Background Checks in Alabama

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

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.)

Alabama is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Alabama law simply reiterates the federal requirement that firearms dealers must initiate background checks through NICS prior to transferring firearms.1 As a result, in Alabama, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.2 Alabama law also independently requires licensed handgun dealers to view a purchaser’s identification before transferring a handgun.3 To the extent possible, all information from any state or local government agency that is necessary to complete a NICS check must be provided to the Criminal Justice Information Center.4

Alabama does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See the Alabama Private Sales section.

Notes
  1. Ala. Code § 41-9-649. ⤴︎
  2. 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. ⤴︎
  3. Ala. Code § 13A-11-79. ⤴︎
  4. Ala. Code § 41-9-649. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Alaska

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

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.)

Alaska is not a point of contact state for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Alaska has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Alaska, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.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.2 As a result, holders of concealed weapons permits marked NICS-Exempt in Alaska are exempt from the federal background check requirement.3 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or permit firearms if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.)

Alaska 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 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. ⤴︎
  2. 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). ⤴︎
  3. 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. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Arizona

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.)

Arizona is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Arizona has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Arizona firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.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.2 As a result, concealed weapon permit holders in Arizona are exempt from the federal background check requirement when purchasing a handgun.3 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or permit firearms if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.)

Arizona does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See Private Sales Policy Summary.

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. ⤴︎
  2. 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). ⤴︎
  3. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart at: https://www.atf.gov/content/firearms/firearms-industry/permanent-brady-permit-chart. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Arkansas

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

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.)

Arkansas is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Arkansas has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Arkansas, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.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.2 As a result, concealed weapon permit holders in Arkansas are exempt from the federal background check requirement when purchasing a handgun.3 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or permit firearms if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.)

Arkansas 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 for more information.

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. ⤴︎
  2. 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). ⤴︎
  3. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart at: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/brady-law/permit-chart.html. ⤴︎

Background Checks in California

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

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. This background check is intended to determine whether the purchaser falls into one of the categories of persons prohibited by law from purchasing or possessing firearms. 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.

Prior to passage of Proposition 63 in 2016, California authorized, but did not require, the California Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to act as a point of contact for firearm background checks.1 Effective July 1, 2017, Proposition 63 will require DOJ to continue to serve as the point of contact for firearm purchaser background checks. Firearms dealers must therefore initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the California DOJ.

California law requires any prospective purchaser of (or transferee or person being loaned) a firearm to submit an application to purchase the firearm (also known as a “Dealer Record of Sale” or “DROS” form) through a licensed dealer to DOJ. The dealer must submit firearm purchaser information to DOJ on the date of the application through electronic transfer, unless DOJ makes an exception allowing a different format.2 The purchaser must present “clear evidence” of his or her identity and age to the dealer (either a valid California driver’s license or a valid California identification card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles).3 Dealers must obtain the purchaser’s name, date of birth, and driver’s license or identification number electronically from the magnetic strip on the license or ID card.4 This information cannot be supplied by any other means except as authorized by DOJ.5 Once this information is submitted, DOJ will check available and authorized records, including the federal NICS database, in order to determine whether the person is prohibited from possessing, receiving, owning, or purchasing a firearm by state or federal law.6

In addition to checking the federal NICS database, DOJ is required to examine its own records, as well as those records that it is authorized to request from the State Department of State Hospitals.7 If the person is prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law, DOJ must immediately notify the dealer and the local sheriff or chief of police in the city and/or county where the sale was made.8  Licensed dealers are prohibited from delivering a firearm to a purchaser or transferee if the dealer has been notified by DOJ that the person is prohibited from possessing firearms.9 If the person is prohibited from possessing firearms, the dealer must make available to the prohibited person a DOJ “Prohibited Notice and Transfer” form, stating that the person is prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm and that the person may obtain from DOJ the reason for the prohibition.10

When a purchaser or transferee is specifically seeking to obtain a handgun, he or she must present documentation indicating California residency. Sufficient documentation includes a utility bill from within the last three months, a residential lease, a property deed, military permanent duty station orders indicating assignment within California, or other evidence of residency as permitted by DOJ.11

In addition to California’s mandatory ten-day waiting period,12 DOJ must also tell the dealer to delay the transfer of the firearm to the purchaser if DOJ is unable to determine, in any of the following scenarios, whether the purchaser is a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm: 1) the purchaser has been taken into custody and placed in a facility for mental health treatment or evaluation and may be a danger to self or others; 2) the purchaser has been arrested or charged with a crime that, if convicted, would make the person prohibited from possessing a firearm; or 3) the person may be attempting to purchase more than one firearm within a 30-day period.13 If DOJ is unable to obtain a final disposition under any of these scenarios within 30 days of the original submission of the purchaser’s information by the dealer, then DOJ must notify the dealer and the dealer may then, at the dealer’s discretion, transfer the firearm to the purchaser.14

Note that holders of a California entertainment firearms permit are exempt from the requirement of a background check, due to a loophole in federal law. For further information, see the Licensing of Gun Owners and Purchasers in California section.

Voluntary background checks: Any person may request a voluntary determination, called a “firearms eligibility check,” from DOJ, stating whether he or she is eligible to possess a firearm.15 With few exceptions, no person or agency may require or request another person to obtain a firearms eligibility check.16 DOJ is authorized to charge a fee of $20 for conducting each check.17

Firearms in police custody: Any person claiming title to any firearm in the custody or control of a court or law enforcement agency who wishes to have the firearm returned must undergo a background check to determine if he or she is eligible to possess a firearm.18 If an individual does not seek return of a firearm, or if he or she fails to pass the background check, the person must relinquish the firearm and, if the firearm is an otherwise legal firearm and the person otherwise has the right to title of the firearm, he or she may relinquish it by selling it or transferring title to a licensed dealer.19

Private sales: With limited exceptions, all firearms transfers must be conducted through a licensed dealer.20 For more information, see the Private Sales in California section.

Notes
  1. Cal. Penal Code § 28220(b). ⤴︎
  2. Cal. Penal Code § 28205. ⤴︎
  3. Cal. Penal Code §§ 16400, 26815, 28215. Note that dealers are prohibited from transferring handguns to persons under age 21, or any other firearm to persons under the age of 18. Cal. Penal Code § 27510. ⤴︎
  4. Cal. Penal Code § 28180. ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. Cal. Penal Code § 28220(a). ⤴︎
  7. Cal. Penal Code § 28220(a). ⤴︎
  8. Cal. Penal Code § 28220(c). ⤴︎
  9. Cal. Penal Code § 26815(d). ⤴︎
  10. Id. ⤴︎
  11. Cal. Penal Code § 26845. ⤴︎
  12. Cal. Penal Code §§ 26815(a), 27540(a). ⤴︎
  13. Cal. Penal Code § 28220(f)(1)(A). If this occurs, the dealer must then provide the purchaser with information about the manner in which the purchaser may contact DOJ regarding this delay. Cal. Penal Code § 28220(f)(1)(B). ⤴︎
  14. Cal. Penal Code § 28220(f)(4). If DOJ is able to ascertain a final disposition within 30 days, then it must either notify the dealer that the purchase may immediately go through, or it must notify the dealer and local law enforcement that the person is prohibited from possessing a firearm, depending on the final result. Cal. Penal Code § 28220(f)(3). ⤴︎
  15. Cal. Penal Code § 30105. ⤴︎
  16. Cal. Penal Code § 30105(h). ⤴︎
  17. Cal. Penal Code § 30105(b). ⤴︎
  18. Cal. Penal Code § 33850. ⤴︎
  19. Cal. Penal Code §§ 33850(b), 33870(a). ⤴︎
  20. See Cal. Penal Code § 27545 et seq. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Colorado

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

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.)

