Updated October 5, 2010

The information on this page supplements the material provided in LCAV’s Firearms Policies summaries.

Ammunition Regulation

California: A recently enacted California bill requires persons or businesses engaged in the retail sale of handgun ammunition to: 1) maintain records containing certain identifying information about the purchaser and the ammunition being sold; and 2) store handgun ammunition so that it is inaccessible to purchasers without the assistance of the vendor. The law also requires that ammunition sales be completed in face-to-face transactions, prohibits persons subject to gang injunctions from possessing ammunition, and prohibits ammunition sales to any person the seller knows or has cause to believe is prohibited from possessing ammunition.

Virginia: Virginia recently enacted a law that prohibits ammunition possession by convicted felons (mirroring federal law).

 

Assault Weapons

District of Columbia: The District recently enacted the Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008. The new law specifically bans assault weapons. Prior law banned assault weapons indirectly via a broad definition of “machine gun” that encompassed many firearms typically classified as assault weapons. (Note also that the ban on handguns, now repealed, effectively banned assault pistols.) The new law narrows the definition of machine gun and provides a definition of assault weapon that includes a list of named weapons and a one-feature generic definition. Assault weapons (as well as machine guns) are unregisterable under the new law.

The District retained its law imposing strict tort liability on manufacturers, importers and dealers of assault weapons for all damages arising from the discharge of an assault weapon. Assault weapon was previously defined, for purposes of this provision, by a list of named weapons. The new law uses the new definition of assault weapon (described above) for this provision.

Background Checks

California: A recently enacted California bill requires persons or businesses engaged in the retail sale of handgun ammunition to maintain records containing certain identifying information, including the purchaser’s thumbprint, and the ammunition being sold. In addition, the law requires that ammunition sales be completed in face-to-face transactions. See the Ammunition Regulation in California section for other provisions of the new law.

Tennessee: Tennessee recently removed the requirement that the purchaser of a firearm provide a thumbprint as part of the background check process when purchasing from a dealer.

 

Carrying Firearms

Federal: In May 2009, the U.S. Congress voted to approve, and the President signed, the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009, despite a completely unrelated amendment enabling the possession of firearms in national parks. That amendment prohibits the U.S. Department of the Interior from restricting the possession of a firearm in any national park or national wildlife refuge by any person in compliance with the law of the state in which the park or refuge is located. The amendment undoes a rule adopted by the Reagan Administration that prohibited the possession of a firearm in a national park or wildlife refuge unless the weapon was kept in the owner’s lodging or vehicle and was unloaded and either rendered inoperable or stored in a manner to prevent ready use. The bill is scheduled to take effect in February 2010.

In 2009, the federal government adopted dangerous legislation that will allow guns to be transported in checked baggage on Amtrak trains. The Wicker Amendment, sponsored by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), was enacted as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, and will allow Amtrak riders to transport handguns, provided they declare the guns to Amtrak personnel and transport the guns unloaded within a securely locked container. Amtrak must implement procedures for the storage of firearms in checked baggage cars and at Amtrak stations that accept checked baggage by December 2010. This provision replaces Amtrak policy prohibiting firearms and ammunition in carry-on or checked luggage implemented following the 2004 Madrid, Spain, train bombings that killed 191 people and wounded 1,800. Guns on Amtrak pose public safety risks, including susceptibility to theft or loss, an increase in the risk of a mass shooting on a train, and an increase in the risk of unintentional discharge within luggage. The prohibition on firearms in checked baggage will remain in place until the end of 2010.

Alabama: Alabama recently enacted a law that makes the name, address, and signature of an applicant for a concealed weapons license or of a licensee confidential.

Arizona: Arizona recently adopted a bill that allows individuals to carry concealed firearms in public without a license or permit. Prior Arizona law required concealed weapon holders to apply for a license, pass a background check, and obtain firearms safety training. Only two other states, Vermont and Alaska, allow concealed weapons to be carried without a license.

