The top reason for a federal denial – 577,814 instances – is that the prospective gun buyer had been convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year (or a misdemeanor punishable by more than two years). In 143,852 cases the basis for denial pertained to domestic violence – either a restraining order or a misdemeanor conviction. Mental health, believed to be pertinent in the Virginia Tech massacre, the Colorado movie theater shooting, and the slaughter of innocents in Newtown, Conn., was the reason for an NICS denial in 10,180 cases.
Of course, it’s impossible to know whether denied individuals were subsequently able to obtain firearms through a private sale or theft.
What share of gun sales is private, without background checks?
A number is hard to come by. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which has spearheaded the drive for tougher gun laws, says at least 40 percent of firearms are acquired without background checks, citing a 1996 study done for the Police Foundation.
Who favors universal background checks, and why?
Gun control activists say it’s ludicrous to exempt some gun buyers from criminal background checks, and that public safety and common sense demand redress, preferably by a federal law. Absent federal action, they are pushing states to require unlicensed gun sellers at gun shows to run background checks on prospective buyers.