Colorado is a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks.1 In Colorado, all firearm transfers by licensed dealers are processed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which enforces federal, as well as state, purchaser prohibitions.2

Colorado requires CBI to transmit a request for a background check in connection with the prospective transfer of a firearm to the NICS system and authorizes CBI to search other databases. CBI must deny a transfer of a firearm to a prospective transferee if the transfer would violate federal or state law.3

Colorado denies a prospective firearm purchaser’s application if the background check cannot be completed within the three-day default period. More specifically, Colorado law provides that an application for a firearm purchase must be denied in cases in which there has been no final disposition or the final disposition is not noted in the NICS or state databases, where the applicant:  1) has been arrested for or charged with a crime that would prohibit him or her from purchasing, receiving or possessing a firearm under state or federal law; or 2) is the subject of an indictment, an information, or a felony complaint alleging that the prospective transferee has committed a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.4 However, whenever a person is denied, he or she may request a review of the denial, and “the inability of the bureau to obtain the final disposition of a case that is no longer pending shall not constitute the basis for the continued denial of the transfer.”5

Colorado law explicitly provides access to juvenile delinquency court and probation records for firearm background check purposes.6 Colorado law also provides procedures for appeal of a denial of a firearm transfer.7

CBI must adopt rules to carry out these duties.8 CBI must also charge a fee for performing a background check.  The funds that are collected pursuant to this provision are subject to annual appropriation by the General Assembly for the direct costs associated with performing background checks.9

Colorado requires unlicensed sellers (sellers who are not federally licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See Universal Background Checks in Colorado for further information.  Also see our Universal Background Checks policy summary for related information.

Notes
  1. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(2). 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 and https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/permanent-brady-state-lists. ⤴︎
  2. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(2). ⤴︎
  3. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(3)(a). ⤴︎
  4. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(3)(b). ⤴︎
  5. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(5)(c). ⤴︎
  6. Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 19-1-304(1)(a)(VII.5), (1)(c)(II.5), (2)(a)(II.5). ⤴︎
  7. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(5). ⤴︎
  8. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(7). See 8 Colo. Code Regs. § 1507-20. ⤴︎
  9. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(3.5). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Connecticut

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.)

Connecticut is a point-of-contact state for NICS. In Connecticut, all firearms transfers by licensed dealers are processed through the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (“DESPP”).1

In Connecticut, a person, firm or corporation who seeks to sell a long gun at retail or a handgun (whether a licensed dealer or private seller) must:

  • Have the transferee complete a written application and retain the application for at least 20 years or until he or she goes out of business;
  • Make the application available for inspection during normal business hours by law enforcement;
  • Transfer only to a transferee he or she knows personally or who presents appropriate identification (handguns only);
  • Obtain an authorization number from DESPP; and
  • Wait two weeks from the date of application before transferring the firearm (long guns only, until April 1, 2014).2

DESPP must make reasonable “effort,” including a search of NICS, to determine if the applicant is eligible to receive a firearm.3

Private (unlicensed) individuals may not purchase or receive a firearm unless such person holds a: 1) permit to carry a pistol or revolver; 2) eligibility certificate for a pistol or revolver; 3) permit to sell at retail a pistol or revolver; or 4) long gun eligibility certificate.  These permits are issued following a background check by DESPP on the applicant.4 See the Private Sales in Connecticut section.

Prior to the transfer of any firearm at a gun show, the transferee must undergo a background check.5 See the Gun Shows in Connecticut section for more information.

To obtain an ammunition certificate, allowing a person to purchase ammunition in Connecticut, a person must request this certificate from the DESPP commissioner.6 After conducting the criminal history records check of the person using only their name and date of birth, the commissioner must issue the ammunition certificate unless the person is ineligible for a long gun eligibility certificate.7

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

Notes
  1. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-36l(d)(1). See also 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 July 8, 2013). ⤴︎
  2. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 29-33(a), (c), 29-37a(d). ⤴︎
  3. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 29-33(c), 29-37a(d). ⤴︎
  4. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 29-28(b), 29-36f, 29-36g, 29-38g, 29-38h. ⤴︎
  5. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-37g(c). ⤴︎
  6. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-38l(a). ⤴︎
  7. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-38l(b). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Delaware

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

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on a prospective 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.)

Delaware is not a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks. In Delaware, all firearms transfers by licensed dealers are processed directly through the FBI, which enforces the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.1 Delaware law provides that a licensed firearms dealer may not sell, transfer or deliver any firearm to another unlicensed person until the dealer has conducted a background check.2 Generally, the transfer may only be completed if the licensed dealer is informed by the FBI NICS Section that it may “proceed,” however, if 25 days elapse from the time the background check is requested by the licensed dealer, and the FBI still has not issued a denial, then the transfer may proceed.3 Delaware requires unlicensed sellers to request a licensed dealer to facilitate a firearms transaction, including conducting a background check, prior to transferring a firearm to another unlicensed person.4

Delaware also requires the following agencies or entities to submit to the NICS system clinical mental health and other information to comply with federal laws relating to the purchase or transfer of firearms:

  • The Delaware Psychiatric Center and any other hospital as defined in Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5001(4). Such information shall include only names and other nonclinical identifying information of persons so committed;5
  • Hospitals and residential centers;6
  • Institutions to which individuals are committed for criminal convictions, declarations of not guilty by reason of mental illness, or declarations of incompetency to stand trial for criminal offenses, or for involuntarily commitments for mental illness;7 and
  • The Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.8
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 Oct. 3, 2014). ⤴︎
  2. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448A(a), (g). ⤴︎
  3. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448A(b). ⤴︎
  4. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(a). ⤴︎
  5. Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5161(b)(14). ⤴︎
  6. Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5161(b)(13)(g). ⤴︎
  7. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 8509 ⤴︎
  8. Del. Code Ann. tit. 29, § 9017(c). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Florida

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

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.)

Florida is a point of contact state for the NICS. As a result, firearms dealers in Florida must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).1 More specifically, Florida law prohibits a licensed dealer from selling or delivering a firearm from his or her inventory at his or her licensed premises to anyone except a licensed dealer, importer, or manufacturer, without:

  • Obtaining a completed form from the buyer or transferee, and inspecting proper photographic identification;
  • Calling the FDLE and requesting a check of “the information as reported and reflected in the Florida Crime Information Center and National Crime Information Center systems as of the date of the request;” and
  • Receiving a unique approval number from FDLE and recording that number and the date on the form.2

Upon receiving a request for a background check, the FDLE is required to review any available records to determine if the buyer or transferee is prohibited from purchasing a firearm because he or she has been:

  • Convicted of a felony;
  • Convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; or
  • “Adjudicated mentally defective” or “committed to a mental institution” by a court.3

Florida law provides definitions of the terms “adjudicated mentally defective” and “committed to a mental institution.” Most individuals in these categories are prohibited by federal law from possessing or purchasing firearms.4 Persons involuntarily committed for outpatient treatment are included within the definition of “committed to a mental institution.”5

In 2013, Florida enacted a law that includes a person taken into custody involuntarily for a mental health evaluation and subsequently voluntarily admitted to a mental institution for outpatient or inpatient treatment in the definition of  “committed to a mental institution” if:  (1) an examining physician has determined that the person poses an imminent danger to himself, herself, or others and has certified that he or she would have filed a petition for involuntary commitment if the person had not agreed to voluntary treatment; (2) the person has been given notice and an opportunity to contest this certification; and (3) a court has reviewed this certification and ordered the person’s record to be submitted.6

For information about the restoration of firearm eligibility for persons previously adjudicated mentally defective or committed to a mental institution, please see the Florida Mental Health Reporting section.