A recently enacted Arizona law amends the prohibition against carrying a firearm into an establishment where alcohol is sold. Previously, a person was guilty of this crime only if he or she knew firearms were not permitted in the establishment. The new law removes the knowledge requirement. However, a person will only be found guilty under the new law if the retailer has posted a sign that clearly prohibits firearms on the premises. The law provides affirmative defenses if:

  • The person was not informed of the notice prior to the violation;
  • The sign had fallen down at the time of the violation; or
  • At the time of the violation, the sign had been posted for thirty days or less.

In addition, only concealed carry permit holders may carry firearms where alcohol is served.

Another new Arizona law prohibits property owners, tenants, employers and businesses from barring transportation or storage of a firearm in a locked, privately owned vehicle so long as the firearm is not visible from the outside of the vehicle.

Delaware: Delaware recently adopted a law that increases concealed weapons license application fees and extends the term of validity for new licenses from two to three years and the term of validity for renewal licenses from three to five years.

District of Columbia: In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008), the District enacted the Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008 which repeals the District’s handgun ban. The District also enacted the Inoperable Pistol Amendment Act of 2008. This law repeals the District’s concealed carry licensing law and prohibits the carrying of long guns outside the home. The law allows firearms to be carried by a registrant inside their home or place of business, while being used for recreational purposes, or while being transported for lawful purposes. The law also provides requirements for transportation of firearms that conform to the transportation requirements provided by federal law.

Georgia: Georgia recently amended its law regulating the carrying of concealed weapons. The new law allows carrying firearms in establishments that sell alcohol for consumption on the premises, parks, some areas of airports, sporting events and the parking facilities of government entities, courthouses, jails, prisons, places of worship and bars. In addition, the law allows the carrying of long guns without a permit. Unloaded long guns may be carried concealed; loaded long guns must be carried openly.

Idaho: A recently enacted law makes confidential any information relating to a retired law enforcement officer that is maintained or received pursuant to a concealed weapon permit or application for a permit.

Illinois: Illinois adopted a law in 2009 that provides an exception to the current prohibition against carrying firearms. The exception allows individuals to carry a firearm in a legal dwelling or on land upon which the person is an invitee if given permission to carry a firearm by the owner.

Indiana: A recently adopted Indiana law prohibits any person from adopting or enforcing any rule that prohibits an employee of the person from possessing a firearm locked in the trunk of the employee’s vehicle, kept in the glove compartment of the employee’s locked vehicle, or stored out of plain sight in the employee’s locked vehicle.

Another new Indiana law makes handgun carry license applicant and license holder information confidential.

Iowa: A recent Iowa law removed law enforcement discretion from the concealed weapon permit issuance process. Another law requires that a firearm’s attached magazines must be unloaded when carried in a vehicle on a public highway (in addition to the firearm being disassembled or contained in a locked case).

Kansas: A recently enacted Kansas law creates an exception to the crime of trafficking in firearms or ammunition in a correctional institution or care and treatment facility. The exception allows concealed weapon permit holders to possess guns or ammunition in a parking lot on their person or in a locked vehicle.

Louisiana: A new Louisiana law allows concealed weapons to be carried in houses of worship and expands the duration of concealed weapon permits from four to five years. Another new Louisiana law removes the prohibition that firearms may not be carried within 1,000 feet of a school. In addition, firearms may now be carried in state parks, state historic sites, state preservation areas, and other areas under the control of the office of state parks.

Maine: Maine recently adopted a law specifying that if there is an objection to the issuance of an initial permit to carry a firearm to a person who would otherwise be prohibited from doing so, the objection must be provided to the Commissioner of Public Safety in writing and, as is currently provided, the Commissioner may not issue the permit. This law also provides that the reason for the objection must be communicated in writing to the Commissioner in order for it to be the sole basis for denial.

Minnesota: A new Minnesota law creates an exception to the existing requirement that firearms transported in a vehicle be unloaded and in a case or the vehicle’s trunk. The exception allows transportation of unloaded, uncased long guns while at a shooting range, while hunting, or while traveling to or from a site at which the person has hunted or intends to hunt on that day.

