28 CFR 25.9: Retention and destruction of records in the system.
(a) The NICS will retain NICS Index records that indicate that receipt of a firearm by the individuals to whom the records pertain would violate Federal or state law. The NICS will retain such records indefinitely, unless they are canceled by the originating agency. In cases where a firearms disability is not permanent, e.g., a disqualifying restraining order, the NICS will automatically purge the pertinent record when it is no longer disqualifying. Unless otherwise removed, records contained in the NCIC and III files that are accessed during a background check will remain in those files in accordance with established policy.
(b) The FBI will maintain an automated NICS Audit Log of all incoming and outgoing transactions that pass through the system.
The NICS Audit Log will record the following information: Type of transaction (inquiry or response), line number, time, date of inquiry, header, message key, ORI or FFL identifier, and inquiry/response data (including the name and other identifying information about the prospective transferee and the NTN).
(i) NICS Audit Log records relating to denied transactions will be retained for 10 years, after which time they will be transferred to a Federal Records Center for storage;
(ii) NICS Audit Log records relating to transactions in an open status, except the NTN and date, will be destroyed after not more than 90 days from the date of inquiry; and
(iii) In cases of NICS Audit Log records relating to allowed transactions, all identifying information submitted by or on behalf of the transferee will be destroyed within 24 hours after the FFL receives communication of the determination that the transfer may proceed. All other information, except the NTN and date, will be destroyed after not more than 90 days from the date of inquiry.
(2) Use of information in the NICS Audit Log.
The NICS Audit Log will be used to analyze system performance, assist users in resolving operational problems, support the appeals process, or support audits of the use and performance of the system. Searches may be conducted on the Audit Log by time frame, i.e., by day or month, or by a particular state or agency. Information in the NICS Audit Log pertaining to allowed transactions may be accessed directly only by the FBI and only for the purpose of conducting audits of the use and performance of the NICS, except that:
(i) Information in the NICS Audit Log, including information not yet destroyed under § 5.9(b)(1)(iii), that indicates, either on its face or in conjunction with other information, a violation or potential violation of law or regulation, may be shared with appropriate authorities responsible for investigating, prosecuting, and/or enforcing such law or regulation; and
(ii) The NTNs and dates for allowed transactions may be shared with ATF in Individual FFL Audit Logs as specified in § 25.9(b)(4).
(3) Limitation on use.
The NICS, including the NICS Audit Log, may not be used by any Department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to establish any system for the registration of firearms, firearm owners, or firearm transactions or dispositions, except with respect to persons prohibited from receiving a firearm by 18 U.S.C. 922(g) or (n) or by state law. The NICS Audit Log will be monitored and reviewed on a regular basis to detect any possible misuse of NICS data.
(4) Creation and Use of Individual FFL Audit Logs.
Upon written request from ATF containing the name and license number of the FFL and the proposed date of inspection of the named FFL by ATF, the FBI may extract information from the NICS Audit Log and create an Individual FFL Audit Log for transactions originating at the named FFL for a limited period of time. An Individual FFL Audit Log shall contain all information on denied transactions, and, with respect to all other transactions, only non-identifying information from the transaction. In no instance shall an Individual FFL Audit Log contain more than 60 days worth of allowed or open transaction records originating at the FFL. The FBI will provide POC states the means to provide to the FBI information that will allow the FBI to generate Individual FFL Audit Logs in connection with ATF inspections of FFLs in POC states. POC states that elect not to have the FBI generate Individual FFL Audit Logs for FFLs in their states must develop a means by which the POC will provide such Logs to ATF.
(c) The following records in the FBI-operated terminals of the NICS will be subject to the Brady Act's requirements for destruction:
(1) All inquiry and response messages (regardless of media) relating to a background check that results in an allowed transfer; and
(2) All information (regardless of media) contained in the NICS Audit Log relating to a background check that results in an allowed transfer.
(d) The following records of state and local law enforcement units serving as POCs will be subject to the Brady Act's requirements for destruction:
(1) All inquiry and response messages (regardless of media) relating to the initiation and result of a check of the NICS that allows a transfer that are not part of a record system created and maintained pursuant to independent state law regarding firearms transactions; and
(2) All other records relating to the person or the transfer created as a result of a NICS check that are not part of a record system created and maintained pursuant to independent state law regarding firearms transactions.
[Order No. 2186-98, 63 FR 58307, Oct. 30, 1998, as amended by Order No. 2354-2001, 66 FR 6474, Jan. 22, 2001; Order No. 2727-2004, 69 FR 43900, July 23, 2004]