In addition, the FDLE must review available records to determine if the buyer or transferee has had adjudication of guilt withheld or imposition of sentence suspended on any felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence unless three years have elapsed since probation or any other conditions set by the court have been fulfilled or expunction has occurred.7 If any of these disqualifying conditions exist, the FDLE must inform the dealer that the buyer or transferee is prohibited from purchasing a firearm and must provide the licensee a nonapproval number.8

The FDLE must also review available records and issue a conditional nonapproval number if the buyer or transferee:

  • Has been indicted or has had an information filed against her or him for a felony;
  • Is subject to a domestic violence protective order, or an injunction against repeat violence; or
  • Has been arrested for one of 22 enumerated “dangerous crime[s]” or for criminal anarchy, extortion, certain explosives violations, certain controlled substances violations, resisting an officer with violence, certain weapons and firearms violations, treason, assisting self-murder, sabotage, stalking or aggravated stalking.9

The FDLE then has 24 “working hours” (3 business days) in which to determine the disposition of the indictment, information, or arrest and inform the dealer as to whether the potential buyer is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm.10 Florida law requires the clerk of court to respond to an FDLE request for data on the disposition of the indictment, information, or arrest as soon as possible, but in no event later than 8 working hours.11 FDLE must continue its attempts to obtain the disposition information and may retain a record of all approval numbers granted without sufficient disposition information.12 If FDLE later obtains disposition information indicating that the person is prohibited from possessing a firearm, FDLE must revoke the conditional approval number and notify law enforcement.13 During the time that disposition of the indictment, information, or arrest is pending, the conditional nonapproval number remains in effect.14

Neither federal nor Florida law requires private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm.

See our Private Sales policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

In addition, Florida specifically exempts concealed weapons license holders from the state’s background check requirement.15 However, Florida concealed weapons license holders are not exempt from the federal background check requirement.16

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 Jul. 08, 2015). ⤴︎
  2. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(1). Under Fla. Stat. § 790.065(10), a licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer is not required to comply with the background check requirements of Fla. Stat. § 790.065 in the event of unavailability of telephone service at the licensed premises, or failure of FDLE to comply with the requirements of Florida law pertaining to firearm purchaser background checks. ⤴︎
  3. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2). ⤴︎
  4. See Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(a)(4)(a), (b). ⤴︎
  5. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(a)(4)(a). ⤴︎
  6. See Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(a)(4)(b)(II). ⤴︎
  7. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(a). ⤴︎
  8. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(b). ⤴︎
  9. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(1). ⤴︎
  10. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(2). ⤴︎
  11. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(3). ⤴︎
  12. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(7). ⤴︎
  13. Id. ⤴︎
  14. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(8). ⤴︎
  15. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(1)(b). ⤴︎
  16. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Aug. 26, 2011), at: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/brady-law/permit-chart.html. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Georgia

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 ⤴︎

Background Checks in Hawaii

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.)

Hawaii is a point of contact state for NICS. In Hawaii, permits to acquire firearms are processed by local law enforcement.1

In Hawaii, anyone wishing to acquire a firearm must first obtain a permit.2 A permit to acquire a handgun must be obtained for each handgun purchase and the permit is void if not used within ten days of issuance.3 A permit to acquire a long gun entitles the permittee to purchase long guns for a period of one year from the date of issue.4 Permit applications are processed directly through the county police chief, who must perform a search of NICS.5

An applicant for a permit must sign a waiver authorizing the disclosure of mental health records.6 Hawaii requires any public health provider to disclose mental health records if the local chief of police requests them for use in issuing a permit to acquire a firearm, provided the applicant has signed the required waiver.7

Under federal law, persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms are exempt 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.8 Holders of concealed weapons licenses and permits to acquire firearms in Hawaii are exempt from background checks when purchasing a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the federal Brady Act. Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination is subject to change without notice.

Additionally, every person arriving in Hawaii who brings or causes to be brought a firearm into Hawaii must register the firearm with the chief of police of the county of the person’s place of business or, if there is no place of business, the person’s residence or, if there is neither a place of business nor residence, the person’s place of sojourn.9 When registering their firearm, such persons must be fingerprinted and photographed by the police department of the county of registration, although this requirement shall be waived where fingerprints and photographs are already on file with the police department.10 The police department must perform an inquiry on the person by using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System before any determination to register a firearm is made.11

Firearm transfers by private sellers (non-firearms dealers) are subject to the state’s permitting requirement. See the Hawaii 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. 24, 2015). ⤴︎
  2. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(a). ⤴︎
  3. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(e). ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(c). ⤴︎
  7. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-3.5. ⤴︎
  8. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). ⤴︎
  9. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-3(a). ⤴︎
  10. Id. ⤴︎
  11. Id. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Idaho

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.)

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

Brady Exemption:  Under federal law, persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms are exempt 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.2 Holders of concealed weapons licenses in Idaho are exempt from background checks when purchasing a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the federal Brady Act. Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination is subject to change without notice.

Firearms transfers by private sellers (non-firearms dealers) are not subject to background checks in Idaho, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions still apply. See the Idaho 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 Sept. 8, 2015). ⤴︎
  2. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Illinois

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

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.)

Illinois is a point of contact state for the NICS.1 Federally licensed firearms dealers must contact the Illinois Department of State Police (“DSP”) for a background check before transferring any firearm.2 The DSP searches its criminal history record information files, the FBI and NICS databases, and the files of the Department of Human Services relating to mental health and developmental disabilities to verify that prospective purchasers are not prohibited from possessing a firearm.3 The DSP must approve the transfer or inform the dealer of the applicant’s ineligibility within the waiting periods set forth by state law, which are 24 hours for long guns and 72 hours for handguns.4

Illinois requires DSP to report to local law enforcement the name and address of a person attempting to purchase a firearm who is disqualified from doing so.5

Except at gun shows (see the Gun Shows in Illinois section for more information on background check requirements at gun shows), private firearms sellers (i.e., persons who are not federally licensed) are not required to conduct background checks in Illinois, but all sellers must be presented with a prospective purchaser’s Firearm Owner’s Identification card.6 With certain limited exceptions, any private seller of a firearm who seeks to transfer a firearm to any unlicensed purchaser must, prior to transfer, contact the Department of State Police (DSP) with the transferee’s Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card number to determine the validity of the transferee’s FOID Card.7 Federal and state purchaser prohibitions also apply to private firearms transfers.

See our Private Sales policy summary for more on 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. ⤴︎
  2. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.1. ⤴︎
  3. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.1. ⤴︎
  4. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.1; 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(g). ⤴︎
  5. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.3. ⤴︎
  6. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a). ⤴︎
  7. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-10). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Indiana

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.)

Indiana is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Indiana law explicitly requires dealers to conduct a background check prior to transferring a handgun, by contacting the FBI directly.1 Although Indiana has no law explicitly requiring firearms dealers to initiate a background check prior to transferring a long gun, the federal law requires dealers to initiate a background check prior to the transfer of any kind of gun by contacting the FBI directly.2

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

Indiana 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.

Notes
  1. Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-2.5-4(a). ⤴︎
  2. 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. 25, 2015). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Iowa

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.)

Iowa is a partial point of contact state for NICS. The county sheriffs and the Iowa Department of Public Safety (IDPS) serve as partial state points of contact for background checks on prospective handgun purchasers, with county sheriffs conducting checks on applicants for annual permits to acquire a handgun or permits to a carry concealed handgun, and the IDPS conducting handgun-related checks for state employees and non-residents.1 The FBI performs NICS checks for long gun purchases to enforce the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.2

For information about persons prohibited by federal or state law from possessing or purchasing a firearm, see the Iowa Prohibited Purchasers Generally section.

Under federal law, persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms are exempt 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.3 Holders of permits to acquire a handgun and permits to carry concealed weapons in Iowa are exempt from background checks when purchasing a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the Brady Act. Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination is subject to change without notice.

For information about the reporting of mental health information for use in firearm purchaser background checks, see the Iowa Mental Health Reporting section.