Mississippi: Mississippi recently adopted a statute permitting concealed weapons permit holders to carry firearms in state parks.

Missouri: A new Missouri law allows firearm possession by intoxicated individuals so long as the firearm is not used in a negligent or unlawful manner or discharged (except in self-defense).

Montana: Montana now allows open carrying of firearms and prohibits landlords and hotel or motel operators from preventing a tenant or a guest of a tenant from possessing a firearm on the premises.

Nebraska: A new Nebraska law creates recognition of some out-of-state concealed weapon permits and creates an exception to the existing prohibition against carrying firearms in schools and other sensitive locations for guns in motor vehicles in public parking lots.

New Mexico: A recently-enacted New Mexico law allows concealed handguns in some restaurants that sell beer and wine.

North Dakota: A recently-adopted law allows individuals, including non-concealed weapon permit holders, to openly carry firearms in public parks. Permits are still required to carry a concealed firearm.

Oklahoma: In 2009, Oklahoma created a concealed weapon permit that is valid for ten years.

South Carolina: South Carolina recently enacted a law allowing concealed weapon permittees to carry guns on elementary, secondary and post-secondary school property if they are stored as specified in an attended or locked motor vehicle.

Tennessee: In 2010, legislation was enacted that allows firearms to be carried in establishments that serve alcohol for consumption on the premises so long as the individual is not consuming alcohol while carrying a firearm. The legislation repealed a similar provision enacted in 2009 that was found to be unconstitutionally vague by a state court.

Another new Tennessee law allows handgun carry permittees to carry handguns within the boundaries of any state park. The law allows local jurisdictions to opt out of the law as applied to parks owned or operated by the jurisdiction. Several local jurisdictions, including Memphis and Nashville, have done so. Handgun carry permittees in Tennessee may now carry handguns in a refuge, public hunting area, wildlife management area or on national forest land and may possess unloaded long guns in motor vehicles and loaded long guns in motor vehicles if ammunition is inserted for purposes of justifiable self-defense.

Finally, another new Tennessee law denies handgun carry permits to applicants with specified mental health histories.

Texas: Texas enacted a law in 2009 that creates an affirmative defense to prosecution for the offense of unlawful carrying of a handgun by a license holder on the premises of certain businesses if the offender was not given notice that carrying a firearm was prohibited.

Utah: A new Utah law removes the requirement that a concealed carry permit applicant demonstrate good character. Utah also recently enacted a law that prevents any person or entity from establishing a policy that prohibits firearms in vehicles on any property designated for motor vehicle parking. Exceptions include school and residential building parking areas. In addition, a person may restrict firearms in a parking lot if an alternate parking location or a secured and monitored firearm storage area is available. Another new Utah law allows both concealed weapon permit holders and non-concealed weapon permit holders to carry an unloaded firearm in a glove box or console box of a vehicle and to carry loaded or unloaded firearms at their residences (including a temporary residence or “camp”) and on their real property.

Virginia: Virginia enacted a measure that allows concealed weapon permit holders to carry firearms in establishments that serve alcohol for on-premises consumption. Another new law allows any person who may lawfully possess a firearm to carry a handgun while in a personal, private motor vehicle or vessel if the handgun is secured in a container or compartment. Virginia also enacted a law providing that a conviction from another state for driving while intoxicated or for drunkenness in public within the preceding three years disqualifies an individual from obtaining a concealed weapon permit.

Virginia also recently enacted a law allowing concealed weapon permit applicants to satisfy safety course requirements online. Another 2009 law makes some concealed weapon permit application information confidential.

 

Child Access Prevention

District of Columbia: In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008) striking down the District’s firearms storage requirement, the District enacted the Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008. This law repeals the District’s requirement that any firearm in the home be unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device. The new law requires that a person who stores a firearm and knows, or reasonably should know, that a child under 18 years of age is likely to gain access to the firearm must store the firearm in a locked container or secure location. There is an exception if the firearm is carried on the person or in close proximity to the person. An increased penalty is imposed if a person violates this provision and a child gains access to the firearm and causes injury or death.

