Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in California

See our Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

California has no express law requiring a person to obtain a license or permit prior to purchasing a firearm. However, California does have several robust, safety-related requirements, which are described below. Entertainment firearms permits are also described below.

Firearm Safety Certificate

Under California law, commencing January 1, 2015, a person must obtain a Firearm Safety Certificate (“FSC”)1 and present the FSC—or, in the case of a handgun, an unexpired Handgun Safety Certificate (“HSC”)—to a licensed firearms dealer prior to purchasing or receiving a firearm.2 With certain exceptions, any loan of a firearm also requires that the recipient possess and present a valid FSC.3 Concealed weapons license holders are exempt from the FSC requirement, as are active or honorably retired peace officers.4 The firearms dealer processing the transfer of the firearm must retain photocopies of the purchaser’s FSC or HSC for compliance purposes.5

To obtain a FSC, an applicant must be age 18 or older and successfully pass an objective, written test with a passing grade of at least 75 percent.6 The test must be administered by a California Department of Justice (“DOJ”)-certified instructor.7 The test must cover, but is not limited to, the following:

  • The laws applicable to carrying and handling firearms, particularly handguns;
  • The responsibilities of ownership of firearms, particularly handguns;
  • Current law as it relates to the private sale and transfer of firearms;
  • Current law as it relates to the permissible use of lethal force;
  • What constitutes safe firearm storage;
  • Issues associated with bringing a firearm into the home; and
  • Prevention strategies to address issues associated with bringing firearms into the home.8

Additionally, starting January 1, 2019, FSC test takers must also sign an acknowledgment indicating that they have received a warning regarding the need to comply with California’s gun laws and to responsibly handle and securely store their firearms to prevent access by children and unauthorized users.9

If a person taking the FSC test is unable to read, the examination will be administered orally and, if the person is unable to read English or Spanish, the test may be provided orally by a translator.10

DOJ may charge the certified instructor up to $15 for each firearm safety certificate issued by that instructor to cover the department’s cost in carrying out and enforcing the laws regarding FSCs. The certified instructor may in turn charge a fee of $25.11 DOJ is also required to produce a FSC instructional manual, along with audiovisual materials for the test, in addition to the objective test itself, in both English and Spanish. This manual is to be made available to firearms dealers, who must then make it available to the general public.12

California law lists certain information that every FSC must contain.13 If an individual’s FSC or HSC is lost or destroyed, the issuing instructor will issue a duplicate upon request and proof of identification, and the issuing instructor may charge a fee of up to $15 for a duplicate certificate.14

Once issued, a FSC is valid for five years.15 For additional information about FSCs, see DOJ’s webpage entitled Firearm Safety Certificate program.

For additional documentation required for the purchase of a handgun, including proof of California residency, see our Background Checks in California section.

Safe Handling Demonstration

A firearms dealer in California must not deliver a handgun or, starting January 1, 2015, a long gun to a purchaser or transferee unless the recipient performs a safe handling demonstration with the firearm being purchased in the presence of a DOJ-certified instructor.16 With few exceptions, all firearms transfers must be processed through a licensed firearms dealer, so almost all transfers are subject to this requirement. California law lists the particular actions the purchaser or transferee must perform during the demonstration.17 For handguns, these actions differ depending on whether the firearm is a semiautomatic pistol, double-action revolver, or single-action revolver.18 For long guns, DOJ must, commencing January 1, 2015, issue regulations establishing a long gun safe handling demonstration that must include, at a minimum, loading and unloading the long gun.19 Safe handling performance steps for various long gun models are located in the DOJ Firearm Safety Certificate Study GuideConcealed weapons license holders are exempt from these safe handling requirements.20

Entertainment Firearms Permits

To facilitate rentals of firearms for use in motion picture, television and other entertainment productions, California has created an “entertainment firearms permit.” This permit allows any person age 21, after passing a background check, to be exempt from normal firearms dealer transfer requirements when possessing or receiving an unloaded firearm for use solely as a prop in a motion picture, television, video, theatrical or other entertainment production or event.21 Among other things, the following provisions of California law do not apply to a firearms transfer when the recipient is the holder of an entertainment firearms permit:

An entertainment firearms permit is valid for one year.26

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.27 As a result, persons who have California entertainment firearms permits are exempt from the federal background check requirement as well.28 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.

Notes
  1. Prior to January 1, 2015, this requirement applied only to handguns. ⤴︎
  2. Cal. Penal Code §§ 26840, 27540(e), 31615. ⤴︎
  3. Cal. Penal Code §§ 26840, 27540(e). For all exceptions to these requirements, see Cal. Penal Code §§ 31700-31835. ⤴︎
  4. Cal. Penal Code § 31700. All other FSC exemptions are also listed in this section. ⤴︎
  5. Cal. Penal Code § 26840. ⤴︎
  6. Cal. Penal Code §§ 31625, 31640, 31645. If an applicant fails the objective test on the first attempt, he or she must be offered additional instructional materials by the instructor. Cal. Penal Code § 31645(b). The applicant may not retake the written test until 24 hours have elapsed after the first attempt. Id. If the applicant desires to take a written test a second time, he or she will be given a different version of the test by the same instructor who administered the first test. Id. All tests must be taken from the same instructor, except upon permission by the department, which will be granted only for good cause shown. Id. ⤴︎
  7. Cal. Penal Code § 31640(a). The instructor certification requirements are available at Cal. Penal Code §§ 16370 and 31635. ⤴︎
  8. Cal. Penal Code § 31640. ⤴︎
  9. Cal. Penal Code § 31640(d). ⤴︎
  10. Cal. Penal Code § 31640(b). ⤴︎
  11. Cal. Penal Code § 31650. ⤴︎
  12. Cal. Penal Code §§ 31630,31640. ⤴︎
  13. The FSC must contain, but is not limited to, the following information:
    • A unique firearm safety certificate identification number;
    • The holder’s full name;
    • The holder’s date of birth;
    • The holder’s driver’s license or identification number;
    • The holder’s signature;
    • The signature of the issuing instructor; and
    • The date of issuance. Cal. Penal Code § 31655. ⤴︎
  14. Cal. Penal Code § 31660. ⤴︎
  15. Cal. Penal Code § 31655(c). ⤴︎
  16. Cal. Penal Code §§ 26850; 26860. Following the safe handling demonstration, the dealer must sign, date, and retain an affidavit stating that the requirements have been met, and obtain the signature of the handgun or long gun purchaser on this affidavit. Cal. Penal Code §§ 26850(d), 26860(c). Failure to comply may result in removal of the dealer from California’s centralized list of firearms dealers. Cal. Penal Code § 26800. ⤴︎
  17. Cal. Penal Code §§ 26853, 26856, 26859. ⤴︎
  18. Id. ⤴︎
  19. Cal. Penal Code § 26860(b). ⤴︎
  20. Cal. Penal Code § 26850(h). ⤴︎
  21. Cal. Penal Code §§ 27000, 27745, 27805, 27810, 27835, 27960, 28100, 31820, 31825. For information about the permitting process, see Cal. Penal Code §§ 29500-29535. ⤴︎
  22. Cal. Penal Code § 27960. ⤴︎
  23. Cal. Penal Code §§ 27000, 27745, 31820, 31825. ⤴︎
  24. Cal. Penal Code §§ 27540(f), 27745. ⤴︎
  25. Cal. Penal Code §§ 27540(a), 27745. ⤴︎
  26. Cal. Penal Code § 29530. ⤴︎
  27. 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). ⤴︎
  28. 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. ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in Connecticut

