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Universal Background Check 101: What You Need To Know

By on 2019-07-02 14:17:55, 0 Comments

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If you don’t already know what a Universal Background Check is, then you are definitely out-of-the-loop. Currently, Democrats are trying to pass the Universal Background Check Bill (HR 8). At the moment, it’s already been approved by the House of Representatives. The bill would require all firearm dealers to run a background check when transferring firearms between private parties. So, with Universal Background Checks being a hot topic today, reading this guide will help you be better informed. 

What Is A Universal Background Check?

A Universal Background Check is run on someone is interested in purchasing a gun or other firearm from a registered manufacturer or dealer. It is done to ensure that criminals and those with a history of mental illness can’t purchase a gun. This background check is conducted by running the customer’s name through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The NICS was created and launched by the FBI in 1998.

What Can You Find Out On A Universal Background Check?

The purpose of running this background check is to find out if there’s something that would prohibit a person from purchasing a firearm. 

Things that can be found include:

  • Criminal history including past charges and convictions. 
  • Mental illness history and if they’ve been institutionalized.
  • If they are an illegal or legal United States citizen. 
  • Any protection or restraining orders filed against them. 
  • Dishonorable discharge from the Armed Forces.
  • If they have any other registered firearms. 

How Long Does It Take For It To Come Back? 

A NICS gun background check typically takes a few minutes to come back. Since it’s only looking for specific information, the process is quite short. Unlike a normal background check, which typically has a longer search process. 

What’s The Difference Between A Universal and General Background Check? 

– The Information You Get

As stated before, Universal Background Checks focus on retrieving information that could prevent a person from using and owning a firearm. 

With a general background check, you can view a wide variety of information regarding a person. This may include:

  • Person’s name
  • Past and current addresses
  • Social media profile
  • Work history
  • Criminal past
  • Phone number(s)
  • Siblings
  • Aliases
  • Financial history
  • Age

– Reasons For Running The Check

The motivations behind running these two background searches differs. A Universal Check is for the sole purpose of vetting a potential gun owner.

The reasons for running a general background check could be:

  • To vet an online date, babysitter, coach, tutor, etc.
  • To see if a potential tenant can be trusted.
  • Ensure that someone in your child’s life isn’t a sex offender.
  • To make sure a potential employee is who they say they are. 

– The Cost

Running a NICS gun background search is usually free. However, there may be some charges in states that act as points of contact. 

For doing a regular background check, the price can range from free to a monthly fee. It all depends on what the purpose of your search is and what service you decide to use. For example, your first person search with Kiwi Searches is only $0.95. 

Is Running A Universal Background Check Required By Law? 

It is required by law for registered and licensed firearm dealers to run a Universal Background Check on potential buyers. Currently, there are two gun control Federal laws pertaining to background checks.

The Gun Control Act of 1968

This act came about after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It restricts any persons who have criminal convictions or a history of substance abuse from purchasing a gun. Also, it requires that firearm sellers get a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and meet other requirements. 

Brady Act of 1993

The Brady Act (also known as the Brady Law), requires all sellers who have a registered FFL to run NICS background checks on customers purchasing guns. To date, according to the FBI, “More than 230 million such checks have been made, leading to more than 1.3 million denials.” This act was created as a result of Press Secretary Jim Brady being shot in an assasination attempt against former President Ronald Regan.

Along with these 2 Federal laws, many states do have their own laws pertaining to gun control. However, there is a loophole with these current laws. Those who are private or unregistered sellers of firearms aren’t required to run a Universal Background Check. The Universal Background Check Bill that is looking to be passed would help tighten that loophole. How? By requiring expanded background checks to be run for firearm purchases being made online and at gun shows. 

How Can I Run This Type Of Check? 

So, as you might have already guessed, a regular person cannot run Universal Background Check through the NICS. That can only be done by FFL registered firearm sellers. 

What If I Want To Run My Own General Background Check? 

Running your own background check is fairly easy. As stated before, you can run a background check to find out if someone has a criminal past, to see if they’re a threat to you and your family. 

First, you need to visit our Kiwi Searches people search page. Then in the search bar, enter the person’s name and state they live in. We will take care of retrieving as much information as possible about the person from our vast public records databases. After this, you can purchase a full information report (only $0.95 for your first one!) 

Why Running Universal Background Checks Is Important

The main motivation for conducting Universal Background Checks on potential firearm owners is to make sure that dangerous, unstable people don’t get their hands on a firearm. Too often you hear about criminals and others using unregistered firearms to shoot people in public. Recent incidents like Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and the Orlando Nightclub shootings have reminded U.S. citizens of the need for stricter gun control laws. 

Here are some important gun-related statistics to support the need for more background checks and restrictions pertaining to purchasing a gun. 

  • Since Sandy Hook, there have been about 1,600 mass shootings. 
  • The U.S. gun-related death rate is the highest it has ever been. The rate had risen to 39,773 in 2017. 
  • In 2017, about 60% of gun deaths were suicides, while about 37% were homicides.
  • In 2018, about 26,181,936 NICS background checks were run.
  • Thanks to NICS, 1.3 million have been denied the purchase of a firearm. 


Well, that’s our guide to Universal Background Checks. So, whether you are looking to purchase a firearm or are just interested in learning more about this topic, we hope you found this guide useful. 

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