A private (i.e. unlicensed) seller and a purchaser involved in a handgun sales transaction must both possess a valid annual permit to acquire handguns, subjecting both parties to background checks. Long-gun transfers by private sellers are not subject to background checks in Iowa, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions still apply. See the Iowa Private Sales section.

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

Notes
  1. See Iowa Code §§ 724.16 – 724.21A; 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. 12, 2015). ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Kansas

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

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.)

Kansas is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Kansas has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Kansas, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.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.2 As a result, concealed weapons license holders in Kansas are exempt from the federal background check requirement.3 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits – and pass background checks – if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.)

Kansas 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 for more information.

 

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. ⤴︎
  2. 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). ⤴︎
  3. 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. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Kentucky

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

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.)

Kentucky is not a point of contact state for the NICS.1 Kentucky has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Kentucky firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.

Kentucky 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 for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Brady Exemption

In Kentucky, concealed weapons permit holders whose permits were issued on or after July 12, 2006, qualify as exempt from background checks for five years when purchasing a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the Brady Act.2 Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination for a given state is subject to change without notice.3

 

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 Jul. 9, 2015). ⤴︎
  2. Under federal law, persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms are exempt 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. ⤴︎
  3. Note also that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or permit firearms if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Louisiana

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

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.)

Louisiana is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Louisiana has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Louisiana, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.1

Louisiana law states that concealed handgun permit holders in Louisiana are exempt from federal background checks when purchasing a firearm provided that the appropriate waiver has been granted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.2 The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives has determined that Louisiana concealed handgun permits issued on or after March 9, 2015 qualify for this waiver.3 As a result, federal law still requires licensed dealers in Louisiana to conduct background checks prior to sale of a firearm if the purchaser has a concealed handgun permit issued before March 9, 2015.

Louisiana 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 for further information.

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. ⤴︎
  2. La. Rev. Stat. § 40:1379.3(T).  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). ⤴︎
  3. 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. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Maine

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.)

Maine is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Maine has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Maine firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.1

Maine 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. 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. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Maryland

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.)

The Secretary of the Maryland State Police (“Secretary”) serves as a partial state point of contact for implementation of the Brady Act. Prospective purchasers of state-defined “regulated firearms” (handguns and assault weapons)1 must complete the state’s application form.2 The application must be processed through the Secretary, who must verify the contents of the application.3 Among other things, the Secretary must disapprove a transfer if the Secretary receives written notification from the applicant’s licensed attending physician that the applicant suffers from a mental disorder and is a danger to himself or herself or to another.4 If the Secretary disapproves an application, the Secretary must notify the seller or transferor within seven days of the application, in accordance with the Maryland waiting period.5

A seller of a regulated firearm who is not licensed as a dealer in such firearms must complete a transaction through either a regulated firearms dealer or a designated law enforcement agency.6 See the Maryland Private Sales section for further information.

A dealer must contact the FBI for the federally required NICS checks for long gun (rifle and shotgun) transfers.7

See the Maryland Prohibited Purchasers Generally section for the classes of persons prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm under state law.

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

Notes
  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(r). ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-117, 5-118. ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-120, 5-123, 5-124. 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. ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-122. For more information about the procedure for the background check, see Md. Code Regs. 29.03.01.01 – Md. Code Regs. 29.03.01.12. ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-122. ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-124(a)(2). ⤴︎
  7. 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. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Massachusetts

See our Background Checks Policy Summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

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.)

Massachusetts is not a point of contact state for the NICS. As a result, in Massachusetts, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.1 A state administrative regulation confirms this requirement.2

Massachusetts also requires firearms owners to obtain a state license prior to purchase of a firearm, and the applicant for a license must undergo a background check before the license is issued. For more information about these licenses, see Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers below. Massachusetts requires firearms dealers to verify the validity of a potential transferee’s license prior to transferring a firearm.3 For licenses issued via the Massachusetts Instant Record Check System (MIRCS), the dealer must electronically submit:

  • The transferee’s license number;
  • The licensing authority that issued the license;
  • The type of firearm being purchased; and
  • Whether or not the firearm is a large capacity weapon.4

The dealer must then verify the transferee’s identity and validity of his or her license by scanning the fingerprint or entering the personal identification number contained on the license.5 If the license presented is expired, suspended or revoked, the dealer must notify the licensing authority and may take possession of it (in the latter case, the dealer must provide the holder with a receipt for the FID, permit or license, notify the holder of the need to renew the FID, permit or license, and forward it to the licensing authority).6

Massachusetts does not allow private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to sell more than four guns a year.7. Although Massachusetts does not explicitly require private sellers to conduct a background check of prospective purchasers, in 2014, Massachusetts enacted a law requiring the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services to develop a web portal through which private sellers of firearms must conduct a real-time check of the validity of the purchaser’s Firearm Identification Card and other necessary licenses.8

For more information about Massachusetts licensing of gun owners and laws governing private sales, see Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in Massachusetts and Private Sales.

 

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. ⤴︎
  2. 803 Mass. Code Regs. 10.07(3)(directing a gun dealer to contact the “national instant check system”). ⤴︎
  3. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 123 (Thirteenth). ⤴︎
  4. 803 Mass. Code Regs. 10.06(1)(a). ⤴︎
  5. 803 Mass. Code Regs. 10.04, 10.06(1)(c). ⤴︎
  6. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 123 (Thirteenth). ⤴︎
  7. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 128A ⤴︎
  8. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 128A. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Michigan

Federal law generally 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.)

Michigan is a partial point-of-contact state for NICS. Background checks requested by licensed dealers are processed directly through the FBI, which enforces the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.1 If the seller of a handgun is not a federally licensed dealer, Michigan requires that the purchaser have either a valid handgun purchase license or a license to carry a concealed handgun2 Prospective handgun purchase licensees are subject to a background check as part of the licensing process for each purchase license—and thus for each handgun purchased—through the Michigan Department of State Police.3 Concealed handgun licensees only have to submit to a background check once every five years, at the time of renewal of their concealed carry license.4  Michigan enacted a law in 2015 to require concealed handgun licensing authorities to conduct background checks through the state’s law enforcement information network and the FBI’s NICS database.5

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, Michigan handgun purchase license holders, and Michigan concealed pistol license holders with licenses issued on or after November 22, 2005, are exempt from the federal background check requirement when purchasing a firearm.6 (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.)

Long gun transfers by private sellers (non-firearms dealers) are not subject to background checks in Michigan.

See the Michigan Prohibited Persons Generally section for state-defined prohibited categories for the purchase and possession of guns.

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. ⤴︎
  2. Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 28.422a(1). A federally licensed firearms dealer is also exempt from the handgun purchase licensing requirement when purchasing and transporting handguns. Id. ⤴︎
  3. Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 28.422(3), (5). ⤴︎
  4. Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. §§ 28.425b(6), 28.425l(1)(stating that “a license to carry a concealed handgun is valid until the applicant’s date of birth that falls not less than 4 years or more than 5 years after the license is issued or renewed.”) ⤴︎
  5. See 2015 Mich. S.B. 34 (amending Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 28.425b(6).) ⤴︎
  6. 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. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Minnesota

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

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.)

Minnesota is not a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks. In Minnesota, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.1

State law requires local law enforcement to perform an additional background check in certain situations. With certain exceptions, if a person wishes to acquire a handgun or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon from a federally licensed dealer but does not have a transferee permit or a permit to carry a handgun, state law requires the dealer to file a report with the local police chief or sheriff, who then performs a background check.2 Note that a transferee permit or permit to carry a handgun does not exempt the holder from the background check required by federal law, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the Brady Act.

Local law enforcement also must conduct a background check whenever a person applies for a transferee permit or a permit to carry a handgun.3

When performing a background check for any of these purposes, the chief of police or sheriff is required to check criminal histories, records and warrant information relating to the applicant through the Minnesota Crime Information System and any national criminal record repository (including NICS), and commitment information through the state Commissioner of Human Services.4

Minnesota 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.


