State Background Checks for Guns

Background Checks in South Carolina

Posted on Friday, June 26th, 2015

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

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not unlicensed sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

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

Federal law does not require dealers to conduct a background check if a firearm purchaser presents a state permit to purchase or possess firearms that meets certain conditions.2 As a result, concealable weapons permit holders in South Carolina are exempt from the federal background check requirement.3 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or carry firearms if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.).

In 2012, South Carolina repealed its modest state law requirement that a person buying a handgun from a dealer present identification.4

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

  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map. []
  2. Federal law exempts persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms from background checks if those permits were issued: 1) within the previous five years in the state in which the transfer is to take place; and 2) after an authorized government official has conducted a background investigation, including a search of the NICS database, to verify that possession of a firearm would not be unlawful. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). []
  3. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (June 10, 2014), at: https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/permanent-brady-permit-chart. []
  4. 2012 S.C. Act No. 285. []

Background Checks in Tennessee

Posted on Monday, June 8th, 2015

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 38-6-109 and 39-17-1316 for greater detail on TBI’s processing of criminal background checks. []
  2. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-315. []
  3. See 18 U.S.C. § 922. []
  4. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(a)(1). []
  5. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(f). []
  6. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(c). []
  7. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(g). []
  8. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(n). []
  9. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(p). []
  10. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1316(o). []

Background Checks in North Carolina

Posted on Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

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

Federal law does not require dealers to conduct a background check if a firearm purchaser presents a state permit to purchase or possess firearms that meets certain conditions.3 As a result, holders of permits to purchase handguns and concealed weapons permits in North Carolina are exempt from the federal background check requirement.4 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or permit firearms – and pass background checks – if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.)

Private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) are not required to conduct background checks when transferring a long gun in North Carolina, although federal and state laws prohibiting certain persons from purchasing or possessing firearms still apply. See the North Carolina Private Sales section.

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

 

  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map (last visited Jun. 2, 2015). []
  2. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-404. []
  3. Federal law exempts persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms from background checks if those permits were issued: 1) within the previous five years in the state in which the transfer is to take place; and 2) after an authorized government official has conducted a background investigation, including a search of the NICS database, to verify that possession of a firearm would not be unlawful. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). []
  4. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Jun. 2, 2015), at https://www.atf.gov/content/firearms/firearms-industry/permanent-brady-permit-chart. []

Background Checks in Virginia

Posted on Monday, May 18th, 2015

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

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

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

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

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

The DSP must generally process each dealer’s background check request “during the dealer’s call [to the DSP], or by return call without delay.”3 Virginia law provides that most background checks must be processed by the end of the following business day, or the dealer is free to complete the transfer.4 A Virginia administrative regulation requires a dealer who processes a transfer because he or she has not received a response from the DSP by the end of the dealer’s next business day, to notify DSP of the transfer by telephone.5

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

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

  1. Bureau of Justice Statistics Survey of State Procedures Related to Firearm Sales, 2005 (November 2006) and Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:2. []
  2. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:2(B)(1). []
  3. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:2(B)(2). []
  4. Id. []
  5. 19 Va. Admin. Code § 30-100-10(A). Non-residents seeking to purchase a handgun are treated differently, and the DSP is allowed up to 10 days to process background checks in those situations. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:2(C). See 6 Va. Admin. Code §§ 20-130-10—20-130-100, and 19 Va. Admin. Code §§ 30-100-10—30-100-110 for additional information regarding the procedures used to perform background checks in Virginia. []

Background Checks in Ohio

Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2015

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

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

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

Ohio does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See our Private Sales policy summary.

  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map (last visited May 11, 2015). []

Background Checks in Arizona

Posted on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

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

Federal law does not require dealers to conduct a background check if a firearm purchaser presents a state permit to purchase or possess firearms that meets certain conditions.2 As a result, concealed weapon permit holders in Arizona are exempt from the federal background check requirement when purchasing a handgun.3 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or permit firearms if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.)

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

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

  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map. []
  2. Federal law exempts persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms from background checks if those permits were issued: 1) within the previous five years in the state in which the transfer is to take place; and 2) after an authorized government official has conducted a background investigation, including a search of the NICS database, to verify that possession of a firearm would not be unlawful. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). []
  3. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart at: https://www.atf.gov/content/firearms/firearms-industry/permanent-brady-permit-chart. []

Background Checks in Nebraska

Posted on Thursday, April 30th, 2015

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

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

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

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

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

Federal law does not require dealers to conduct a background check if a firearm purchaser presents a state permit to purchase or possess firearms that meets certain conditions.3 As a result, handgun purchase certificate holders and concealed weapons permit holders in Nebraska are exempt from the federal background check requirement when purchasing a handgun.4 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or permit firearms if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.)

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

  1. Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 69-2403, 69-2409, 69-2410, 69-2411, 69-2431. []
  2. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 69-2431.  See also, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Section Point of Contact States and Territories, at http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/nics/poclist.htm (last updated July 1, 2008). []
  3. Federal law exempts persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms from background checks if those permits were issued: 1) within the previous five years in the state in which the transfer is to take place; and 2) after an authorized government official has conducted a background investigation, including a search of the NICS database, to verify that possession of a firearm would not be unlawful. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). []
  4. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (last updated Aug. 26, 2011), at: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/brady-law/permit-chart.html. []
  5. Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 69-2403, 69-2404, 69-2431. []

Background Checks in Wyoming

Posted on Thursday, April 30th, 2015

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

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

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

Federal law does not require dealers to conduct a background check if a firearm purchaser presents a state permit to purchase or possess firearms that meets certain conditions. As a result, Wyoming concealed weapons permit holders are exempt from the federal background check requirement when purchasing a firearm.2 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state firearms licenses if the state fails to remove these licenses in a timely fashion).

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

  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map. []
  2. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Aug. 26, 2011), at: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/brady-law/permit-chart.html. []

Background Checks in Oklahoma

Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

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

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

Oklahoma does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See our Private Sales policy summary.

  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map. []

Background Checks in Vermont

Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2015

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

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

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

Vermont does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See our Private Sales policy summary.

  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map (last visited Feb. 2, 2012). []