 

Dealer Regulations

California: A recently enacted California law requires persons or businesses engaged in the retail sale of handgun ammunition to: 1) maintain records containing certain identifying information about the purchaser and the ammunition being sold; and 2) store handgun ammunition so that it is inaccessible to purchasers without the assistance of the vendor. The law also requires that ammunition sales be completed in face-to-face transactions and prohibits ammunition sales to any person the seller knows or has cause to believe is prohibited from possessing ammunition.

 

Design Safety Standards for Handguns

District of Columbia: In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008), the District enacted the Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008. The law repealed the District’s handgun ban that was struck down by the Court in Heller. The new measure provides that a handgun may not be manufactured, sold, given, loaned, exposed for sale, transferred, or imported into the District of Columbia unless it is listed on the California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale. This roster is published and maintained by the California Department of Justice and includes only handgun models that have been tested by a certified testing laboratory and determined not to be unsafe. The new District law authorizes the District’s Chief of Police to revise the roster through the rulemaking process.

 

Domestic Violence & Firearms

Illinois: In 2009, Illinois enacted a law that requires law enforcement to revoke or deny a Firearm Owner’s Identification card (required for possession of a firearm or ammunition in Illinois) from/to a person subject to a domestic violence protective order in certain situations.

Iowa: A new Iowa law prohibits a person who is the subject of a no‑contact order or a protective order, or who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, from possessing, transferring, or selling firearms and ammunition, and provides mechanism for surrendering weapons to law enforcement.

Maryland: A recently enacted Maryland law requires a final domestic violence protective order to compel the subject of the order to surrender all firearms in his or her possession and to refrain from possessing guns for the duration of the order. Another new Maryland law authorizes a judge entering a temporary protective order, including an ex parte order, to require the subject to surrender firearms and refrain from possessing a firearm for a certain period of time under certain circumstances. Both laws require law enforcement to transport and store the firearms that are surrendered.

Michigan: Michigan recently passed a lawl that provides additional grounds under which a domestic violence protection order may be granted which restricts possession of firearms.

Nebraska: Nebraska enacted a law in 2009 that prohibits domestic violence misdemeanants and subjects of domestic violence protection orders from possessing firearms and expands the definition of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

North Dakota: North Dakota recently enacted a law requiring courts to order domestic violence perpetrators to surrender firearms to law enforcement in certain situations.

Oklahoma: A recently enacted Oklahoma law prohibits release of a defendant arrested for violating an ex parte or permanent protective order without first appearing before a judge to determine whether he or she has access to deadly weapons and/or a history of use of deadly weapons.

Tennessee: A new Tennessee law requires subjects of domestic violence protection orders to surrender all firearms to law enforcement and imposes a misdemeanor for such persons to posses a firearm.

 

Fifty Caliber Rifles

District of Columbia: The recently-enacted Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008 prohibits registration of fifty caliber rifles.

 

“Firearms Freedom Acts”

Alaska: Alaska recently enacted a law stating that certain firearms, firearm accessories and ammunition that are manufactured in and remain in the state are exempt from federal regulation.

Arizona: Arizona enacted a law that declares that firearms and ammunition manufactured in Arizona that “remain in the state” are not subject to federal firearms laws.

Montana: Montana has declared firearms and/or ammunition manufactured, sold and possessed in the state exempt from federal firearms laws. The Montana Shooting Sports Association and the Second Amendment Foundation have announced plans to file suit to enforce this law. On July 16, 2009, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives published an open letter to licensed firearms dealers and manufacturers in Montana. The letter clarifies that federal recordkeeping and background check requirements, as well as all other federal requirements and prohibitions, continue to apply in Montana, despite the new law. The Montana Shooting Sports Association and the Second Amendment Foundation have filed suit in U.S. District Court to enforce the law.

