Private Sales in Texas

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

Texas has no law requiring a background check on the purchaser of a firearm when the seller is not a licensed dealer. Texas law does, however, state that a person commits a Class A misdemeanor if he or she:

  • Sells, rents, leases, loans, or gives a handgun to any person knowing that the person to whom the handgun is to be delivered intends to use it unlawfully or in the commission of an unlawful act;
  • Intentionally or knowingly sells, rents, leases, or gives or offers to sell, rent, lease, or give a firearm to any child younger than age 18. It is an affirmative defense to this charge that the transfer was to a minor whose parent or legal custodian had given written permission for the sale or, if the transfer was other than a sale, the parent or legal custodian had given effective consent. This offense rises to the level of a “state jail felony” (the lowest class of felony under state law) if the firearm involved is a handgun;
  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly sells a firearm or ammunition to any person who is intoxicated;
  • Knowingly sells a firearm or ammunition to any person who has been convicted of a felony before the fifth anniversary of the later of: 1) the person’s release from confinement following conviction of the felony; or 2) the person’s release from supervision under community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision following conviction of the felony;
  • Sells, rents, leases, loans, or gives a handgun to any person knowing that an active protective order is directed to the person to whom the handgun is to be delivered; or
  • Knowingly purchases, rents, leases, or receives as a loan or gift a handgun while an active protective order is directed to the person.1
Notes
  1. Tex. Penal Code § 46.06(a). ⤴︎

Private Sales in the District of Columbia

Private sellers in the District of Columbia must have a registration certificate in order to lawfully transfer a firearm.1 See the District Registration of Firearms section. Even where private sellers are so eligible, they may transfer registerable firearms2 only to licensed dealers.3

In addition, no person may sell a handgun to a person: 1) not of sound mind; 2) prohibited from possessing a firearm by any of the specific prohibited categories under D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4503 (see the District of Columbia Prohibited Purchasers Generally section); or 3) under age 21, unless the seller is the parent or guardian of the purchaser.4 Any person who knowingly or intentionally transfers a firearm or ammunition to someone under age 18 shall be fined up to $10,000, imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both.5

The District also prohibits the use of firearms or ammunition as security for a mortgage, deposit or pledge, and prohibits loaning, borrowing, giving, or renting a firearm or ammunition to or from another person.6

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

Notes
  1. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2502.01(a). ⤴︎
  2. Unregisterable firearms, such as machine guns, assault weapons, .50 BMG rifles or certain unsafe handguns, among others, cannot be registered and therefore cannot be transferred. See D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2502.02. ⤴︎
  3. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2505.02(a). The District has other transfer restrictions that apply to all sellers of firearms in the district. These appear to apply only to licensed dealers, however. Sellers must wait to deliver a firearm to a purchaser after 10 days have elapsed from the time of application (except for transfers to certain law enforcement officers). D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4508. Firearms must be transported safely and lawfully (See D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4504.02.) D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4508. Prior to transfer, purchasers must sign in duplicate and deliver to the seller a statement containing his or her full name, address, occupation, color, place of birth, the date and hour of application, the caliber, make, model, and manufacturer’s number of the firearm to be purchased and a statement that the purchaser is not forbidden by D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4503 from possessing a firearm. D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4508. The seller shall, within six hours after such application, sign and attach his or her address and deliver a copy to the Chief of Police, and retain the other copy for six years. D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4508. ⤴︎
  4. D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4507. ⤴︎
  5. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2507.06(1). ⤴︎
  6. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2507.01. ⤴︎

Private Sales in Utah

Private firearms transfers (i.e., transfers by individuals not licensed as dealers) are not subject to a background check requirement in Utah.

In 2012, Utah enacted a law prohibiting transfer of a firearm to a person that the seller knows is prohibited under Utah law from possessing firearms.1

See the Firearms Trafficking in Utah section for laws aimed at gun trafficking.

