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Fifteen years ago, on November 30, 1998, the FBI flipped the switch on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, a provision of the 1993 Brady Act that requires background checks on individuals purchasing firearms or receiving them through some other means.

The goal at the time was to disqualify any transfers of firearms to ineligible individuals while at the same time ensuring timely transactions for eligible individuals. Today, as the FBI-run background check system marks its anniversary, successes are seen daily and in real-time on both fronts.

Since its inception, the NICS has processed more than 177 million background checks requested by gun sellers, or federal firearms licensees (FFLs).

On its busiest days, the system processes more than 10,000 automated checks an hour across 94 million records in FBI criminal databases, including the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the Interstate Identification Index (III), and the NICS index of 11 million individuals who fall into certain categories that prohibit them from receiving firearms (see sidebar). Nine out of 10 NICS determinations are instantaneous, so FFLs know immediately whether to proceed with transactions or deny them. To date, NICS queries of criminal databases have resulted in 1,065,090 denials, with 88,479 in 2012 alone.

Read more: FBI ? NICS 15th Anniversary: Stats Show Success of Gun Background Check System
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