In Connecticut, a person may not purchase or receive a handgun unless he or she holds a valid permit to carry a handgun (see the Concealed Weapons Permitting in Connecticut section), a valid permit to sell a handgun (see the Dealer Regulations in Connecticut section), or a valid handgun eligibility certificate.1 A person is entitled to a handgun eligibility certificate, issued by the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection (“the Commissioner”), unless he or she:

  • Has been convicted of a felony (with limited exceptions) or of certain violent or intimidating misdemeanors;
  • Has been convicted as a delinquent for the commission of a serious juvenile offense;
  • Has been discharged from custody within the preceding 20 years after having been found not guilty of a crime due to mental disease or defect under state law;
  • Has been confined in a mental hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities within the preceding 60 months by order of a probate court;
  • On or after October 1, 2013, has been voluntarily admitted to a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities within the preceding six months for care and treatment of a psychiatric disability and not solely for being an alcohol-dependent person or a drug-dependent person;
  • Is subject to a restraining or protective order issued by a court in a case involving the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person;
  • Is subject to a firearms seizure order for posing risk of imminent personal injury to self or others issued after notice and an opportunity to be heard;
  • Is prohibited from shipping, transporting, possessing or receiving a firearm for mental health reasons pursuant to federal law;
  • Is an undocumented person illegally or unlawfully in the United States;
  • Is under 21 years of age; or
  • Failed to successfully complete an approved course in the safety and use of handguns.2

Handgun eligibility certificates do not authorize the holder to carry a handgun upon the person.3

A holder of a handgun eligibility certificate is not subject to the state’s waiting period for rifles or shotguns.4 It may take up to 60 days after a record check from the FBI, and 90 days total, for the Commissioner to issue an eligibility certificate.5

An eligibility certificate is valid for five years.6

The names and addresses of holders of handgun eligibility certificates are confidential.7

Long Gun Eligibility Certificate

No person may purchase or receive any long gun (i.e., rifle or shotgun) unless he or she obtains a long gun eligibility certificate or has a handgun eligibility certificate or a permit to sell handguns at retail.8

A person is entitled to a long gun eligibility certificate from the Commissioner, unless the applicant:

  • Has been convicted of a felony or certain violent or intimidating misdemeanors;
  • Has been convicted as a delinquent for the commission of a serious juvenile offense;
  • Has been discharged from custody within the preceding 20 years after having been found not guilty of a crime due to mental disease or defect under state law;
  • Has been confined in a mental hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities within the preceding 60 months by order of a probate court;
  • Has been voluntarily admitted to a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities within the preceding six months for care and treatment of a psychiatric disability and not solely for being an alcohol-dependent person or a drug-dependent person;
  • Is subject to a restraining or protective order issued by a court in a case involving the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person;
  • Is subject to a firearms seizure order for posing risk of imminent personal injury to self or others issued after notice and an opportunity to be heard;
  • Is prohibited from shipping, transporting, possessing or receiving a firearm for mental health reasons pursuant to federal law;
  • Is an undocumented person illegally or unlawfully in the United States;
  • Is under 18 years of age; or
  • Failed to successfully complete an approved course in the safety and use of firearms.9

The fee for an initial or renewal certificate is $35,10 and the certificate is good for five years.11

The names and addresses of holders of long gun eligibility certificates are confidential.12

The Commissioner must include information about such certificates in the database currently maintained for sellers to verify the validity of a purchaser’s gun credentials.13

The Commissioner must require each applicant to submit to state and national criminal history records checks.14 The Commissioner is also specifically required to verify that a person who seeks or applies for the renewal of an eligibility certificate for a handgun, long gun or certificate of possession for an assault weapon  has not been confined in a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities within the preceding 60 months by order of a probate court, or has not been voluntary admitted to a hospital within the preceding six months for care and treatment of a psychiatric disability and not solely for being an alcohol-dependent person or a drug-dependent person, by inquiring with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to receive a report limited to the commitment or admission status of the person.15

As is the case for handgun eligibility certificates, a long gun eligibility certificate can be revoked upon the occurrence of any event that would have disqualified the holder from being issued the certificate. If the certificate is revoked, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection must notify the person in writing, and the person must deliver it to the Commissioner.16

See our Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-33(b). ⤴︎
  2. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-36f(b). ⤴︎
  3. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-36g(f). ⤴︎
  4. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-37a(g). ⤴︎
  5. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-36g(a), (b)(2). ⤴︎
  6. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-36h(b). ⤴︎
  7. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-36g(e). ⤴︎
  8. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-37a(c). ⤴︎
  9. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-38g. ⤴︎
  10. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-38i(a). ⤴︎
  11. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-38i(b). ⤴︎
  12. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-38h(d). ⤴︎
  13. See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-36l. ⤴︎
  14. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 29-33(c), 29-37a(d), (f)(2), . ⤴︎
  15. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-38b(a). ⤴︎
  16. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-38j. Any person aggrieved by an adverse action concerning a certificate or application may appeal to the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners. See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-32b. ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in Hawaii

Generally, anyone wishing to acquire a firearm must obtain a permit.1 In 2017, Hawaii enacted a law that requires the chief of police who is responsible for issuing permits to report applicants who fail a background check to law enforcement and other agencies.2 The 2017 law and the criteria for permit eligibility are discussed in the Hawaii Background Checks section.