Utah prohibits the sale of any firearm to a person under age 18 unless he or she is accompanied by a parent or guardian.2

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

 

Notes
  1. Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-503(8). ⤴︎
  2. Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-509.9. ⤴︎

Private Sales in Vermont

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

In 2018, Vermont enacted legislation to close the dangerous “private sale” loophole by requiring most gun sales or transfers to be processed by a licensed firearms dealer, pursuant to a point-of-sale background check.1

Subject to certain exceptions (discussed below), Vermont’s law now requires an unlicensed seller and prospective recipient to appear together with the firearm at the premises of a licensed dealer to request that the dealer process the sale or transfer and conduct the required background check.2  The dealer will then take possession of the firearm and complete the sale or transfer in the same manner as the dealer would if selling the firearm from his or her own inventory, meaning that the dealer will conduct a background check on the prospective recipient and maintain a record of the firearm sale or transfer.3  The dealer may charge a reasonable fee for conducting the background check and processing the gun transfer.4  The dealer must return the gun to the seller if the prospective recipient does not pass the background check.5

Vermont’s exempts certain sales or transfers from these requirements, including:6

(1) the transfer of a firearm by or to a law enforcement agency;

(2) the transfer of a firearm by or to a law enforcement officer or a member of the U.S. Armed Forces acting within the course of his or her official duties;

(3) the transfer of a firearm from one immediate family member to another immediate family member;7 or

(4) a person who transfers the firearm to another person in order to prevent imminent harm to any person, provided that this exception only applies while the risk of imminent harm exists.

This 2018 law also makes it a crime, in connection with the transfer or attempted transfer of a firearm, to knowingly make a false statement or exhibit a false identification intended to deceive a licensed dealer with respect to any fact material to the transfer of the firearm.8  

 

Notes
  1. See Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019, enacted by 2017 SB 55, Sec. 6. ⤴︎
  2. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(b). ⤴︎
  3. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(c)(1). ⤴︎
  4. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(c)(3). ⤴︎
  5. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(c)(2). ⤴︎
  6. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(e). ⤴︎
  7. “Immediate family member” means a spouse, parent, stepparent, child, stepchild, sibling, stepsibling, grandparent, stepgrandparent, grandchild, stepgrandchild, greatgrandparent, stepgreatgrandparent, greatgrandchild, and stepgreatgrandchild. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(a)(2). ⤴︎
  8. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(b)(2). ⤴︎

Private Sales in Virginia

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

Virginia has no law requiring a background check on the purchaser of a firearm when the seller is not a licensed dealer. Virginia law does, however, prohibit any person from selling, bartering, giving or furnishing, or having in his or her possession or under his or her control with the intent of selling, bartering, giving or furnishing, any firearm to any person he or she knows is:

  • A person acquitted by reason of insanity and committed to the custody of the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services on a charge of: 1) treason; 2) any felony; or 3) certain misdemeanors;
  • Convicted of a felony;
  • Not a citizen of the United States and not lawfully present in the United States;
  • Under the age of 29 and was found guilty as a juvenile (14 years of age or older) of a delinquent act which would be a felony if committed by an adult; or
  • Under 18 years of age, if the firearm is a handgun, assault firearm, or shotgun (“which will hold more than seven rounds of the longest ammunition for which it is chambered”).1

This prohibition does not apply if the person has had his or her eligibility to purchase or possess a firearm restored under Virginia law.2

In 2016, Virginia enacted a law requiring the Department of State Police to be available at gun shows in order to facilitate voluntary background checks requested by either party to a transaction if the seller is an unlicensed individual.3 See Gun Shows in Virginia for more information.

Notes
  1. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:1. See also Va. Code Ann. §§ 18.2-308.2(A), 18.2-308.7. ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. Va. Code Ann. § 54.1-4201.2 as amended by 2016 VA H 1386/S 715. ⤴︎

Private Sales in Washington

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

In 2014, Washington became the first state to enact a law requiring background checks on private sales by voter initiative.1 The law requires private buyers and sellers to conduct a firearms transaction through a federally licensed firearm dealer (FFL). The FFL must process the transaction as if the dealer were selling the firearm from his or her own inventory and comply with all federal and state laws regulating firearms dealers, such as performing the required background check on the purchaser (see the Washington Background Checks section).2

