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The National Instant Check System (NICS) is a national database containing records of persons who are disqualified from receiving firearms. It was mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and was activated in 1998.
NICS personnel check a wide variety of federal and state databases to determine whether the person seeking to buy a firearm falls into one of nine categories of persons prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms. These nine categories are persons who:
- 1. have been convicted of a crime with a potential imprisonment of one year or more (with many exceptions)
- 2. have been adjudicated mentally defective
- 3. have renounced U.S. Citizenship
- 4. are not citizens or permanent resident aliens
- 5. are addicted to illegal substances
- 6. have been convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence
- 7. have a domestic restraining order in place
- 8. have been dishonorably discharged from the military, or
- 9. are fugitives from justice.