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. 25, 2015). ⤴︎
  2. Minn. Stat. § 624.7132, subd. 1, 2; see also Minn. Stat. § 624.7132, subd. 12(1) (exempting private sellers from this requirement). ⤴︎
  3. Minn. Stat. §§ 624.7131, subd. 2, subd. 4; 624.714, subd. 4. ⤴︎
  4. Minn. Stat. §§ 624.7131, subd. 2; 624.7132, subd. 2; 624.714, subd. 4. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Mississippi

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.)

Mississippi is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Mississippi has no law requiring firearms dealers to conduct background checks prior to transferring a firearm. In Mississippi, firearms dealers must conduct the background check required by federal law directly through the FBI, which enforces the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.1

Firearms transfers by private sellers (non-firearms dealers) are not subject to background checks in Mississippi, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions still apply. See the Mississippi 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 Oct. 26, 2011 ⤴︎

Background Checks in Missouri

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.)

Missouri is not a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks. In Missouri, all firearms transfers by licensed dealers are processed directly through the FBI, which enforces the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.1

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

Missouri 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.

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. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Montana

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. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Nebraska

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

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.)

Nebraska is a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks for handgun transfers only. In Nebraska, firearms dealers transferring handguns to non-federally licensed transferees must either:

  • Inspect photo identification and a valid handgun certificate or concealed handgun permit (which confirms the buyer is at least age 21 and has undergone a background check through the Nebraska State Patrol (“NSP”); or
  • Inspect photo identification from the potential buyer, obtain a consent form, and process a background check through the NSP’s instant check system.1

A firearms dealer transferring a long gun must contact the FBI, who performs a NICS check on the purchaser.2

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.3 As a result, handgun purchase certificate holders and concealed weapons permit holders in Nebraska are exempt from the federal background check requirement when purchasing a handgun.4 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or permit firearms if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.)

Nebraska law requires persons wishing to obtain handguns through private sellers (non-firearms dealers) to first obtain a handgun certificate or a concealed handgun permit, which requires a background check.5 Nebraska does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a long gun. See our Private Sales policy summary.

Notes
  1. Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 69-2403, 69-2409, 69-2410, 69-2411, 69-2431. ⤴︎
  2. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 69-2431.  See also, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Section Point of Contact States and Territories, at http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/nics/poclist.htm (last updated July 1, 2008). ⤴︎
  3. 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). ⤴︎
  4. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (last updated Aug. 26, 2011), at: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/brady-law/permit-chart.html. ⤴︎
  5. Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 69-2403, 69-2404, 69-2431. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Nevada

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.)

Nevada is a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks. In Nevada, the Nevada Department of Public Safety (NDPS), through its Brady Point of Sale program, serves as the state point of contact for implementation of the Brady Act.1 Licensed dealers must process each firearm transfer through NDPS, which in turn uses NICS and other databases to verify that prospective purchasers are not prohibited from possessing a firearm.2

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.3 As a result, holders of Nevada concealed carry permits issued on or after July 1, 2011 are exempt from the federal background check requirement.4 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or permit firearms if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.)

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 Mar. 6, 2012). ⤴︎
  2. For more information on the Point of Sale program, visit the Nevada Department of Public Safety’s Point of Sale program page. ⤴︎
  3. 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). ⤴︎
  4. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Aug. 26, 2011), at: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/brady-law/permit-chart.html. ⤴︎

Background Checks in New Hampshire

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

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.)

New Hampshire is a “partial point of contact” state for NICS. New Hampshire law authorizes, but does not require, the New Hampshire Department of Safety (“DOS”) to act as a point of contact for NICS.1 DOS has chosen to act as a point of contact for handgun sales, but not long gun sales. This means that, in New Hampshire, firearms dealers selling handguns must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting DOS, but firearm dealers selling long guns must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.2

For a discussion of persons prohibited by federal or state law from possessing or purchasing a firearm, see the New Hampshire Prohibited Purchasers Generally section.

New Hampshire 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 for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159-D:1. ⤴︎
  2. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/nics/about-nics ⤴︎

Background Checks in New Jersey

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.)

New Jersey is characterized as a full point-of-contact state for NICS. The New Jersey State Police (NJSP) serves as state points of contact for implementation of the Brady Act.1

In addition to the background check requirement at the point of sale, all firearm purchasers must have either: 1) a permit to purchase a handgun, allowing the purchase of one handgun per permit;2 or 2) a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FPIC), allowing unlimited rifle and shotgun purchases.3

Applications to obtain a permit to purchase a handgun or FPIC must be processed through NJSP or local law enforcement, which in turn use NICS and other state and local records to verify that prospective purchasers are not prohibited from possessing a firearm prior to the issuance of a permit to purchase or FPIC. For more detail on the permit to purchase and FPIC requirements, see the New Jersey Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers section.

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

 

Notes
  1. N.J. Admin. Code §§ 13:54-3.12, 13:54-3.13(a)(6). 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 Sept. 5, 2011). ⤴︎
  2. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-1.9(a). ⤴︎
  3. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3a, 3b, 3f; N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-1.9(b). ⤴︎

Background Checks in New Mexico

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.)

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

New Mexico 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. 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 Mar. 2012). ⤴︎

Background Checks in New York

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

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.)

New York is not a point of contact state for the NICS.  As a result, in New York, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.

Background Checks for Firearm Transfers

New York law requires that a NICS background check be completed by a licensed firearms dealer before the sale, exchange, or disposal of any firearm, unless the transaction is between members of an immediate family. Upon completion of the background check by the licensed dealer, the dealer must finalize a document that confirms that such a check was performed.  All dealers must maintain transaction records on their premises and the records must be open at all reasonable hours for inspection by law enforcement.  A dealer may charge a fee of up to $10.00 per transaction.  Such records will not be considered a public record under New York Public Officers Law.  Finally, any violations of these laws are punishable as a misdemeanor.1

Background Checks for Ammunition Transfers

Effective January 15, 2014, a seller of ammunition in New York cannot transfer ammunition to anyone other than a licensed firearms dealer unless the ammunition seller verifies the identity of the transferee by examining a valid state identification document (such as driver’s license) and contacts the statewide license and record database and provides the database with sufficient information to confirm that the transferee is eligible to possess ammunition.  If the transferee is eligible to possess ammunition, the database will provide the seller with a unique identification number that corresponds to the transfer.  This requirement will not apply if the background check cannot be completed because the system is not operational or cannot be accessed because of technical error.2

As of January 15, 2014, New York law establishes a statewide license and record database which is to be created and maintained by the Division of State Police.  Records of granted licenses must be periodically checked by the Division of Criminal Justice Services against criminal conviction, mental health, and all other records necessary to determine their continued accuracy and whether the person is still a valid license holder.  The Division of Criminal Justice Services must also check pending firearm license applications using the statewide database to determine whether a license may be granted.  All state agencies must cooperate in making their records available for such checks.3

See Retention of Sales & Background Check Records in New York for related information.

Notes
  1. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law Art. 39-DDD § 898. ⤴︎
  2. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.03(3), (5). ⤴︎
  3. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.02. ⤴︎

Background Checks in North Carolina

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.)

North Carolina is a partial point of contact state for NICS. In North Carolina, firearms dealers must contact the FBI to process the background check required by federal law if the firearm being transferred is a long gun. If the firearm being transferred is a handgun, the seller (regardless of whether or not he or she is a firearms dealer) must verify that the purchaser holds either a permit to purchase a handgun or a concealed weapons permit.1  Both of these permits are issued by the local sheriff after a background check.2  For further information about the background checks involved in issuing these permits, see the North Carolina Licensing of Gun Purchasers or Owners and North Carolina Concealed Weapons Permitting sections.

