Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Until 2005, Georgia was a “point of contact” for the NICS, and firearms dealers had to conduct the background check required by federal law through the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. In 2005, Georgia repealed that part of the law, and now all firearm transfers by licensed dealers are processed through the FBI.1 Nevertheless, Georgia law provides that all transfers or purchases of firearms conducted by an importer, manufacturer or dealer licensed pursuant to federal or Georgia law are subject to NICS.2 Georgia law also requires the Georgia Crime Information Center to provide to NICS all necessary criminal history information and wanted person records, and information concerning persons who have been involuntarily hospitalized, in order to complete a NICS check.3 State administrative regulations also now recognize that federal law requires federal firearms licensees to contact NICS before transferring a firearm.4

Federal law does not require dealers to conduct a background check if a firearm purchaser presents a state permit to purchase or possess firearms that meets certain conditions.5 As a result, concealed weapons permit holders in Georgia are exempt from the federal background check requirement.6 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or permit firearms – and pass background checks – if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.)

See the section below for information regarding the Retention of Sales / Background Check Records in Georgia.

Georgia does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See our Private Sales policy summary.

See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Ga. Code Ann. §§ 16-11-171, 16-11-172; Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 140-2-.17. ⤴︎
  2. See Ga. Code Ann. §§ 16-11-171, 16-11-172. ⤴︎
  3. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-172; see also Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 140-2-.17. ⤴︎
  4. Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 140-2-.17. ⤴︎
  5. Federal law exempts persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms from background checks if those permits were issued: 1) within the previous five years in the state in which the transfer is to take place; and 2) after an authorized government official has conducted a background investigation, including a search of the NICS database, to verify that possession of a firearm would not be unlawful. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). ⤴︎
  6. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Jun. 10, 2014), at https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/permanent-brady-permit-chart ⤴︎