Tennessee: A recent Tennessee law declares firearms and/or ammunition manufactured, sold and possessed in the state exempt from federal firearms laws.

Utah: Utah recently adopted a law providing that any firearm or firearm‑related item manufactured in Utah and kept in the state is not subject to federal firearms laws.

 

Imitation/Toy Guns

Arkansas: Arkansas recently enacted a law that prohibits the sale of imitation firearms that do not meet specified color and other design criteria.

 

Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines

District of Columbia: The recently-enacted Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008 provides that no person may possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device. Large capacity ammunition feeding device is defined as a “magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition.”

 

Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers

Illinois: In 2009, Illinois enacted a law that requires law enforcement to revoke or deny a Firearm Owner’s Identification card (required for possession of a firearm or ammunition in Illinois) from/to a person subject to a domestic violence protective order in certain situations.

Nebraska: A new Nebraska law exempts concealed weapon permit holders from the requirement to obtain a permit prior to purchase of a handgun.

 

Locking Devices

District of Columbia: In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008), the District enacted the Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008. The law repeals the District’s requirement that any firearm in the home be unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device. The new law requires that a person who stores a firearm and knows, or reasonably should know, that a child under 18 years of age is likely to gain access to the firearm must store the firearm in a locked container or secure location unless it is carried on the person or in close proximity to the person.

 

Machine Guns

Connecticut: A recently enacted Connecticut law prohibits any person from selling, giving or otherwise transferring a machine gun to a person under 16 years of age. The statute expressly states that there is no exception for the temporary transfer of a machine gun to a person under 16 for use in target shooting or on a shooting range “or for any other purpose.”

 

Microstamping & Ballistic Identification

District of Columbia: The recently-enacted Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008 requires that any handgun manufactured after January 1, 2011 be equipped with microstamping technology and requires a ballistics identification procedure as part of the process for registering a firearm.

 

Mental Health Reporting

California: A new California law requires that mental health designations reported to the California Department of Justice be sent electronically.

Idaho: Idaho also enacted a new law that requires mental health records to be sent electronically to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Maine: Maine recently enacted a law that requires mental health facilities to include, in discharge procedures, information regarding patient access to firearms and notification to the patient, the patient’s family, and caregivers, that possession by the person to be discharged is prohibited by federal law. The new law also requires increased law enforcement training and awareness of mental illness and the involuntary commitment process and increased sharing of mental health patients’ information by mental health professionals to law enforcement.

Minnesota: Minnesota recently enacted a law requiring that records regarding persons civilly committed, found not guilty by reason of mental illness, or incompetent to stand trial be transmitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (used for background checks of prospective firearm purchasers). The law authorizes certain individuals prohibited by state law from possessing a firearm to petition a court for restoration of this privilege.

New Jersey: A recent New Jersey law amends the process for reporting mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Nevada: Nevada now requires courts to transmit certain records of adjudication concerning a person’s mental health to the state’s databases, which then must forward the records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The law also establishes procedures for petitioning a court to regain certain rights relating to the purchase or possession of a firearm.

Tennessee: A new Tennessee law requires submission of mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, adds categories to the state’s prohibited purchaser law, and denies handgun carry permits to applicants with specified mental health histories.

Texas: A recently-adopted law requires submission of mental health records to the Department of Public Safety for further submission to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and provides a process for petitioning for relief from disabilities due to mental health history.

Washington: Washington recently added to the types of involuntary commitments that result in a prohibition on firearm possession. The new law requires a court committing a person or finding a person not guilty by reason of insanity or guilty of an offense that would result in prohibition on firearm possession to forward, within three days, relevant records to the state database and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The law also requires notice to patients that commitment results in firearm prohibition and provides a system for petitioning for relief from disability.

Wisconsin: A new Wisconsin law requires that mental health records be sent to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The law also requires state courts, when making certain mental health-related dispositions, to determine whether the disposition renders a defendant prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm and, if so, to order him or her not to possess firearms and to order seizure of his or her firearms.