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.3 As a result, holders of permits to purchase handguns and concealed weapons permits in North Carolina are exempt from the federal background check requirement.4 (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.)

Private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) are not required to conduct background checks when transferring a long gun in North Carolina, although federal and state laws prohibiting certain persons from purchasing or possessing firearms still apply. See the North Carolina 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 Jun. 2, 2015). ⤴︎
  2. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-404. ⤴︎
  3. 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). ⤴︎
  4. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Jun. 2, 2015), at https://www.atf.gov/content/firearms/firearms-industry/permanent-brady-permit-chart. ⤴︎

Background Checks in North Dakota

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.)

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

Under federal law, persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms are exempt 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.2 Concealed weapons license holders whose permits were issued after December 1, 1999 are exempt from background checks when purchasing a firearm according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the federal Brady Act. Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination is subject to change without notice. For further information, see the North Dakota Concealed Weapons Permitting section.

Firearms transfers by private sellers (non-firearms dealers) are not subject to background checks in North Dakota, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions still apply. See the North Dakota 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 November 7, 2011). ⤴︎
  2. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Ohio

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.)

Ohio is not a point of contact state for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Ohio has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Ohio, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.1

Ohio 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. 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 May 11, 2015). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Oklahoma

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.)

Oklahoma is not a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks.1 In Oklahoma, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.

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

Oklahoma 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.

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. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Oregon

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.)

Oregon is a point of contact state for the NICS.1 Before the sale or transfer of any firearm, a firearms dealer must request by telephone that the Oregon Department of State Police (DSP) conduct a criminal history record check on an applicant using NICS and state databases (including the state’s mental health data system).2 For this purpose, the dealer must check the purchaser’s identification, complete a firearms transaction record, and obtain the signature and thumbprints of the purchaser.3 If DSP is unable to determine, within 30 minutes, whether the purchaser is qualified or disqualified from completing the transfer, DSP shall notify the dealer and provide the dealer with an estimate of the time when DSP will provide the requested information.4 If DSP fails to provide the dealer with an approval number or notify the gun dealer that the purchaser is disqualified from obtaining the firearm before the close of the gun dealer’s next business day following the dealer’s background check request, the dealer may deliver the firearm to the purchaser.5

All background checks for firearm transfers include a search of Oregon’s computerized criminal history system, the Law Enforcement Data System, NICS, the state stolen guns system, and the state mental health data system.6

In 2015, Oregon closed the private sale loophole by enacting a law requiring private or unlicensed firearm sellers to conduct background checks on private or unlicensed purchasers (see Private Sales in Oregon for more information).

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. ⤴︎
  2. Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 166.412(2)(d), 166.432(1), 166.434(1). ⤴︎
  3. Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.412(2)(a)-(c). ⤴︎
  4. Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.412(3)(b). ⤴︎
  5. Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.412(3)(c). ⤴︎
  6. Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.432. For DSP’s rules regarding background checks, see Or. Admin. R. 257-010-0010 et seq. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Pennsylvania

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.)

The Pennsylvania State Police (“PSP”) serves as a state point of contact for NICS.1 Before a federally licensed importer, manufacturer or dealer transfers a firearm to an unlicensed person, the importer, manufacturer or dealer must request, by means of a telephone call, that PSP conduct a criminal history, juvenile delinquency history, and a mental health check.2 The licensee and the purchaser must provide such information as is necessary to accurately identify the purchaser, and the licensee must inspect photo identification of the potential purchaser or transferee.3 The licensee may not transfer the firearm until he or she receives a unique approval number from PSP for the purchase.4 The licensee must also collect from the buyer or transferee and forward to PSP a fee equivalent to the cost of conducting the background check, but not exceeding $2 per buyer or transferee, and issue a receipt containing the approval number to the purchaser or transferee.5

The dealer is prohibited from transferring the firearm if PSP has issued a “temporary delay” in order to investigate whether the person has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor that disqualifies the person from firearm possession.6

In addition, to sell a handgun or short-barreled rifle or shotgun, a dealer must:

  • Require the purchaser to complete a purchase application, which includes a statement that the purchaser is the actual buyer of the firearm. The dealer must retain a copy of the application for at least 20 years, mail the original to PSP within 14 days of the sale, and provide one copy to the purchaser;
  • Record the approval number on the application; and
  • If the purchaser passes the background check, deliver the firearm to the purchaser securely wrapped and unloaded.7

Upon receipt of a request for a criminal history, juvenile delinquency history and mental health record check of the potential purchaser or transferee, PSP must immediately during the licensee’s call or by return call review PSP’s criminal history, fingerprint records, juvenile delinquency and mental health records to determine if the potential purchaser or transferee is prohibited from receipt or possession of a firearm under federal or state law.8 PSP must then inform the licensee making the inquiry either that the potential purchase or transfer is prohibited, or provide the licensee with a unique approval number.9

According to the 2013 Firearms Annual Report of the Pennsylvania State Police, PSP searches the following databases as part of a background check prior to approving a firearm transfer:

  • NICS;
  • PSP’s criminal history records;
  • PSP’s juvenile delinquency records;
  • PSP’s mental health records;
  • PSP’s protection from abuse file (see the Pennsylvania Domestic Violence and Firearms section); and
  • PSP’s wanted/missing person file.10

Pennsylvania law allows PSP to issue a temporary delay of the approval of the purchase or transfer of a firearm if the criminal history or juvenile delinquency background check indicates a conviction for a misdemeanor that PSP cannot determine is or is not related to domestic violence.11 Federal and Pennsylvania law prohibit firearm possession by persons convicted of certain domestic violence misdemeanors. See the Pennsylvania Domestic Violence and Firearms section for further information. During the temporary delay, PSP must investigate the conviction with courts and law enforcement or related institutions as necessary to determine whether the misdemeanor conviction involved domestic violence.12 PSP must conduct the investigation as expeditiously as possible.13

Law enforcement files concerning any child adjudicated delinquent for any criminal activity that would prohibit him or her from firearm possession must be recorded in the registry of PSP for the limited purpose of firearm background checks.14

For information about the reporting of mental health information for use in firearm purchaser background checks, see the Pennsylvania Mental Health Reporting section.

Pennsylvania law requires PSP to maintain a telephone number, operational seven days a week between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., for purposes of responding to inquiries from licensees. PSP must also employ and train such personnel as necessary to expeditiously administer these requirements.15

A person who has been denied a firearms transfer based on a background check may seek review from PSP and/or appeal that decision to the Pennsylvania Attorney General. The person may further appeal an unfavorable decision by the Attorney General in court.16

Statistics regarding background checks for firearm transfers in Pennsylvania can be found in the 2013 Firearms Annual Report of the Pennsylvania State Police. For example, in 2013, more than 11,000 firearm transfers were denied due to prohibitions in the record of the person attempting to obtain a firearm.17

For a discussion of persons prohibited by federal or state law from possessing or purchasing a firearm, see the Pennsylvania Prohibited Purchasers Generally section.

In Pennsylvania, private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) may only sell a handgun to an unlicensed purchaser through a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer or county sheriff’s office, who must initiate a background check as described above.18 Private sellers are not required to initiate background checks when transferring a long gun in Pennsylvania, although federal and state laws prohibiting certain persons from purchasing or possessing firearms still apply. See the Pennsylvania Private Sales section for more information.