Some transfers between non-licensed sellers and buyers are exempt from the background check requirement including:3

  • Bona fide gift transfers between spouses, domestic partners, parents, parents-in-law, children, siblings, siblings-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, first cousins, aunts, and uncles;
  • Transfers of antique firearms;
  • Transfers to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm so long as the temporary transfer lasts only as long as immediately necessary to prevent such imminent death or great bodily harm. The transferee must not prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law;
  • Transfers to certain law enforcement agencies or officers who are acting within the course and scope of their employment or official duties;
  • A transfer to or from a federally licensed gunsmith who receives a firearm solely for the purposes of service or repair;
  • Certain types of temporary transfers such as those between spouses or domestic partners or at a shooting range; and
  • As of July 23, 2017, temporary transfers if: (i) The transfer is intended to prevent suicide or self-inflicted great bodily harm; (ii) the transfer lasts only as long as reasonably necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm; and (iii) the firearm is not utilized by the transferee for any purpose for the duration of the temporary transfer.

The FFL may not transfer the firearm to the purchaser until either the purchaser clears the background check or ten business days have elapsed from the date the FFL requested the background check, whichever occurs first.4 For transfers of handguns to individuals without valid Washington driver’s licenses or state identification card or who have not been a resident of the state for the previous consecutive ninety days, the FFL may not deliver the handgun until the transferee passes a background check or 60 days have elapsed since the date of the request, whichever occurs first.5

When a Washington resident buys a long gun out-of-state, or sells a long gun to an out-of-state resident, the buyer and seller must follow the procedures of the background checks law.6 FFLs may not sell or deliver a handgun to a resident of another state.7 (See our Dealer Regulations federal policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of laws regulating federally licensed firearms dealers.)

 

Notes
  1. See Initiative Measure No. 594, available at http://sos.wa.gov/_assets/elections/initiatives/FinalText_483.pdf. ⤴︎
  2. Rev. Code Wash. § 9.41.113. ⤴︎
  3. Rev. Code Wash. § 9.41.113(4). ⤴︎
  4. Rev. Code Wash. § 9.41.113. ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎
  7. 18 U.S.C. § 922(b)(1), (3). ⤴︎

Private Sales in West Virginia

Private firearms transfers (i.e., transfers by individuals who are not licensed dealers) are not subject to a background check requirement in West Virginia. No person may knowingly sell, rent, give or lend a firearm to a person prohibited by federal or state law from possessing firearms.1

West Virginia prohibits any person from publicly displaying or offering for sale or rent any firearm or ammunition where a passerby on a street, road or alley can see it.2

Moreover, any person who gives or sells to any patient legally committed to a state hospital, whether on the hospital premises or elsewhere, any firearm, is criminally liable for a misdemeanor.3

Finally, any person who gives or sells, or aids or abets any other person to give or sell, to any young person in a state youth correctional facility, whether on the premises of such institution or otherwise, any firearm, is criminally liable for a misdemeanor.4

See the section entitled Firearms Trafficking in West Virginia for laws aimed at gun trafficking.

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

Notes
  1. W. Va. Code § 61-7-10(d). ⤴︎
  2. W. Va. Code § 61-7-10(a). ⤴︎
  3. W. Va. Code § 27-12-3. ⤴︎
  4. W. Va. Code § 28-1-8. ⤴︎

Private Sales in Wyoming

Private firearms transfers (i.e., transfers by individuals other than licensed dealers) are not subject to a background check requirement in Wyoming.

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

Universal Background Checks in Colorado

In Colorado, almost all firearm transfers between unlicensed persons must be processed by a licensed firearms dealer, subjecting the prospective purchaser to a background check.

