Guns are a hugely emotive issue in the USA. On one side of the issue, guns are an essential tool and a fundamental right in warding off tyranny and oppression. On the other side, guns are a cause of hurt, national shame, and death on a widespread scale. And then, there’s everyone in the middle who may feel a mix of these opinions to be true. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus between lawmakers on regulating the sale and use of firearms anywhere on the horizon.
With federal and state laws in turmoil and often contradicting one another, it can be difficult to know just who may and may not own a gun (or at least what type of weapon they are legally permitted to possess). Nevertheless, this is a hot question in many situations. Perhaps you are worried about someone in your neighborhood who has been harassing you, your family, or your friends. Maybe there is someone in your office or school whose behavior towards you is a cause for concern.
Whatever the reason, there is a simple way to find the truth: run a background check on them. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about running a gun background check, then recommend the best background checking sites to run one.
Why Run a Gun Background Check?
Background checks are part of the USA’s national gun licensing system. Whenever anyone applies for permission to own a firearm, the FBI will run a background check on them to ensure that they are a fit person to be licensed to own a firearm. This check will cover such things as whether a person has a history of violence, a criminal record, or a record of mental health issues.
While some sort of background check is certainly better than none, the FBI’s background check is far from 100% effective. Their system screens for clear indicators that a person might be dangerous if handed a weapon. But, it does not pick up on the huge number of indicators that can suggest that someone with no prior record poses a threat.
The most recent example of this is Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year old who killed 17 children at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in February of this year. Cruz passed the FBI’s background check and was permitted to own the AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle he used for the shooting. This is despite numerous online postings and behavioral traits which suggested he posed a potential threat.
It is difficult for anyone to know that Cruz was licensed to own such a weapon, and many Americans may have concerns about other people in their communities. But it is not just the FBI who can run background checks. Background checking sites allow anyone to run a background check on someone they have concerns about. It can be a vital tool to find out a whole host of information about a potential threat.
There are a number of pieces of information a background check can reveal that relate to the ownership of guns, as well as the risk someone with a gun might present. Of course, some things that the FBI can access are not available to the general public, like medical records, but the majority of relevant information they would look at is openly available. That means you can run gun-related background check to uncover data like:
A background check can reveal details of a person’s criminal records. This means that if someone has a previous history of gun offenses or any kind of violent crime, a background check will tell you. Many providers will also reveal court documents too. This means you can see the details of crimes someone has been charged with too, even if they were ultimately not convicted.
A background check can also tell you what licenses a person holds. This includes gun licenses. It is therefore possible to use a background check to find out if someone is licensed to own a gun, as well as to learn about what weapons they are permitted to possess. Any additional notes related to the license, such as additional training or breaches of license conditions, should also be available.
A background check will reveal the full dossier of anyone who has served in the armed forces. As a result, it is possible to discover whether a person has been trained to use firearms professionally, well as any experience of using them in combat. Other military factors of interest might include the reasons why someone left the armed forces, and whether they have suffered PTSD or any other effects as a result of active service.
The motivation behind many of the USA’s worst gun-related atrocities are personal, so having an insight into someone’s personal situation can be useful in helping to determine how much of a risk they might pose. A background check can’t tell you everything here, but it can reveal things like whether someone has gone through a recent divorce or bereavement, which could trigger erratic behavior.
Money worries can also be a factor in some gun crimes. Running a check can tell you whether someone has experienced financial problems, lost a business or property, been declared bankrupt, and much more besides.
Online and Social Media Data
This information can be crucial for gaining an insight into a subject’s mental well-being and behavior. It is one thing that the FBI does not look at and, in the case of Nikolas Cruz this proved to be costly. A background check can reveal where a person holds social media accounts and tell you things like what groups they are a member of, what their interests are, and the type of comments they are making online. This information can be invaluable when trying to gauge whether someone poses a potential threat or not.
What Is the Company to Run a Gun Background Check?
There’s certainly no lack of choice; the background checking market is flooded with all types of companies. Each will claim to be the best around, but the reality is that there is a big difference between the levels of service they provide.
On an issue as important as this one, it is important to pick a site which you can trust to deliver fast and accurate information. Combining our own experience with user feedback, we’ve come up with a list of critical criteria you can use in separating the wheat from the chaff:
- Thorough Research – With a subject as sensitive as gun violence, you want to make sure you have as complete a picture of your search subject as possible. The best companies offer wide-ranging, deep-penetrating research services.
- Accurate Reports – Equally important as depth of information is accuracy. After all, do you really want to make a decision based on a faulty report? Go for a background checking site that has a proven track record.
- Fast Results – Gun background checks are often urgent, so many users are looking for fast results. Response times from sites can vary, but the best sites can deliver you basic results in a few minutes, as well as fully detailed reports in no more than a few days.
- Search Customization – What you know about your subject may not amount to much, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want results. The best sites can usually deliver useful results based on even a minimal amount of starting information.
- Usable Dashboard – The dashboard is where you will manage your searches and results, so it needs to be easy to use and well-designed.
- Mobile Apps – With ever-greater numbers of people connecting to the internet primarily through their mobile device, dedicated iOS and Android apps are becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity. The best sites maintain software for one or both platforms.