 

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess Firearms

Connecticut: A recently enacted Connecticut law prohibits any person from selling, giving or otherwise transferring a machine gun to a person under 16 years of age. The statute expressly states that there is no exception for the temporary transfer of a machine gun to a person under 16 for use in target shooting or on a shooting range “or for any other purpose.”

 

Local Authority to Regulate Firearms

Arizona: A new Arizona law adds to the list of firearms-related activities that are preempted from local regulation and repeals some of the exceptions to local preemption.

Nebraska: A 2009 Nebraska law removes local authority to enact ordinances regulating concealed handguns and voids existing local ordinances. Nebraska now also prohibits local governments from regulating shooting ranges.

Texas: Texas recently enacted a law that prohibits municipalities located in certain counties from regulating the discharge of firearms in extraterritorial jurisdictions or annexed areas. There are some exceptions for land that is located near sensitive areas such as schools and residential areas.

 

Private Sales

California: A recently enacted California bill requires persons or businesses engaged in the retail sale of handgun ammunition or holding themselves out as in the business of selling handgun ammunition to: 1) maintain records containing certain identifying information about the purchaser and the ammunition being sold; and 2) store handgun ammunition so that it is inaccessible to purchasers without the assistance of the vendor. The law also requires that ammunition sales be completed in face-to-face transactions and prohibits ammunition sales to any person the seller knows or has cause to believe is prohibited from possessing ammunition. See the Ammunition Regulation in California section for other provisions of the new law.

 

Prohibited Purchasers

California: A recently enacted California bill prohibits persons subject to gang injunctions from possessing ammunition. See the Ammunition Regulation in California section for other provisions of the new law.

Colorado: A new Colorado law removes the automatic repeal, which would have occurred on July 1, 2010, of a provision that prohibits firearms transfers to any person who has been arrested or charged with certain crimes.

Tennessee: A new Tennessee law adds to the categories of individuals who may not purchase or possess a firearm under state law.

Washington: Washington recently added to the types of involuntary commitments that result in a prohibition on firearm possession.

 

Registration of Firearms

District of Columbia: In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008) striking down the District’s ban on registration of handguns, the District enacted the Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008. The new law allows registration of handguns, but adds to the categories of individuals who may not register. In addition, firearms must be re-registered every three years. Only one handgun may be registered in a 30-day period and registration of a characteristics-based class of assault weapons and 50 caliber weapons is prohibited. See relevant sections of this document for more details about the latter provisions.

 

Restrictions on Multiple Purchases or Sales of Firearms

District of Columbia: In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008) striking down the District’s ban on registration of handguns, the District enacted the Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008. The new law allows registration of handguns, but only one handgun may be registered by the same person per every 30-day period.

New Jersey: New Jersey recently enacted a law that prohibits individuals from purchasing more than one handgun in a 30-day period and prohibits dealers from selling more than one handgun to the same person in a 30-day period.

Two laws adopted in 2010 amend provisions of New Jersey’s one-handgun-a-month law:

  • One new law exempts from the one-handgun-a-month law any person who: 1) purchases from a person who obtained the handguns through inheritance or intestacy; 2) is a collector of handguns and has a legitimate reason or justification to purchase or otherwise receive multiple handguns; or 3) participates in lawfully sanctioned handgun shooting competitions and has a legitimate reason or justification to obtain multiple handguns.
  • The other new law clarifies that certain transfers of handguns are not subject to the one-handgun-a-month limitation, including transfers between or to dealers and manufacturers.

Retention of Sales & Background Check Records

California: A recently enacted California law requires persons or businesses engaged in the retail sale of handgun ammunition to maintain records containing certain identifying information about the purchaser and the ammunition being sold. See the Ammunition Regulation in California section for other provisions of the new law.

Virginia: Virginia repealed a law that authorized counties to require handgun sellers to submit sales records to county circuit courts. The law now requires destruction of all such records already maintained.

