me that he has over $100,000 in handguns that have been sold but cannot be handed over to the buyers because of delays in the “instant check” — delays that are averaging about a hundred transactions per week, and taking a few months to be completed.
I’ve also heard from Mr. Tony Hook who runs RTD Mfg. in Goffstown. Mr. Hook told me when he contacts the “gun line” one of two things happens. Either he is told “we will call you back,” then at some later time, the dealer is asked for the customer’s information (name, date of birth, etc.)
Or NHSP takes the buyers information on the initial call and just says “we will call you back.” When gun sales are not hitting record high volumes, the call back comes anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours.
However, during busy times, the hours turn into days and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the days are turning into weeks and sometimes months. This is far from instant and completely unacceptable — especially when a call to the FBI NICS operations center is handled in less than five minutes.
Both Mr. McLoud and Mr. Hook told me that in some cases, checks for handgun sales by the NHSP have run as long as three months.
NHSP Operates in Grossly Inefficient Manner
This is not a new problem, it is a twenty year old problem that has been worsened by the increase in gun sales due to widespread riots, looting and COVID-19.
Those who have been involved in this issue for most of the past two and one half decades have told me that the New Hampshire “gun line” has always been operated in this grossly inefficient manner — especially when compared to the FBI NICS system which gives an almost instantaneous response.
Mr. Hook told me about a delayed transaction — after the third business day (as the law allows) he released the gun to the customer. Then, after two more days had passed NHSP called him to let him know that the transaction was denied.
They then asked Mr. Hook to attempt to retrieve the firearm from the prohibited possessor. Tony told me that this was strictly voluntary even though the NHSP was unable to complete their assigned task in a reasonable period of time and after issuing a delayed denial they enlisted the help of a small business owner to do their job. Now Mr. Hook has a used gun on his hands.
GOA has opposed NICS since its inception. For starters, we vehemently disagree with the premise of the system — that people should have to check millions of law abiding people to find one criminal. But we also disagree with foisting weeks long delays on gun dealers and buyers because certain people think we should be using state tax dollars to do a job that the Federal Government will do for free.
Now gun buyers are seeing first hand that which we predicted would happen is actually happening — that is, people can’t obtain a self-defense firearm in a timely fashion.
So the time is right to use the form above to contact Governor Sununu and let him know that the law allows, but does not require, the state police to conduct these checks.
The Governor can easily issue an executive order telling the state police to cease to conduct these checks. If that happens, by default, all checks will be conducted by the FBI.
Gun owners will face fewer delays if they only have to clear one set of hurdles (at the federal level), as opposed to also forcing gun buyers to submit to state-mandated background checks, which then adds another level of potential delays.
Have you experienced a long delay? Are you a gun dealer having trouble with the “gun line”? Click here to tell us about it.