- Good Customer Support – If you encounter a problem with your search or have questions about the information found, you want to know there is a reliable and accessible customer support service there to help.
Using these criteria, we have selected the four top background checking sites on the market. If you’re looking for info on a person’s history with guns, violence, or crime, each service offers a strong chance to gain a valuable insight into your search subject.
When you’re searching for sensitive information, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better background checking site than BeenVerified. Regardless which of their two pricing tiers you choose, you’ll rest assured knowing that your final search report is complete, concise, and accurate. A basic search covers criminal records, financial records, social media presence, and a wealth of other personal information. If you’re looking to run a check on someone’s background with guns, you’ll want to upgrade to the premium service. This expands your search directly to weapons licenses and permits, and also reveals any debts and court judgements. Physical records can even be fetched by a runner sent by BeenVerified to the archive premises.
Your search will culminate in a final report, which is designed (quite successfully) to guide the reader’s eye seamlessly through the wealth of results. In addition to valuable insight, this document offers peace of mind to your gun background check. After all, BeenVerified has a proven track record on the relative accuracy and completeness of its findings. Android and iOS users have a lot to be happy about here, as there are dedicated mobile apps for both platforms in addition to their slick online dashboard. Finally, customer support is readily reachable by email or phone at extended hours.
The need to run a gun background check often arises from serious situations, and TruthFinder is well-positioned to deliver the results you need, fast. While their premium service does indeed recover records detailing any weapons licenses held, that information only tells you that a person may carry a gun, rather that what they might do with it. TruthFinder zooms out to look at the bigger picture of someone’s online presence, digging through social media activity going years back, as well as deep-web (non-indexed) archives. When taken together with their other biographical details, you’ll gain a clearer idea of how dangerous your search subject may or may not be.
Of course, TruthFinder is idea for any sort of background check. Even their basic service offers a look into criminal records, financial records, contact details, and more. All users are treated to the same seamless interface, featuring a streamlined online dashboard as well as an Android app for managing your searches on the go. If you ever run into trouble, customer assistance is just one toll-free call away, any time of day.
3. Instant CheckMate
Instant CheckMate is another site which offers a service tailor-made for gun background checks. Their comprehensive research service is available in two tiers. At their basic rate, you will receive information on things like criminal records, marriage and divorce records, details of relatives, address history, and social media data. For things like weapons licenses, financial history, and driving records, you will need to pay a little more for their premium service. Taken together, these data sets should construct a compelling image of your search subject.
While CheckMate sifts through an enormous array of data, the final reports always manage to convey the most pertinent information in an easy-to-understand way. Managing your searches and their results is handily accomplished via their sleek online dashboard (or their Android app). Customer support is responsive and diligent, and what’s more is available 24/7. When you’re looking for speed, accuracy, and depth in your gun background check, Instant CheckMate is a solid service choice.
Last but by no means least on our list of recommendations is Intelius. Checking someone’s background with guns goes beyond weapons licenses held to consider an entire constellation of data points, including criminal records, sex offender registrations, financial history, property records and education. Intelius will gather the most relevant data into a single comprehensive report, and make it read logically and clearly so you can interpret your results instantly.
With over 50 million successful background checks under their belts, Intelius clearly has its fans. It makes sense too, since the customer experience has clearly received great consideration and thought. This shows in the clean layout of their online dashboard, which makes it a breeze to manage your searches, as well as the two official Intelius apps available to both Android and iOS devices. Customer service is best handled through their online troubleshooting tool, though there is assistance available by email or phone.
Can I Use Free Background Checking Services?
Upon reading our recommendations, you may wonder why we chose to exclude free background checking services. That’s because free sites have a tendency to waste your time at best, or compromise your security at worst. At one end of this spectrum, you might get search results that are little better than a cursory Google search, while being blinded by ads throughout the process. What’s more, there’s usually little-to-no effort made to ensure quality or accuracy of findings made by free sites. Whether you’re seeking out lost family or old friends, or you’re running a check on a more serious issue like a person’s history with guns, you don’t want to be left wondering if you have the right information.
Free background checking sites can carry much bigger risks than just inaccurate information, as well. The growing popularity of background checking has made the industry a target for hackers. Unscrupulous individuals or companies will often appear to offer free services to lure customers in with the intention of harvesting your data or even planting malware on your device, rather than finding the information you need.
In our experience, free background checking sites are usually really not worth taking the risk on. The best subscription sites don’t cost more than a few dollars a month to use and for the level of service and depth of information they offer, that really does represent excellent value for money.
Running a gun background check can reveal a great deal about a subject. The final search report will yield a deeper insight into whether this person is likely to possess a firearm, and may even indicate how they behave with said armament. Of course, not all background checking services are created equal, with some representing incredible value for money, and others posing a threat to your security.
Our top four recommended sites have proven track records of helping their clients find the information they need. With your subscription, you not only get in-depth research, but you gain peace of mind knowing the results are as accurate and relevant as possible.
Have you ever run a gun background check on someone? What sort of information did you find out? Was there anything that particularly shocked you? We always welcome feedback from all our readers, so why not share your thoughts with us using the comment box below?