A person violating these provisions who has already been convicted under them previously (in other words, a repeat offender), receives an enhanced punishment under Pennsylvania law.19

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

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

Notes
  1. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 6111, 6111.1; see also Pennsylvania State Police, 2013 Firearms Annual Report (2014). ⤴︎
  2. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(b)(3). As of February 3, 2014 an online interface is also available for dealers to initiate a background check. See Pennsylvania State Police, 2013 Firearms Annual Report (2014). ⤴︎
  3. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(b)(2), (3). ⤴︎
  4. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(b)(4). ⤴︎
  5. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(a), (b). ⤴︎
  6. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(b)(7). ⤴︎
  7. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(a), (b); 37 Pa. Code § 33.111. For more information about the procedures that licensed dealers must follow to complete the sale, please see the administrative regulations of PSP available at 37 Pa. Code §§ 33.102-33.113. ⤴︎
  8. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111.1(b)(1)(i), (ii). ⤴︎
  9. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111.1(b)(1)(iii). ⤴︎
  10. Pennsylvania State Police, 2013 Firearms Annual Report 2-3 (2014). ⤴︎
  11. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(b)(7). ⤴︎
  12. Id. ⤴︎
  13. Id. ⤴︎
  14. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111.1(h)(2). ⤴︎
  15. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111.1(c). ⤴︎
  16. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111.1(e). ⤴︎
  17. Pennsylvania State Police, 2013 Firearms Annual Report 1 (2014). ⤴︎
  18. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(c), (f)(1)-(2); 37 Pa. Code § 33.111(g). ⤴︎
  19. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(h). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Rhode Island

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.)

Rhode Island is not a point-of-contact state for NICS. In Rhode Island, licensed dealers are required to contact the FBI for the federally required background check.1 However, Rhode Island also requires both licensed dealers and private unlicensed sellers to conduct background checks through the state police or local chief of police. All prospective firearms purchasers in Rhode Island must complete and sign an application form which the seller must send to the state police or local chief of police for the background check. The police authority has seven days to verify that the applicant’s background meets state requirements.2

Note that concealed handgun license holders in Rhode Island are exempt from the Rhode Island background check requirement, but not the federal background check requirement (which applies only when the seller is a licensed dealer).3

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. 25, 2015). ⤴︎
  2. R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-47-35(a)(2), 11-47-35.2(b). A similar, but somewhat expedited, procedure exists for persons seeking to purchase a handgun from out-of-state. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-36. Federal law requires all out-of-state sales to Rhode Island residents to be made through a licensed firearms dealer in Rhode Island. 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(3), (5), (b)(3). ⤴︎
  3. See Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Aug. 26, 2011), at: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/brady-law/permit-chart.html; R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-47-35, 11-47-35.1, and 11-47-35.2. ⤴︎

Background Checks in South Carolina

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

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not unlicensed 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.)

South Carolina is not a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks.1 In South Carolina, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.

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.2 As a result, concealable weapons permit holders in South Carolina are exempt from the federal background check requirement.3 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or carry firearms if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.).

In 2012, South Carolina repealed its modest state law requirement that a person buying a handgun from a dealer present identification.4

South Carolina does not require unlicensed sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See our Universal Background Checks policy summary.

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. ⤴︎
  2. 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). ⤴︎
  3. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (June 10, 2014), at: https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/permanent-brady-permit-chart. ⤴︎
  4. 2012 S.C. Act No. 285. ⤴︎

Background Checks in South Dakota

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

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.)

South Dakota is not a point of contact state for the NICS. South Dakota has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm (although South Dakota does prohibit a dealer from selling a handgun unless the purchaser is personally known to the dealer or presents clear evidence of his or her identity1). As a result, in South Dakota, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.2

South Dakota 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.

Notes
  1. S.D. Codified Laws § 23-7-18. ⤴︎
  2. 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 April 12, 2012). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Tennessee

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.)

Tennessee is a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks. In Tennessee, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (“TBI”). TBI enforces the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.1

Any person appropriately licensed by the federal government may stock and sell firearms to any potential purchaser not ineligible to receive firearms because such recipient has been convicted of stalking,2 is addicted to alcohol, is prohibited under the prohibited categories of federal law3 or has been judicially committed to a mental institution or adjudicated as a mental defective.4

Before delivering any firearm to a purchaser, a firearms dealer must:

  • Receive from the prospective purchaser current identification;5
  • Complete a firearm transaction record as required by federal law and obtain the signature of the purchaser on the record;
  • Request that TBI conduct a criminal history record check on the purchaser, providing the following information to TBI:
    • The federal firearms license number of the dealer;
    • The business name of the dealer;
    • The place of transfer;
    • The name of the person making the transfer;
    • The make, model, caliber and manufacturer’s number of the firearm being transferred;
    • The name, gender, race, and date of birth of the purchaser;
    • The social security number of the purchaser, if one has been assigned; and
    • The type, issuer and identification number of the identification presented by the purchaser; and
  • Receive a unique approval number for the transfer from TBI and record this number on the firearm transaction record.6

TBI may require that the dealer verify the identification of the purchaser if that identity is in question by sending thumbprints of the purchaser to TBI.7

Firearm transfers will be denied if TBI finds that the potential purchaser has been charged with a crime for which a conviction would cause that purchaser to be prohibited under state or federal law from purchasing, receiving, or possessing a firearm, and a final disposition of the case has not occurred or is not recorded.8 However, if TBI has received written notice, signed and verified by the clerk of the court or the clerk’s designee, that indicates that no final disposition information is available, TBI must immediately reverse a denial and allow the sale to proceed.9 Alternatively, if the purchaser challenges a denial, TBI must proceed with efforts to obtain the final disposition information, and the purchaser may assist. If neither the purchaser nor TBI is able to obtain the final disposition information within 15 days, TBI must immediately notify the dealer that the transaction that was initially denied is now a “conditional proceed.” A “conditional proceed” means that the dealer may lawfully transfer the firearm to the purchaser.10

As of April 7, 2016, Tennessee law also requires the instant check unit of TBI to contact the relevant agency within one day if a person that is subject to a protective order entered into the Tennessee crime information center attempts to purchase a firearm.11

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

Sellers of firearms who are not federally licensed dealers are not required to conduct background checks on purchasers in Tennessee.  See our Private Sales policy summary.

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. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 38-6-109 and 39-17-1316 for greater detail on TBI’s processing of criminal background checks. ⤴︎
  2. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-315. ⤴︎
  3. See 18 U.S.C. § 922. ⤴︎
  4. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(a)(1). ⤴︎
  5. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(f). ⤴︎
  6. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(c). ⤴︎
  7. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(g). ⤴︎
  8. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(n). ⤴︎
  9. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(p). ⤴︎
  10. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(o). ⤴︎
  11. Tenn. Code Ann. § 38-6-109(e). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Texas

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

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.)

Texas is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Texas has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Texas, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.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,  handgun license holders in Texas are exempt from the federal background check requirement when purchasing a handgun.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.)

Texas 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 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. 14, 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. ⤴︎

Background Checks in the District of Columbia

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.)

The District of Columbia is not a point of contact jurisdiction for NICS. The District has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.1

The Chief of Police initiates backgrounds checks for the issuance of registration certificates, which are required to own and take possession of a firearm in the District.2

In the District, any private (i.e., unlicensed) firearm seller must have a registration certificate in order to lawfully transfer a firearm;3 private sellers may transfer lawful firearms to only licensed dealers.4 See the District of Columbia Private Sales section for further information.

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 Apr. 3, 2012). ⤴︎
  2. D.C. Code Ann. §§ 7-2502.01, 7-2502.03, 7-2502.06(a), 7-2505.02(c). ⤴︎
  3. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2502.01(a). ⤴︎
  4. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2505.02(a). The District has other transfer restrictions that ostensibly apply to all sellers of firearms, but for practical purposes apply only to licensed dealers. Sellers must wait to deliver a firearm to a purchaser after 10 days have elapsed from the time of application (except for transfers to certain law enforcement officers). D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4508. Firearms must be transported safely and lawfully (See D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4504.02.) D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4508. Prior to transfer, purchasers must sign in duplicate and deliver to the seller a statement containing his or her full name, address, occupation, color, place of birth, the date and hour of application, the caliber, make, model, and manufacturer’s number of the firearm to be purchased and a statement that the purchaser is not forbidden by D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4503 from possessing a firearm. D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4508. The seller shall, within six hours after such application, sign and attach his or her address and deliver a copy to the Chief of Police, and retain the other copy for six years. D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4508. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Utah

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

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.)

