Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe posted a video Thursday, in which he was purportedly denied the right to purchase a firearm due to an erroneous entry in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) system. The interactions led O’Keefe to file a lawsuit against the FBI in order to have his name removed from the registry.
In the video, O’Keefe can be seen attempting to purchase firearms from multiple locations, each of which rejects him because his background check comes back “denied.” O’Keefe and the salesmen then have conversations about whether O’Keefe is being retaliated against because of his journalism.
According to O’Keefe, his entry on the NICS system is erroneous because he has never been “convicted” of a felony. There are, however, a number of other reasons that a person might fail an NICS background check. For instance, many states can include their own disqualifiers for NICS checks, and those might be more stringent. Additionally, anyone who has been convicted of a misdemeanor that is punishable by more than two years in prison (even if the person did not actually serve two years) can disqualify a person from purchasing a firearm.
Of note, O’Keefe was charged with a felony of entering federal property under false pretenses for his actions related to an attempted sting operation against former Senator Mary Landrieu. They ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of entering a federal building under false pretenses. He was ordered to pay a fine and serve two years of probation. That charge, however, carried a maximum jail sentence of six months. However, it is within the realm of possibility that some states may bar persons who were charged with felonies but pled down to misdemeanors from owning a firearm. Additionally, it is possible that O’Keefe’s name was entered into the NICS database when he was charged, but never removed when the plea was actually entered.
A phone call to the FBI requesting comment was not immediately returned.