“The permit application form shall include the applicant’s name, address, sex, height, weight, date of birth, place of birth, country of citizenship, social security number, alien or admission number, and information regarding the applicant’s mental health history and shall require the fingerprinting and photographing of the applicant by the police department of the county of registration.”3

An applicant for a permit must sign a waiver at the time of the application allowing the chief of police of the county issuing the permit access to any records that have a bearing on the mental health of the applicant.4

Permits to acquire a handgun require a separate application and permit for each transaction, and are void if not used within ten days after the date of issue.5 Permits to acquire a rifle or shotgun entitle the permittee to make subsequent purchases of rifles or shotguns for a period of one year from the date of issue without a separate application and permit for each acquisition, subject to the disqualifications under state law.6

One copy of the permit must be retained by the issuing authority as a permanent official record.7

Under state law, no person may obtain a permit to acquire a handgun unless he or she has completed:

  • An approved hunter education course as authorized under state law;8
  • A firearms safety or training course or class available to the general public offered by a law enforcement agency of the state or of any county;
  • A firearms safety or training course offered to law enforcement officers, security guards, investigators, deputy sheriffs, or any division or subdivision of law enforcement or security enforcement by a state or county law enforcement agency; or
  • A firearms training or safety course or class conducted by a state certified or National Rifle Association certified firearms instructor or a certified military firearms instructor that provides, at a minimum, a total of at least two hours of firing training at a firing range and a total of at least four hours of classroom instruction, which may include a video, that focuses on:
    • The safe use, handling, and storage of firearms and firearm safety in the home; and
    • Education on the firearm-related laws of Hawaii.9

No permit to acquire a firearm shall be issued earlier than 14 calendar days after the date of the application, except for sales to state or federally licensed dealers, law enforcement officers, persons with a license to carry a handgun, or where a firearm is registered pursuant to state law.10 See the Hawaii Registration of Firearms section for additional information. All permits must be issued or the application denied before the 20th day from the date of application.11

State law provides that:

  • In all cases where a handgun is acquired from another person within the state, the buyer’s permit to acquire a handgun must be signed in ink by the buyer and delivered to the seller. The seller must verify that the buyer is the person named in the permit and enter on the permit: 1) the name of the person to whom the title to the handgun was transferred; 2) names of the manufacturer and importer; 3) the model; 4) the type of action; 5) the caliber or gauge; and 6) the serial number as applicable. The seller must then sign the permit in ink and send it by registered mail to the issuing authority within 48 hours after transferring the firearm.
  • In all cases where receipt of a firearm comes by mail, express, freight, or otherwise from sources outside Hawaii, the buyer shall make the prescribed entries on the permit, sign the permit in ink, and send it by registered mail to the issuing authority within 48 hours after taking possession of the firearm.
  • In all cases where a rifle or shotgun is acquired from another person within the state, the seller must submit, within 48 hours after transferring the firearm, to the authority which issued the permit to acquire: 1) the seller’s name; 2) the buyer’s name; 3) names of the manufacturer and importer; 4) the model; 5) the type of action; 6) the caliber or gauge; and 7) serial number.12 Permits to acquire may be revoked for good cause by the issuing authority or by the judge of any court.13

Permits to acquire are exempt from the requirements of the Brady Act. 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.14 Consult the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart outlining those permits that qualify as alternatives to the Brady Act. Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination is subject to change without notice.

In 2016, Hawaii enacted a law authorizing county police departments to enroll firearms permit applicants into the federal Rap Back service. The FBI defines the Rap Back service as a service that “allows authorized agencies to receive notification of activity on individuals who hold positions of trust (e.g. school teachers, daycare workers) or who are under criminal justice supervision or investigation, thus eliminating the need for repeated background checks on a person from the same applicant agency.”15

See our Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(a). ⤴︎
  2. Id. at 2(j). ⤴︎
  3. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(b). ⤴︎
  4. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(c). ⤴︎
  5. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(e). ⤴︎
  6. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(e); See also, Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-7. ⤴︎
  7. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(e). ⤴︎
  8. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 183D-28. ⤴︎
  9. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(g). ⤴︎
  10. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 134-3(a), 134-2(e). ⤴︎
  11. Id. ⤴︎
  12. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(f). ⤴︎
  13. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-13. ⤴︎
  14. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). ⤴︎
  15. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 134-2, 3;  846-2.7(b)(42. ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in Illinois

Illinois law provides that no person may acquire or possess any firearm or ammunition without a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification (“FOID”) card.1 Persons who hold valid permits to carry concealed handguns, however, are exempt from this requirement.2 Illinois law also prohibits any person from knowingly selling firearms or ammunition to an individual who does not present a FOID card or a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun.3

Each applicant for a FOID card is required to complete an application and “submit evidence” to the Illinois Department of State Police (“DSP”) that she or he is 21 years of age or over (or, if under 21, show that she or he has the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to possess firearms), is a resident of Illinois, and is not a prohibited purchaser.4 An applicant must also furnish his or her photograph.5 The DSP conducts an automated search of its criminal history record information files and those of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”), and of the files of the state Department of Human Services relating to mental health and developmental disabilities to obtain any felony conviction or patient hospitalization information which would disqualify a person from obtaining or require revocation of a currently valid FOID card.6

The DSP has the authority to revoke a FOID card if the holder becomes a prohibited purchaser.7 See Disarming Prohibited Persons in Illinois for a description of the gun relinquishment process when a FOID card is revoked.

If an application for a FOID card is denied, or if the Department of State Police fails to act on an application within 30 days of its receipt, or when a FOID card is revoked, the aggrieved party may appeal to the Director of State Police for a hearing, unless the denial or revocation was based on a number of serious offenses including a forcible felony, stalking, domestic battery, and violations of the Controlled Substances Act.8 All final administrative decisions regarding FOID cards by the Department of State Police are subject to judicial review under the Administration Review Law.9

Illinois does not impose a limit on the number of firearms that may be purchased by the holder of a FOID card.

With certain limited exceptions, any private (unlicensed) 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.10 For more details, see the Private Sales in Illinois section.

