According to a federal law passed after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, states are to provide to the U.S. Attorney General estimates of certain categories of available court records covering the previous 20 years.
The records, included in one of three databases maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Instant Criminal Background Check System, are meant to help identify individuals who are prohibited from buying or possessing a firearm according to federal law.
The database includes records related to:
• Felony convictions and criminal histories (convictions, under indictment, court filings, criminal complaint issued or verified by a prosecutor, etc.).
• Misdemeanor convictions and criminal histories (convictions for misdemeanors punishable by imprisonment of longer than two years, under indictment, court filings, criminal complaint issued or verified by a prosecutor, etc.).
• Domestic violence (records that may identify a person convicted of misdemeanor offenses such as battery, assault, disorderly conduct, breach of peace, family violence/domestic violence, family assault or battery/domestic assault or battery, stalking, harassment).
• Warrants (active misdemeanor or felony).
• Court orders (issued by a criminal court or any civil court, such as a divorce court, family court, magistrate or general jurisdiction court which restrains a person from committing acts of violence against another person including protection or restraining orders).