Firearm Denial North Dakota

Federal Remedy For Erroneous Firearm Denials

April 02, 2024

Contributor: Adam Justinger


Have you ever been wrongfully denied when attempting to purchase a firearm? In one of our past blogs, we discussed how you can challenge an erroneous denial. If your challenge is successful, you can apply for a Voluntary Appeal File (VAF) and Unique Person Identification Number (UPIN). You can read more about this topic in another one of our blogs. But what happens if your challenge is unsuccessful? Is there anything else that can be done or is all hope lost? The good news is that there is a remedy for people who are erroneously denied.

The Law

Under federal law, if an individual is denied a firearm they may bring a federal action. This action is taken against the State or political subdivision responsible for providing the erroneous information or denying the transfer. The action can also be brought against the United States. Because this is a federal civil action, the case must be litigated in federal court.

In order to bring a claim, there must be erroneous information relating to a person by any State or political subdivision or by the national instant criminal background check system (NICS). Alternatively, a claim can be brought if a person is not prohibited from receiving the firearm. The purpose of the claim is to obtain an order from the court directing that the erroneous information be corrected or the wrongfully denied transfer be approved. 

The Action

To bring an action under 18 U.S.C. § 925A, an individual must file a complaint with the court. This complaint must be served on the opposing party, which in many instances is the United States. The defendant then has to file an answer to the complaint. In some situations, settlement may be possible, which can expedite this process. However, in others, there may have to be a trial on the issue to determine if someone is truly prohibited from possessing a firearm. If this is the case, you can likely anticipate waiting at least a year before a trial occurs. Having an experienced attorney is key when trying to navigate these complex federal firearm actions.

Orders And Attorney’s Fees

So, can I get anything if I win my federal action after a trial? Yes. First, if successful, you can get a court order that indicates that the erroneous information must be corrected or that the transfer must be approved. Additionally, if you are successful, the court, in its discretion, may award attorney’s fees as part of the costs. After winning or settling your federal case, you will likely be able to obtain a VAF/UPIN to avoid erroneous denials from occurring in the future.

In Conclusion

North Dakota and federal firearm laws are extremely complex. It is important to have an experienced attorney in this area of the law to assist you with these matters. For help with firearm matters in North Dakota please contact SW&L Attorneys at 701-297-2890. For future articles, check out our blog. This article is for informational purposes only and is subject to our disclaimer.