Disclosure or Use of Information

Under a law enacted in Illinois in 2011, the names and identifying information of applicants for, and recipients of, FOID cards are no longer public information.11

Duration and Renewal

FOID cards are valid for a period of ten years from the date of issue.12 Sixty days prior to the expiration of a FOID card, the DSP must provide written notice to the card holder of the expiration and an application for renewal.13 The holder of a FOID card is obligated to notify the DSP of an address change following the issuance of the FOID card.14

Reciprocity

An Illinois resident with a valid FOID card who is not otherwise prohibited from obtaining, possessing or using a firearm may purchase a long gun and ammunition for a long gun in Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin or Kentucky.15 Any resident of Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin or Kentucky or a non-resident with a valid non-resident hunting license, who is 18 years of age or older and who is not prohibited by the laws of Illinois, the state of his or her domicile, or the United States from obtaining, possessing or using a firearm, may purchase or obtain a long gun or ammunition for a long gun in Illinois.16

Any resident may purchase ammunition from a person outside of Illinois, provided the purchaser provides the seller with a copy of his or her FOID card and Illinois driver’s license.17

See the Background Checks in Illinois and Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Illinois sections for further details on the requirements for obtaining a FOID card.

See our Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/2(a)(1), (2). ⤴︎
  2. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/2(c)(5). ⤴︎
  3. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a); 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(k). ⤴︎
  4. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/4(a). ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.1(b). ⤴︎
  7. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/8. ⤴︎
  8. 430 Ill.Comp. Stat. 65/10(a). ⤴︎
  9. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/11. ⤴︎
  10. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-10). ⤴︎
  11. 5 Ill. Comp. Stat. 140/7.5(v). ⤴︎
  12. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/7. ⤴︎
  13. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/13.2. ⤴︎
  14. Id. ⤴︎
  15. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3a(a). ⤴︎
  16. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3a(b). ⤴︎
  17. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(b-5). ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in Iowa

Any person seeking to acquire ownership of a handgun in Iowa must possess a valid five-year permit.1 See the Iowa Private Sales page for further information.

The permit to acquire a handgun qualifies as an exemption from the requirements of the Brady Act. 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 Consult the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart outlining 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 further information, see the Iowa Background Checks section.

See our Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Iowa Code § 724.15. Application requirements for an annual permit to acquire handguns are detailed in sections 724.17, 724.18, and 724.19. If the issuing officer determines that the applicant has become disqualified under the provisions of section 724.15(1), he or she may immediately invalidate the permit. Section 724.15(3). ⤴︎
  2. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in Maryland

Handgun Qualification License

A person may purchase, rent, or receive a handgun only if the person is not prohibited from purchasing or possessing a handgun under state or federal law, and:

  • Possesses a valid handgun qualification license issued by the Secretary of State;
  • Possesses valid credentials from a law enforcement agency or retirement credentials from a law enforcement agency;
  • Is an active or retired member of the armed forces and possess a valid military ID; or
  • Is purchasing, renting, or receiving an antique, curio, or relic firearm as defined by federal law.1

The Secretary must issue a handgun qualification license to a person who the Secretary finds:

  • Is at least 21 years old;
  • Is a resident of Maryland;
  • Has demonstrated satisfactory completion, within three years prior to the submission of his or her application of a firearms safety training course approved by the Secretary, that includes: 1) A minimum of four hours of instruction by a qualified handgun instructor; 2) Class instruction on state firearm law, home firearm safety, and handgun mechanisms and operation; and 3) A firearms orientation component that demonstrates the person’s safe operation and handling of a firearm; and
  • Based on an investigation, is not prohibited by federal or state law from purchasing or possessing a handgun.2

The Secretary must apply to the Central Repository (meaning the Criminal Justice Information System Central Repository of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services) for a state and national criminal history records check for each applicant for a handgun qualification license.3 The information obtained from the Central Repository is confidential and may not be disseminated.4

Within 30 days of application, the Secretary must issue either a handgun qualification license or a written denial of the application that contains the reason the application was denied and a statement of the applicant’s appeal rights.5

A handgun qualification license expires 10 years from the date of issuance and may be renewed.6

A handgun qualification license may be revoked by the Secretary upon a determination that the licensee is no longer qualified.  A person holding a license that has been revoked must return the license within five days after receipt of the notice of revocation.7

A person whose application for a handgun qualification license is denied or whose handgun qualification license is revoked may submit a written request to the Secretary for a hearing within 30 days after the date the written notice of the denial or revocation was sent. A hearing must be granted by the Secretary within 15 days after the request and must be held in the county of the legal residence of the applicant or licensee.8

Firearm Application

In addition, Maryland requires that purchasers of state-defined “regulated firearms” (handguns and assault weapons)9 first complete the state’s application form.10 If the transfer is approved, the person has 90 days to complete the purchase.11 See the Background Checks in Maryland section for further information.

As of October 1, 2013, firearm applications must contain an affirmation that the applicant12:

  • Is at least 21 years old;
  • Has never been convicted of a “common law crime” and received a term of imprisonment over two years;
  • Has never been convicted of a disqualifying crime;
  • Is not a fugitive from justice;
  • Is not a habitual drunkard;
  • Is not addicted to a controlled dangerous substance or is not a habitual user;
  • Does not suffer from a mental health disorder as defined by Maryland law and does not have a history of violent behavior against themselves or another person;
  • Has never been: 1) Found incompetent to stand trial; 2) Found “not criminally responsible” due to mental health issue; 3) Voluntarily admitted for more than 30 consecutive days to a state facility; 4) Involuntarily committed to a state health facility; or 5) Admitted to a mental health facility because of an emergency evaluation or, if so admitted, possesses a certificate from the facility that he or she is capable of possessing a regulated firearm without “undue danger” to himself, herself or another person;
  • Is not under the protection of a guardian appointed by a court (except for case in which appointment of a guardian is solely a result of a physical disability);
  • Is not a respondent against whom: 1) A current non ex parte civil protective order has been entered under § 4-506 of the Family Law Article of the Maryland Code; or 2) An order for protection has been issued by a court of another state or a Native American Tribe and is in effect;
  • If under age 30 at the time of application, has not been adjudicated delinquent by a juvenile court for an act that would be a disqualifying crime if committed by an adult; and
  • Has completed a certified firearms safety training course that the Police Training Commission conducts or that meets the standards that the Police Training Commission establishes.13

The application must also contain a copy of the applicant’s handgun qualification license and the date and time that the firearm applicant delivered the completed application to the prospective seller or transferor.14

For further information on Maryland’s gun safety training requirements, please consult the Maryland Firearms Safety Training Website.

