Firearm Background Checks FAQs

Why was I denied and what can I do about it?

Our personnel are not allowed to give specific information about denials to anyone over the phone. You must complete an "Appeal of Denial of Attempted Firearm Transfer" form and send it to TBI. We are required to protect the confidentiality of your transaction and you may be assured that it will not be discussed with other parties. Most federal firearms dealers have the forms in stock. The dealer you attempted to purchase the firearm from will assist you in filling out the form and many of the dealers will fax the form to TBI for you.

Once the appeal form is received, TBI personnel will begin a review process, attempting to obtain the information needed to determine if the denial should be overturned or upheld.  The background check is valid for 30 days, so the earlier an appeal form is received after the denial, the more time is available for processing of your appeal.  If an appeal is not received within 30 days, it will not be processed. If the denial is based on missing information in your criminal history record, such as missing dispositions for arrests, TBI will contact arresting agencies and clerks of court on your behalf to seek the information needed. If the reason for denial is missing information and that information is not provided by arresting agencies or clerks of court, the denial will become a "conditional proceed". See below for more information.

Although our staff does not pursue disposition information past a mandatory 15-day period, you can ask the arresting agency or court clerk to provide the information to the TBI. Although this will not affect your current purchase attempt, it can clear your record for any future purchases of firearms.

What is a "Conditional Proceed"?

If during the background check, TBI locates a record with outstanding disqualifying charges or charges that are undeterminable as disqualifying, we will deny the transaction. Upon an appeal of the denial, our staff will attempt to find disposition information on the charges in order to make a determination of eligibility to purchase a firearm.  If we cannot obtain the information within the mandatory 15-day limit, the transaction will be marked as a Conditional Proceed. This means that the firearm dealer may lawfully, at his/her discretion, complete the transfer, although it in no way means that the dealer must complete the transfer. Should the dealer choose not to complete the transfer, your only appeal is to the FBI's NICS Appeals Services Unit.  You may contact them at (877) 324-6427.

I previously tried to purchase a firearm and was denied.  After I filed my appeal, the denial was overturned and I was allowed to get the firearm.  Now I've tried to purchase another firearm and was denied again.  What's going on?

If your previous denial was overturned, it became an approved transaction. Under existing state and federal law, TBI cannot retain any information about an approved transaction and so will not have any record about the overturn. Documentation submitted by the arresting agency or the clerk of court may have been sufficient for our staff to overturn the denial but not sufficient for TBI's Records and Identification Unit and/or the FBI's Criminal History Records Information Data Correction Unit to make permanent changes to your record. Submission of the proper forms by the arresting agency or clerk of court will result in your record being amended by the TBI and the FBI. Such documentation may be the R-84 Final Disposition Report Form or an official Order for Expungement.

Why am I asked to provide my Social Security number?  The federal form 4473 that I filled out lists the Social Security number as optional.

Providing your social security number is optional.  However, supplying it will significantly speed up processing of the transaction by eliminating false matches. Your personal information, including social security number, will not be retained by the TBI after your transaction is approved.

I have a Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit.  Why do I also have to have this check done to be able to purchase a firearm?

Tennessee's Handgun Carry Permit does not meet the requirements of the federal Brady Bill because it lacks a requirement for an annual re-check of the permit holder's criminal history and it does not require a check through the National Instant Check System (NICS). Therefore, purchasers holding a valid Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit still have to have an extensive check performed when purchasing a firearm.  The carry permit can be used as a primary source of identification for purchasing a firearm as long as it contains the purchaser's photograph, date of birth, and current address.

Why do I have to show proof of address if the address on my identification doesn't match where I live?  Why isn't a post office box good enough for an address?

All federal firearms dealers are required to make sure that the purchaser's correct and current residence address are listed on the form. Since a post office box doesn't indicate residence, it is unacceptable for address purposes.  If your primary identification does not show your current residence address, you must show proof of address through an acceptable secondary form of identification.

I sent TBI an appeal form recently, but haven't heard anything back. How can I check on the status of my appeal?

You can check on the status of your appeal by contacting the Federal Firearms Dealer that ran your transaction.

TICS Unit Manager
(615) 744-4620