 

Trace Data (Tiahrt)

Federal: The Tiahrt Amendments are annual riders attached to U.S. Department of Justice appropriations bills since 2003 that significantly restrict law enforcement’s ability to investigate gun crimes and prosecute corrupt gun dealers. The amendments currently:

  • Prohibit ATF from fully releasing firearm trace data for use by cities, states, law enforcement, researchers, litigants and members of the public;
  • Require the FBI to destroy all approved purchaser records within 24 hours; and
  • Prohibit ATF from requiring gun dealers to submit inventories to law enforcement.

Restrictions on Crime Gun Trace Data: The Tiahrt Amendments prohibit ATF from disclosing firearm trace data except to law enforcement in connection with and for use in a criminal investigation or prosecution, or to a federal agency for national security or intelligence purposes. In addition, the provision renders all gun trace data immune from legal process and inadmissible in non-ATF administrative proceedings or civil actions.

The amendments also preclude disclosure of trace data to members of the public, including researchers and litigants in lawsuits against the gun industry. ATF may, however, publish statistical information regarding gun trafficking in aggregate form. This aggregate data is crucial to the investigation and prosecution of gun traffickers because it assists law enforcement in understanding the flow of illegal guns across jurisdictional boundaries.

Mandatory 24-Hour Destruction of Gun Purchaser Records: The Tiahrt Amendments require the FBI to destroy all approved gun purchaser records within 24 hours of approval, making it extremely difficult for ATF to quickly and efficiently trace crime guns or retrieve firearms from prohibited persons who are mistakenly sold guns.

Prohibition on Gun Dealer Inventories: The Tiahrt Amendments prohibit ATF from requiring gun dealers to submit inventories. Gun dealer inventories facilitate enforcement of the federal law requiring dealers to report the loss or theft of a gun and help law enforcement oversee the more than 50,000 firearms dealers nationwide.

In February 2009, LCAV wrote a letter to President Obama urging the repeal of the Tiahrt Amendments. For more information on the Tiahrt Amendments, see LCAV’s summary of the issue.

 

Trafficking

California: A recently enacted California law prohibits ammunition sales to any person the seller knows or has cause to believe is prohibited from possessing ammunition. See the Ammunition Regulation section for other provisions of the new law.

Tennessee: A new Tennessee law creates a misdemeanor for purchase or attempted purchase of a firearm by a prohibited person and for sale or attempted sale to a known prohibited person.

Texas: A new law enacted in Texas provides civil and criminal penalties for the crime of “firearms smuggling” which is committed when a person transports or transfers a firearm, on more than one occasion or for profit, knowing the firearm was acquired illegally.

West Virginia: A recently enacted West Virginia law creates a crime for knowingly soliciting, persuading, encouraging or enticing a firearms dealer or private firearms or ammunition seller to transfer a firearm or ammunition unlawfully (there is an exception for law enforcement acting in their official capacity).

 

Waiting Periods

District of Columbia: In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008) striking down the District’s ban on registration of handguns, the District enacted the Inoperable Pistol Amendment Act of 2008 and the Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008. Together these laws repeal the ban on handgun registration but extend the waiting period before a handgun may be delivered to a purchaser from 48 hours to ten days.

South Dakota: South Dakota recently repealed the state’s 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases.

 

Other Significant Legislation

Idaho: A recently enacted law allows residents of states that are not contiguous to Idaho to purchase long guns in Idaho. Likewise, residents of Idaho may now purchase long guns from states that are not contiguous to Idaho.

Oklahoma: A recently enacted state law allows residents of states that are not contiguous to Oklahoma to purchase long guns in Oklahoma. Likewise, residents of Oklahoma may now purchase long guns from states that are not contiguous to Oklahoma.

Tennessee: A 2009 Tennessee law creates a misdemeanor for the purchase or attempted purchase of a firearm by a prohibited person and for sale or attempted sale to a known prohibited person.

Vermont: A recently enacted law allows residents of states that are not contiguous to Vermont to purchase long guns in Vermont. Likewise, residents of Vermont may now purchase long guns from states that are not contiguous to Vermont.