See our Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(c). ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(d). ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(f)(1), (2). ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(f)(6). ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(h)(1). ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(i). ⤴︎
  7. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(k). ⤴︎
  8. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(l). ⤴︎
  9. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(r). ⤴︎
  10. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-117, 5-118. ⤴︎
  11. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-123(b). ⤴︎
  12. Md. Code Ann. Pub. Safety § 5-118. ⤴︎
  13. See Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 3-207 for information on the Police Training Commission’s powers and duties. ⤴︎
  14. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-118. ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in Massachusetts

See our Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

A 2014 law made changes to the state’s licensing of gun owners. After the licensing provisions of the law become effective on January 1, 2015, Massachusetts will have three types of licenses for gun purchasers and owners: the Firearm Identification Card (“FID”), the license to carry, and a permit to purchase, rent or lease.1 Each entitles the holder to different privileges, described below.

Types of Licenses
A FID card enables the holder to purchase or possess only rifles and shotguns that are not considered “large capacity” weapons, and feeding devices for long guns that are not “large capacity” weapons.2 “Large capacity weapon” includes assault weapons and most firearms capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition or more than five shotgun shells (either directly, or via a large capacity feeding device).3

In order to purchase a handgun or handgun feeding device (or short-barreled shotgun or rifle), the person must obtain a FID card and a “permit to purchase, rent or lease.”4 A permit to purchase, rent or lease a handgun or short-barreled firearm is issued at the discretion of the licensing authority for “a proper purpose,” is valid for only 10 days, and can be revoked at any time.5 The licensing authority may restrict the caliber and capacity of the firearm that may be purchased, rented or leased with the license. The licensing authority must send a copy of each issued permit to the commissioner of the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services within one week.6 When a firearms dealer transfers a handgun to a person holding a permit to purchase, rent or lease, the dealer is required to write on the permit the date and place of the transfer, and transmit the permit to the executive director of the Criminal History Systems Board.7

A license to carry allows the licensee to purchase, rent, lease, borrow, possess and carry all types of lawful firearms, including both large and non-large capacity handguns, rifles, shotguns, and feeding devices and ammunition for these firearms.8 Unlike FID holders, licensees to carry may purchase handguns and short-barreled firearms without obtaining a permit to purchase, rent or lease.9 State law does not appear to limit the number of firearms a licensee to carry may purchase or possess. For further information on licenses to carry, please see the Concealed Weapons Permitting section.

Licensing Standards
Any person residing or having a place of business within the jurisdiction of a city or town police department (“licensing authority”), or any person residing in an area of exclusive federal jurisdiction located within a city or town, may submit to the local licensing authority an application for a FID or a license to carry firearms.10 A temporary license to carry firearms may also be issued by the colonel of state police to a nonresident of Massachusetts or any person not falling within the jurisdiction of a local licensing authority “for purposes of firearms competition and subject to such terms and conditions as said colonel may deem proper.”11

Firearm Identification Cards (FID)
The licensing authority shall issue a FID unless the applicant falls into one of the prohibited categories listed above in the section entitled Prohibited Purchasers Generally.12 However, a law enacted in 2014 law gives the licensing authority some discretion to deny a FID if the applicant is “unsuitable.”13

If the licensing authority believes the applicant is unsuitable, it may file a petition with a court to deny the issuance or renewal of, or suspend or revoke, a FID. Upon the filing of a petition to deny the issuance or renewal of a FID, the court shall hold a hearing within 90 days to determine whether the applicant is unsuitable. The FID will not be issued or renewed while a petition is pending with the court.

Upon the filing of a petition to revoke or suspend a FID, the court shall determine within 15 days whether there is sufficient evidence to support a finding that the applicant is unsuitable. The FID will be suspended or revoked while the court’s determination is pending. If the court determines that sufficient evidence of unsuitability exists, within 75 days, the court shall hold a hearing to make a final determination of whether the applicant is unsuitable.

The licensing authority must show by a preponderance of the evidence that reliable, articulable and credible evidence exists that the applicant has behaved in a way to suggest he or she could potentially create a risk to public safety. The court may hear evidence of the existence of other factors that suggest the same. If the court fails to make a suitability determination within the allowable time frames, the court must enter judgment that the applicant is suitable. ((Id.))

Licenses to carry
A license to carry may be issued if the applicant is not a prohibited person, not unsuitable and has good reason to fear injury to himself, herself or his or her property, or for any other reason including carrying of firearms for use in sport or target practice only.14 For more about license to carry standards, see the Concealed Weapon Permitting section.

License Application Process
In the application process for either a FID or a license to carry, the licensing authority must forward one copy of the application and one copy of the applicant’s fingerprints to the colonel of state police (“colonel”) who must, within 30 days, advise the licensing authority, in writing, of any disqualifying criminal record, and whether there is reason to believe that the applicant is otherwise disqualified from possessing a FID or license to carry.15 The colonel shall utilize files maintained by the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Probation “and statewide and nationwide criminal justice, warrant and protection order information systems and files including, but not limited to,” the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”).16 The licensing authority has 40 days from the date an application is submitted to approve or deny the application for a FID or license to carry.17

In the case of a license to carry:

The licensing authority may also make inquiries concerning the applicant to: (i) the commissioner of the department of criminal justice information services relative to any disqualifying condition and records of purchases, sales, rentals, leases and transfers of weapons or ammunition concerning the applicant; (ii) the commissioner of probation relative to any record contained within the department of probation or the statewide domestic violence record keeping system concerning the applicant; and (iii) the commissioner of the Department of Mental Health relative to whether the applicant is a suitable person to possess firearms or is not a suitable person to possess firearms. The director or commissioner to whom the licensing authority makes such inquiry shall provide prompt and full cooperation for that purpose in any investigation of the applicant.18

Massachusetts law also prohibits any person from using a FID or a license to carry for the purpose of purchasing a firearm for the unlawful use of another, or for resale of a firearm, or giving a firearm to, an unlicensed person.19

A FID is generally valid for six years from the date of issue.20 A license to carry is valid not more than six years from the date of issue.21

Notes
  1. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§ 129B, 131. ⤴︎
  2. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§ 129B(6), 131E. ⤴︎
  3. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 121. ⤴︎
  4. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131E. ⤴︎
  5. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131A. ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎
  7. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 123 (Ninth). ⤴︎
  8. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131E. ⤴︎
  9. Id. ⤴︎
  10. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§ 129B, 131. ⤴︎
  11. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131F. ⤴︎
  12. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§§ 129B(1), 131(d), 131F. ⤴︎
  13. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 129B. ⤴︎
  14. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131. ⤴︎
  15. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§ 129B(2), 131(e). ⤴︎
  16. Id. ⤴︎
  17. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§ 129B(2), (3), 131(e). ⤴︎
  18. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131(e). ⤴︎
  19. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131E(b). ⤴︎
  20. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 129B(9). ⤴︎
  21. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131(i). ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in Michigan

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 handgun1 See the Michigan Concealed Weapons Permitting section for information about concealed handgun licenses.