Colorado requires private gun sellers who are not federally licensed dealers to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. With the exceptions listed below, any unlicensed individual who seeks to transfer possession of a firearm to a prospective transferee must:  1) require that a background check is conducted on the prospective transferee by a licensed gun dealer; and 2) obtain approval of the transfer from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) following the background check request.1

If the transferee is an entity (e.g. a business), then a background check must be conducted on each person who is authorized by the entity to possess a firearm.2

When a licensed dealer obtains a background check on a prospective transferee, the dealer must record the transfer and retain the records in the same manner as when conducting a sale, rental or exchange at retail. The dealer must also provide the transferor and transferee with a copy of the results of the background check, including CBI’s approval or disapproval of the transfer.3

A dealer may charge a fee of up to $10 for conducting a background check for an unlicensed seller.4

A transferee cannot accept possession of the firearm from an unlicensed seller until CBI approves the transfer. The transfer must be completed within 30 days of that approval.5

A transferee is prohibited from knowingly providing false information to a prospective transferor or to a licensed dealer for the purpose of acquiring a firearm.6

These transfer provisions do not apply to, inter alia:

  • A bona fide gift or loan between immediate family members;
  • A transfer that occurs by operation of law or because of the death of a person for whom the prospective transferor is an executor or administrator of an estate or a trustee of a trust created in a will;
  • A transfer that is temporary and occurs while in the home of the unlicensed transferee if:
    • The unlicensed transferee is not prohibited from possessing firearms; and
    • The unlicensed transferee reasonably believes that possession of the firearm is necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury to the unlicensed transferee;
  • A temporary transfer of possession without power of ownership or a title to ownership, which takes place:
    • At a shooting range located in or on premises owned by a duly incorporated organization organized for conservation purposes or to foster proficiency in firearms;
    • At a target firearm shooting competition under the auspices of, or approved by, a state agency or a nonprofit organization; or
    • While hunting, fishing, target shooting, or trapping if:
      • Legal in all places where the unlicensed transferee possesses the firearm; and
      • The unlicensed transferee holds any license or permit that is required for such activity;
  • A transfer of a firearm that is made to facilitate the repair or maintenance of the firearm, except that all parties who possess the firearm as part of such transaction must be able to legally possess a firearm;
  • Any temporary transfer that occurs while in the continuous presence of the owner of the firearm;
  • A temporary transfer for not more than 72 hours. A person who makes such a temporary transfer may be jointly and severally liable for damages proximately caused by the transferee’s subsequent unlawful use of the firearm; or
  • A member of the armed services who will be deployed outside of the U.S. in the next 30 days, to any immediate family member.7

When a person violates the above transfer requirements, the violation is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor and the person must be prohibited from possessing a firearm for two years, beginning on the date of his or her conviction.8 When a person is convicted, the State Court Administrator must report the conviction to CBI and to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The report must include information indicating that the person is prohibited from possessing a firearm for two years, beginning on the date of his or her conviction.9

See the Background Checks in Colorado section for further information about the procedure.

In Colorado, a person is criminally liable if he or she:

  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly provides a handgun to any person under age 18;
  • Knows of a juvenile’s unlawful possession of a handgun and fails to make reasonable efforts to prevent the juvenile’s conduct;
  • Is aware of a substantial risk that a juvenile will use a handgun to commit a felony and permits the juvenile to possess a handgun;
  • Is aware of a substantial risk that a juvenile will use a handgun to commit a felony and fails to make reasonable efforts to prevent the commission of the offense;
  • Sells, rents, or transfers ownership of a long gun to a juvenile without the consent of his or her parent or guardian. This prohibition also applies to a person who allows unsupervised possession of a long gun to a juvenile without the consent of the juvenile’s parent or guardian;10 or
  • Violates the unlicensed transfer requirements by, for example, failing to have a licensed dealer conduct a background check on the transferee. A person violating the private transfer requirements can be held jointly and severally liable for any civil damages proximately caused by the transferee’s subsequent use of the firearm.11

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

Notes
  1. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-112(1)(a). ⤴︎
  2. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-112(1)(b), (2)(A). ⤴︎
  3. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-112(2)(b), (c). ⤴︎
  4. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-112(2)(d). ⤴︎
  5. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-112(3)(a), (4). ⤴︎
  6. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-112(3)(b). ⤴︎
  7. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-112(6). ⤴︎
  8. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-112(9)(a). ⤴︎
  9. Id. ⤴︎
  10. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-108.7. ⤴︎
  11. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-112. ⤴︎