See our Background Check Procedures policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)
New Mexico is not a point of contact state for NICS. New Mexico has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background check prior to selling a firearm. In New Mexico, all firearms transfers by licensed dealers are processed directly through the FBI, which enforces the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.1
In 2019, New Mexico passed a law, effective July 1, 2019, that requires private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to conduct firearm sales through a federally licensed dealer who performs a background check pursuant to federal law.2 For more information, see our page on Private Sales in New Mexico.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, accessed May 8, 2019, https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/nics-participation-map.pdf/view. ⤴︎
- 2019 NM SB 8. ⤴︎