Michigan law requires local law enforcement officials2 to issue handgun purchase licenses “with due speed and diligence” to qualified applicants, unless they have probable cause to believe that the applicant would be a threat to himself or herself or to other individuals, or would commit a criminal offense with the handgun.3 The criteria for qualifying for a handgun purchase license are outlined in the Michigan Prohibited Purchasers Generally section.

Applications for handgun purchase licenses must be signed by the applicant under oath upon forms provided by the director of the Department of State Police.4 Such licenses must be executed in triplicate upon forms provided by the director and signed by the licensing authority.5 Three copies of the license must then be delivered to the applicant by the licensing authority.6 A license is void unless used within 30 days after the date it is issued.7

If an individual purchases or otherwise acquires a handgun, the seller must fill out the license forms describing the handgun, together with the date of sale or acquisition, and sign his or her name in ink indicating that the handgun was sold to or otherwise acquired by the purchaser.8 The purchaser shall also sign his or her name in ink indicating the purchase or other acquisition of the pistol from the seller.9 The purchaser shall receive two copies of the license and return one copy to the licensing authority within 10 days after the date the handgun is purchased or acquired.10 The return of the copy to the licensing authority may be made in person or by first-class mail or certified mail sent within the 10-day period to the proper address of the licensing authority.11 A purchaser who fails to comply with the requirements of this subsection is responsible for a state civil infraction and may be fined up to $250.00.12 The licensing authority must also forward a copy of the license to the Department of State Police.13

See the Retention of Sales/Background Checks Records in Michigan section for further information.

A Michigan handgun purchase license holder is exempt from the federally required background check. For further information, see the Michigan Background Checks section.

See our Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. 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. ⤴︎
  2. I.e., the commissioner or chief of police of a city, township, or village police department, or the sheriff in the parts of a county not included within a city, township, or village having an organized police department, or their duly authorized deputies. Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 28.422(3). ⤴︎
  3. Id. ⤴︎
  4. Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 28.422(4). ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎
  7. Id. ⤴︎
  8. Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 28.422(5). ⤴︎
  9. Id. ⤴︎
  10. Id. ⤴︎
  11. Id. ⤴︎
  12. Id. ⤴︎
  13. Id. ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in Minnesota

Minnesota does not require a license to purchase or possess firearms. Persons who wish to purchase a handgun or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon may apply to the local chief of police or county sheriff for a transferee permit, although a transferee permit is not required for the purchase or transfer of such weapons.1 Minnesota law exempts a person exhibiting a transferee permit from the state requirement of a background check prior to the purchase of a handgun or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon from a federally licensed dealer.2  However, a transferee permit does not exempt the holder from the background check required by the federal Brady Act, 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 for a given state is subject to change without notice.

Upon application for a transferee permit, the police chief or sheriff has seven days to perform a background check as described under Background Checks in Minnesota.3 The police chief or sheriff must then either issue a permit or issue written notification of denial with the specific reason for the denial.4 A determination that an applicant is prohibited from possessing a handgun or semi-automatic military-style assault weapon under Minnesota Statutes § 624.713 is the only basis for refusal to grant a transferee permit.5 A valid permit to carry a handgun constitutes a transferee permit for purposes of transfer of these firearms.6

Once obtained, transferee permits expire after one year.7

See our Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Minn. Stat. §§ 624.7131, 624.7132. ⤴︎
  2. Minn. Stat. § 624.7131, subd. 10. ⤴︎
  3. Minn. Stat. § 624.7131, subd. 2, subd. 5. ⤴︎
  4. Minn. Stat. § 624.7131, subd. 5. ⤴︎
  5. Minn. Stat. § 624.7131, subd. 4. See Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Minnesota for a list of persons prohibited from possessing such weapons by Minn. Stat. § 624.713. ⤴︎
  6. Minn. Stat. § 624.7131, subd. 9. ⤴︎
  7. Minn. Stat. § 624.7131, subd. 6. ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in Nebraska

Nebraska allows a handgun transfer from a federally licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer to occur only if the transferee either presents the dealer with a handgun certificate or concealed weapons permit, or completes a consent form and passes a criminal background check.1 Persons wishing to obtain handguns through private sellers (non-firearms dealers) must obtain a handgun certificate or concealed weapons permit, and are therefore subject to a background check.2

However, a transferee may receive a handgun without a handgun certificate, concealed weapons permit, or background check if:

  • The transferee is a licensed firearms dealer under federal law;
  • The handgun is an antique;
  • The transferee is authorized to do so on behalf of a law enforcement agency;
  • The transfer is temporary and the transferee remains: (i) in the line of sight of the transferor; or (ii) within the premises of an established shooting facility;
  • The transfer is between a person and his or her spouse, sibling, parent, child, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or grandparent; or
  • The transferee is a peace officer.3

To obtain a handgun certificate, an applicant must apply to the local chief of police or sheriff.4 The permit application will be granted if the applicant is at least age 21 and is not prohibited from purchasing or possessing a handgun under federal or state law.5

A handgun certificate authorizes the holder to acquire any number of handguns during the period that the certificate is valid.6 The certificate becomes invalid three years after its effective date.7 The chief of police or sheriff who issued the certificate may revoke it if he or she determines that the applicant has become disqualified for the certificate.8

Nebraska has no law requiring a person to obtain a license or permit prior to purchasing a rifle or shotgun.

