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 National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Montana is not a point of contact state for NICS. Montana has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background check prior to transferring a firearm. In Montana, all firearms transfers by licensed dealers are processed directly through the FBI, which enforces the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.1

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. As a result, concealed weapons permit holders in Montana are exempt from the federal background check requirement when purchasing a firearm.2 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state firearms licenses if the state fails to remove these licenses in a timely fashion.)

For further information, see the Montana Concealed Weapons Permitting section.

Firearms transfers by private sellers (non-firearms dealers) are not subject to background checks in Montana, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions still apply. See the Montana Private Sales section.

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

Notes
  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map (last visited Aug. 2015). ⤴︎
  2. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Jun. 10, 2014), at: https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/permanent-brady-permit-chart. ⤴︎