Tennesseans looking to buy an assault rifle can purchase such a weapon in many cases in less than half an hour.
As more mass shootings have triggered talks of increased U.S. gun control, obtaining a firearm is relatively simple in Tennessee, one of 40 states with no waiting period, according to the Giffords Law Center which monitors gun policy.
“It takes about 15 minutes,” said Jonathan Stubblefield, owner of Belk Grocery and Sporting Goods in DeKalb County when asked about the gun background check. “It goes to the FBI database and if there’s anything out of line, it will get flagged. If not, you’re good.”
Stubblefield said he has been forced to deny many gun purchases because the background check came back with a red flag. Convicted felons, a person with a domestic violence conviction, or a person who has been admitted to a mental institution all fall into the category of people who can be denied a gun purchase.
“When you fill out one of these forms, you’re not fooling anybody,” said Stubblefield, indicating some people are not completely honest with their answers. “They’ll go back and find it if it’s there.”
There is no federal waiting period to buy any type of firearm, from handgun to assault rifle. Under the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a gun dealer may sell a firearm to a buyer as soon as he or she passes a background check.
Ten states and the District of Columbia have waiting periods, often called cooling off periods, before a buyer can take possession of a firearm. Hawaii has the longest waiting period of 14 days. California and the District of Columbia have 10-day waiting periods.
“The background check is good, but it can’t read intent,” said Stubblefield. “The background check just looks at your history. If you’ve never done anything wrong, you won’t be flagged.”