See our Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 69-2403, 69-2409, 69-2410. ⤴︎
  2. Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 69-2403, 69-2404. ⤴︎
  3. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 69-2403. ⤴︎
  4. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 69-2404. ⤴︎
  5. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 69-2405. ⤴︎
  6. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 69-2407. ⤴︎
  7. Id. ⤴︎
  8. Id. ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in New Jersey

Prior to purchasing a firearm in New Jersey, all prospective purchasers must obtain either a permit to purchase a handgun (one permit per handgun purchase), or a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FPIC) (one card allows unlimited rifle and shotgun purchases),1 from local law enforcement or the New Jersey State Police (NJSP).2 Applicants must provide their name, residence, place of business, age, date of birth, occupation, sex, physical description, distinguishing characteristics, as well as an extensive personal history.3 Both permits require the applicant to undergo a background check and waive confidentiality relating to any institutional confinement for a mental or psychiatric condition. For more on background checks and other criteria for obtaining a permit to purchase a handgun or FPIC, see the sections entitled Prohibited Purchasers Generally in New Jersey and Mental Health Reporting in New Jersey.

If an applicant qualifies for a permit to purchase a handgun or FPIC, the permit or FPIC shall be issued within 30 days from the date of receipt of the application, or within 45 days if the applicant is not a New Jersey resident.4

Once issued, a permit to purchase a handgun is valid for 90 days, and may be renewed for good cause for another 90 days.5 Prior to the time a permittee receives a handgun, he or she shall deliver the permit to the seller, and the seller shall enter all the information required on the permit form.6 The seller shall keep a copy as a permanent record, and deliver the completed permit (or copies) to local law enforcement and NJSP within five days of the date of sale.7

A FPIC is valid so long as the holder remains eligible to possess a firearm.8

See our Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-1.9. ⤴︎
  2. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3a, 3b, 3f, 3i. ⤴︎
  3. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3e. ⤴︎
  4. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3f. ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3h. ⤴︎
  7. Id. ⤴︎
  8. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3b, 3f, 3i; N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-1.7(a). ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in New York

New York generally requires anyone wishing to possess a handgun to first obtain a license, following a background check.1 Applications must be made to the licensing authority in the city or county where the applicant resides, is principally employed, or has his or her principal place of business.2 Current photographs and fingerprints must be supplied with the application to facilitate the background check process.3 Except upon written notice to the applicant, applications must be processed within six months.4

The license must include the licensee’s photograph and a coupon to be removed and retained by any person disposing of a handgun to the licensee.5 The license must specify the weapon by caliber, make, model, manufacturer’s name and serial number, and must indicate if the handgun may be carried on the person or possessed in a particular location.6 A person licensed to carry or possess a pistol or revolver may apply at any time to his or her licensing officer for amendment of the license to include more weapons or to cancel weapons held under license. If granted, a record of the amendment describing the weapons involved must be filed by the licensing officer with the State Police.7

To be eligible for a handgun license, the applicant must be a person who:

(a) is twenty-one years of age or older, provided, however, that where such applicant has been honorably discharged from the United States army, navy, marine corps, air force or coast guard, or the national guard of the state of New York, no such age restriction shall apply;

(b) is of good moral character;

(c) has not been convicted anywhere of a felony or a serious offense;

(d) is not a fugitive from justice;

(e) is not an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance as defined in section 21 U.S.C. 802;

(f) being an alien (i) is not illegally or unlawfully in the United States or (ii) has not been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa subject to the exception in 18 U.S.C. 922(y)(2);

(g) has not been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;

(h) has not renounced his or her United States citizenship;

(i) has stated whether he or she has ever suffered any mental illness;

(j) who has not been involuntarily committed to a facility under the jurisdiction of an office of the department of mental hygiene pursuant to article 9 or 15 of the mental hygiene law, article 732 or section 330.20 of the criminal procedure law, section 402 or 508 of the correction law, section 322.2 or 353.4 of the family court act, or has not been civilly confined in a secure treatment facility pursuant to article 10 of the mental hygiene law;

(k) who has not had a license revoked or who is not under a suspension or ineligibility order issued pursuant to the provisions of section 530.14 of the criminal procedure law or section 842-a of the family court act;

(l) in the county of Westchester, who has successfully completed a firearms safety course and test;

(m) who has not had a guardian appointed for him or her pursuant to any provision of state law, based on a determination that as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, mental illness, incapacity, condition or disease, he or she lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his or her own affairs; and

(n) no good cause exists for the denial of the license.8

Firearm Safety Training

In the county of Westchester only, at the time of application, the licensing officer to which the license application is made must provide a copy of the safety course booklet to each license applicant. Before the license is issued, the licensing officer must require that the applicant submit a certificate of successful completion of a firearms safety course and test affirmed by a duly authorized instructor.9

Duration & Recertification

Licenses are generally valid until revoked, but they have a fixed duration in New York City (three years) and in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties (five years). All licenses must be recertified to the Division of State Police every five years.  Licenses issued before January 15, 2013, must be recertified by the license holder on or before January 31, 2018 and not sooner than January 31, 2017.  New York state police must send a notice to all license holders who have not recertified by such time.  The recertification will ask for the license holder’s name, date of birth, gender, race, residential address, social security number, firearms possessed by the license holder, and an affirmation that the license holder is not prohibited from possessing firearms.  Failure to recertify a license will act as a revocation of the license.10

Location Limits

The license is valid throughout the state, except in New York City, where a special local permit granting validity is issued by New York City’s police commissioner.11

Disclosure of Information

New York law states that the name and address of any person to whom an application for any license has been granted is a public record.  However, every license applicant must be provided with a form that gives the applicant an opportunity to request an exception from his or her application information being a public record.  The form must provide each applicant an opportunity to specify the grounds on which he or she believes his or her application information should not be publicly disclosed.  The grounds for preventing public disclosure of the applicant’s information are:

  • The applicants life or safety may be endangered by disclosure because:
  • The applicant is an active or retired police officer, peace officer, probation officer, parole officer, or corrections officer;
  • The applicant is a protected person under a currently valid order of protection;
  • The applicant is or was a witness in a criminal proceeding involving a criminal charge;
  • The applicant is participating or previously participated as a juror in a criminal proceeding, or is or was a member of a grand jury; or
  • The applicant is a spouse, domestic partner, or household member of an applicant who has reason to believe his or her life or safety may be endangered by disclosure due to specified reasons stated by the applicant;
  • The applicant has reason to believe his or her life or safety may be endangered by disclosure due to reasons stated by the applicant;
  • The applicant has reason to believe he or she may be subject to unwarranted harassment upon disclosure of such information.