Utah is a point of contact state for NICS.1 Utah law provides that, before transferring a firearm, all firearm dealers in Utah must contact the Criminal Investigations and Technical Services Division of the Department of Public Safety (more commonly known as the Bureau of Criminal Identification, or BCI), which conducts the background check referenced above.2

The dealer must require an individual receiving a firearm to present one form of government-issued photo identification. The individual must consent in writing to the background check and provide personal information on a form provided by BCI. The dealer must then contact BCI by telephone or electronic means.3 BCI is required to review criminal history files, including juvenile court records, to determine if the individual is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm by state or federal law, prior to approving a firearm transfer.4 The dealer may not transfer the firearm until receiving approval from BCI.5

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, Utah concealed handgun license holders are exempt from the federal background check requirement when purchasing a firearm.6 Utah law also exempts concealed handgun license holders from the state provision requiring a background check.7 (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.)

Firearms transfers by private sellers (sellers who are not licensed as firearms dealers) are not subject to background checks in Utah. See our Private Sales 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 Sept. 3, 2015). ⤴︎
  2. See Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-526(3)(a). Under Utah law, this requirement does not apply if the federally licensed dealer is transferring the firearm to another federally licensed dealer. Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-526(3)(b). ⤴︎
  3. Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-526. ⤴︎
  4. Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-526. ⤴︎
  5. Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-526. ⤴︎
  6. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Sept. 4, 2015), at: https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/permanent-brady-permit-chart. ⤴︎
  7. Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-526(13). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Vermont

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

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.)

Vermont is not a point of contact state for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Vermont has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Vermont firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.1 Vermont also 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.

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. 19, 2015). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Virginia

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

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not unlicensed 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.)

In Virginia, all firearms transfers by licensed dealers are processed directly through the Department of State Police (“DSP”) which enforces the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.1

Before transferring a firearm from his or her inventory, a licensed dealer must:

  • Require a prospective purchaser to present one piece of government issued photo-identification that demonstrates that the prospective purchaser resides in Virginia;
  • Obtain the purchaser’s written consent to a background check and the other information on a consent form;
  • Request criminal history record information regarding the purchaser by a telephone call to or other communication authorized by DSP; and
  • Provide DSP with the name, birth date, gender, race, citizenship, and social security and/or any other identification number of the purchaser, and the number of firearms by category intended to be transferred.2

In 2016, Virginia repealed a requirement that a prospective purchaser present documentation of Virginia residency besides a photo ID.3

The DSP must generally process each dealer’s background check request “during the dealer’s call [to the DSP], or by return call without delay.”4 Virginia law provides that most background checks must be processed by the end of the following business day, or the dealer is free to complete the transfer (although federal law may continue to prohibit the transfer for 3 business days).5 Non-residents seeking to purchase a handgun are treated differently, and the DSP is allowed up to 10 days to process background checks in those situations.6

A Virginia law passed in 2015 provides that a firearm dealer may, prior to selling, renting, trading, or transferring any firearm owned by the dealer but not in his inventory, require the transferee to consent to have the dealer obtain criminal history record information from DSP to determine if the transferee is prohibited from possessing or transporting a firearm by state or federal law.7 

See the Retention of Sales / Background Check Records in Virginia for more information.

Virginia does not require “private” sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See our Universal Background Checks policy summary for more information.

Notes
  1. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:2. ⤴︎
  2. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:2(B)(1). ⤴︎
  3. 2016 VA H.B. 206. ⤴︎
  4. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:2(B)(2). ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:2(C). ⤴︎
  7. 2014 Va. H.B. 1702, enacting Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:2(Q). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Washington

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

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.)

Washington is a partial point of contact state for the NICS.1 In Washington, local law enforcement departments serve as state points of contact for implementation of the Brady Act for all dealer deliveries of handguns. Transfers of rifles and shotguns by licensed dealers are processed through the FBI.2

Licensed dealers must conduct background checks on prospective purchasers each time a dealer transfers a firearm.3 Washington requires firearms dealers to use NICS, the Washington State Patrol electronic database, the Department of Social and Health Services’ electronic database, and other agencies or resources as appropriate when processing firearm transactions.4

In 2014, Washington became the first state in the nation to pass a universal background checks law by voter initiative.5 The law requires all private sales of firearms to be conducted through a federally licensed firearms dealer who will conduct a background check on the private buyer. Washington also requires law enforcement to run a background check before returning a confiscated firearm.6

See the Washington Private Sales section and our Private Sales policy summary. See also the Retention of Sales / Background Check Records in Washington section.

Brady Exemption

Concealed pistol license holders whose licenses were issued on or after July 22, 2011, qualify as exempt from future background checks when purchasing a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the federal Brady Act. Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination for a given state is subject to change without notice.

Under federal law, persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms are exempt 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.7

 

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. 31, 2015). ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.090(2)(b). ⤴︎
  4. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.090(2)(b). ⤴︎
  5. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.010 ⤴︎
  6. 2015 WA S.B. 5381, Sect. 2(1). ⤴︎
  7. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). ⤴︎

Background Checks in West Virginia

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.)

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

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

Background Checks in Wisconsin

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

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.)

Wisconsin is a point of contact state for handgun purchaser background checks only.1 In Wisconsin, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the Wisconsin Department of Justice (“DOJ”). For long gun (rifle and shotgun) transfers, dealers must contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation.2

Before sale of a handgun, a handgun dealer must request a records search from DOJ and receive a confirmation number confirming the request. In 2015, Wisconsin repealed a long-standing requirement that the dealer must then wait 48 hours before transferring the handgun. The new law provides that the dealer may transfer the handgun upon receiving an approval number from DOJ.3 If the DOJ search indicates that is unclear whether the potential purchaser is prohibited from purchasing a firearm, DOJ must notify the dealer of the results no later than 5 working days after the search was requested.4

Regarding a prospective handgun transferee, the dealer must do the following, in the sequence listed, to obtain the proper information prior to requesting an approval number from DOJ:

  • Require each handgun transferee to show to the dealer a reliable identification document, such as a motor vehicle operator’s license or state-issued identification card that includes the licensee or card holder’s photograph;
  • Inspect the transferee’s identification document, including the photograph, and ensure that it accurately and reliably identifies the transferee;
  • Require the transferee to complete, in triplicate, an official DOJ-issued notification form. The dealer shall provide one copy to the transferee when either the handgun is transferred or when notification of non-approval is given to the transferee. Within 24 hours after the dealer receives DOJ notification that the transfer is either approved or not approved, the dealer shall mail one copy of the completed form to DOJ. The dealer shall retain the completed original form; and
  • Following the transferee’s completion of the notification form, the dealer shall telephone DOJ and request a record search, conveying all material information on the notification form to DOJ.5

Wisconsin law specifies that particular searches that DOJ must conduct to determine whether a person is prohibited from possessing a firearm under various provisions of Wisconsin and federal law.6

Wisconsin 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 for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/nics/about-nics ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. Wis. Stat. § 175.35 ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎
  5. Wis. Admin. Code Jus § 10.06(1). ⤴︎
  6. See Wis. Stat. § 175.35(1)(at) (listing the specific searches that DOJ conducts). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Wyoming

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

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.)

Wyoming is not a point of contact state for NICS and Wyoming has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. In Wyoming, 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, Wyoming concealed weapons permit holders 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).

Firearms transfers by private sellers (individuals other than licensed dealers) are not subject to background checks in Wyoming. See our Private Sales policy summary.

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. ⤴︎
  2. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Aug. 26, 2011), at: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/brady-law/permit-chart.html. ⤴︎