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NICS and Background ChecksSince 1969, SEARCH's primary objective has been to identify and to help solve the information management problems of State and local justice agencies confronted with the need to exchange information with other local agencies, State agencies, agencies in other States, or with the Federal Government.
One of the most critical ways justice agencies exchange information is through criminal history record background checks.
Over the past 40 years, SEARCH has worked with States and the Federal Government on legal, policy and operational aspects of criminal history background checks, providing assistance, guidance and expertise on various background check initiatives, including the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a system through which firearm dealers contact for information on whether a firearm transfer violates Federal or State law.
In fact, SEARCH's Membership Group is comprised primarily of State-level justice officials responsible for operational decisions and policymaking concerning the management of criminal justice information, particularly criminal history information.
Under the direction of the Membership Group, SEARCH has developed an impressive range of resource materials and publications; convened many relevant conferences and workshops; and conducted many surveys over the years to help inform practitioners on background check issues.
SEARCH has also partnered with Federal and State stakeholders on critical background check issues with national implications. For example, for more than a decade, SEARCH has been involved in efforts to develop a standardized criminal history record transmission specification. SEARCH's expertise in the field of criminal justice information management and background check makes us a valuable resource to justice practitioners nationwide.
|New! SEARCH Recommendations: Improving the National Instant Background Screening System for Firearms Purchases
|As part of its outreach on NICS, SEARCH first prepared this document in February 2013 to respond to questions from Congress and the Administration. It contains important facts and background about NICS and the states’ role in the system. It includes SEARCH Member recommendations regarding funding and support for this critical system, and provides thoughts about—
Some of our NICS and background check system resources are as follows:
- Check out our Web page devoted to NICS information
- Check out our Web page devoted to background information and links on criminal history records (also known as "rap sheets")
- Check out our Web page devoted to information on noncriminal justice background checks
- See SEARCH Membership Group resolutions on national criminal history record background check issues
- SEARCH has conducted nearly two dozen surveys since 2000 on various criminal history record check and related issues. Check them out
- SEARCH has been involved in a national effort to develop a standard interstate criminal history rap sheet. View or download the latest specification
- Download this comprehensive report on use and management of criminal history record information prepared by SEARCH
- See legal and policy reports dealing with criminal history record issues dating back to 1992, or download these feature publications:
- Report of the National Focus Group on the Retention of Civil Fingerprints by Criminal History Record Repositories
- Survey of State Criminal History Information Systems, 2006
- Report of the National Focus Group on Emergency Housing and Criminal Record Checks: The Hurricane Katrina Experience
- Report of the National Task Force on the Criminal Record Backgrounding of America
- Report of the BJS/SEARCH National Focus Group on Identity Theft Victimization and Criminal Record Repository Operations
- Report of the National Task Force on the Commercial Sale of Criminal Justice Record Information
- Public Attitudes Toward Uses of Criminal History Information
- Report of the National Task Force on Federal Legislation Imposing Reporting Requirements and Expectations on the Criminal Justice System
- Increasing the Utility of the Criminal History Record: Report of the National Task Force
- National Conference on Criminal History Records: Brady and Beyond, Proceedings of a BJS/SEARCH Group Conference
- See a news article about a Bureau of Justice Statistics/SEARCH National Criminal History Operations Workshop
- Have a question about NICS or background checks? Contact one of our experts now!
- Want to request technical assistance on NICS or background check issues?