The form must also be made available to individuals who applied for a license before January 15, 2013.12

The information submitted on the exception form shall be exempted from disclosure and must be kept separate and apart from all other records by the entity retaining such information.13

Upon receiving a request for an exception from disclosure, the licensing officer must grant the exception, unless the request is determined to be null and void.  The request for exception may be submitted at any time, including after the license or recertification has been granted.  If the request is granted, the application information shall not be public record.14

Each form provided for firearm license recertification must include an opportunity for the applicant to request an exception from the information provided on such form becoming a public record.  The form must give the applicant an opportunity to either decline to request the exception or to specify the grounds of which he or she believes their information should not be publicly disclosed (the qualifying grounds are laid out above).15

If a request for an exception is determined to be null and void, a license applicant may request review of that determination pursuant to New York civil practice rules.  The proceeding must commence within 30 days after service of the written notice containing the determination that the request for exception is null and void.16

Even with a granted exception, the information on an application for a firearm license cannot be disclosed to the public during the first 120 days.  After January 15, 2013, the information for those who applied for a license before the exception form was made available, may be released on if such individuals did not file a request for an exception during the first 60 days following the availability of the exception form.17

Revocation

The conviction of a license holder anywhere of a felony or serious offense or the license holder becoming ineligible to obtain a license will operate as a revocation of the license.  A license may be revoked and cancelled at any time in the city of New York and in the counties of Nassau and Suffolk by the licensing officer and outside of the city of New York by any judge or justice of a court of record.  The official revoking a license must give written notice to the Executive Department, Division of State Police, Albany, and must also notify the local police authorities.18

Whenever the New York Director of Community Services makes a report regarding a mental health patient who may be a danger to himself, herself or others, the Division of Criminal Justice Services must convey such information the appropriate licensing authority when it determines that the person named in the report possesses a firearms license.  The licensing authority must then issue an order suspending or revoking the license.19

Whenever a person’s license is suspended or revoked, that person must surrender his or her license to the appropriate licensing official.  In addition, any and all firearms possessed by the person must be surrendered to an appropriate law enforcement agency.  If these firearms are not surrendered, law enforcement must remove all such weapons and declare them a nuisance.20

For more information on revocation procedures, see the Disarming Prohibited Persons section of our New York State Law Summary.

See our Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. N.Y. Penal Law §§ 265.00 et seq., 400.00, 400.01. ⤴︎
  2. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(3). ⤴︎
  3. Id., N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(4). ⤴︎
  4. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(4-a). ⤴︎
  5. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(7). ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎
  7. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(9). ⤴︎
  8. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(1). ⤴︎
  9. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(1)(f), (4-b). ⤴︎
  10. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(10). ⤴︎
  11. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(6). ⤴︎
  12. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(5)(a)-(b). ⤴︎
  13. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(5)(d). ⤴︎
  14. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(5)(e). ⤴︎
  15. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(5)(c). ⤴︎
  16. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(5)(g). ⤴︎
  17. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(5)(f). ⤴︎
  18. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(11)(a). ⤴︎
  19. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(11)(b). ⤴︎
  20. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(11)(c). ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in North Carolina

North Carolina law provides that no person may purchase or receive a handgun without a permit to purchase a handgun or a concealed handgun permit.1 Once obtained, a permit to purchase a handgun, issued by the sheriff of the county in which the purchaser resides, is valid for up to five years and may be used to purchase one handgun.2  To obtain a permit, an applicant must be a resident of the county in which he or she is applying, unless the purpose of the permit is for collecting, in which case a sheriff can issue a permit to a nonresident.3  North Carolina law also provides that a permit will be denied to any applicant who falls into certain categories of prohibited persons.4 See the section on Prohibited Purchasers Generally for a list of these categories.

The sheriff must verify, before the issuance of a permit to purchase, that it is not a violation of state or federal law for the applicant to purchase, transfer, receive, or possess a handgun. The sheriff must determine the criminal and background history of any applicant by:

  • Accessing computerized criminal history records as maintained by the State Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation;
  • Conducting a national criminal history records check;
  • Conducting a check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS); and
  • Conducting a criminal history check through the Administrative Office of the Courts.5

An applicant must also present evidence that he or she is of good moral character, however, a 2015 law prohibits sheriffs from examining an applicant’s conduct or criminal history from more than five years before the date of application.6 The applicant must satisfy the sheriff that he or she desires the handgun for protection, target shooting, collecting or hunting.7 The sheriff must inform the applicant whether he or she is granting or denying a license within 14 days of the application.8

The sheriff of each county must keep a record of all permits to purchase a handgun, including the name, date, place of residence, and age of each person to whom a permit is issued.9

New residents of North Carolina do not need a license to bring their handguns into the state.

See our Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-402. ⤴︎
  2. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-403. ⤴︎
  3. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-404(a). ⤴︎
  4. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-404. ⤴︎
  5. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-404(a)(1). ⤴︎
  6. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-404(a)(2). ⤴︎
  7. Id. at (a)(3). ⤴︎
  8. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-404(f). ⤴︎
  9. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-405. ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in Rhode Island

To purchase a handgun, any person who does not have a concealed handgun license must present to the seller a safety certificate issued by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM).1 This certificate can be obtained by completing a minimum two-hour basic handgun safety course administered by DEM.2

See our Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-47-35(a)(1), 11-47-35.1. ⤴︎
  2. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-35(b)-(d). ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia does not have a specific licensing requirement, but the District’s registration system serves the same purpose by limiting who can purchase or own firearms, requiring a background check, and requiring that gun owners meet the standards set by the Chief of Police regarding responsible firearm use and knowledge of District gun laws.1 See the District of Columbia Registration, Background Checks and Prohibited Purchasers Generally sections for further information.

See our Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. D.C. Code Ann. §§ 7-2502.01, 7-2502.03, 7-2502.06(a). ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in Washington

Washington has no law requiring gun owners or purchasers to obtain a license.

In Washington, every city, town, and political subdivision of the state is prohibited from requiring the purchaser of a firearm to secure a permit to purchase, or from requiring a firearms dealer to secure an individual permit for each sale.1

See our Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.110(12). ⤴︎