State Background Checks for Guns

Background Checks in Alabama

Posted on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

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.)

Alabama is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Alabama law simply reiterates the federal requirement that firearms dealers must initiate background checks through NICS prior to transferring firearms.1 As a result, in Alabama, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.2 Alabama law also independently requires licensed handgun dealers to view a purchaser’s identification before transferring a handgun.3

Alabama does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See the Alabama Private Sales section.

  1. Ala. Code § 41-9-649. []
  2. 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. []
  3. Ala. Code § 13A-11-79. []

Background Checks in Alaska

Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

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.)

Alaska is not a point of contact state for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Alaska has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Alaska, 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, holders of concealed weapons permits marked NICS-Exempt in Alaska 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 permit firearms if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.)

Alaska 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 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 (July 3, 2008), at: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/brady-law/permit-chart.html. []

Background Checks in Arizona

Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

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: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/brady-law/permit-chart.html. []

Background Checks in Arkansas

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

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.)

Arkansas is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Arkansas has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Arkansas, 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 Arkansas 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.)

Arkansas 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. 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: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/brady-law/permit-chart.html. []

Background Checks in California

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

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. This background check is intended to determine whether the purchaser falls into one of the categories of persons prohibited by law from purchasing or possessing firearms. 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.)

California authorizes, but does not require, the California Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to act as a point of contact “to the extent that funding is available.”1 Since funding is available, California is a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks. Firearms dealers must therefore initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting DOJ.

California law requires any prospective purchaser of (or transferee or person being loaned) a firearm to submit an application to purchase the firearm (also known as a “Dealer Record of Sale” or “DROS” form) through a licensed dealer to DOJ. The dealer must submit firearm purchaser information to DOJ on the date of the application through electronic transfer, unless DOJ makes an exception allowing a different format.2 The purchaser must present “clear evidence” of his or her identity and age to the dealer (either a valid California driver’s license or a valid California identification card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles).3 Dealers must obtain the purchaser’s name, date of birth, and driver’s license or identification number electronically from the magnetic strip on the license or ID card.4 This information cannot be supplied by any other means except as authorized by DOJ.5

In addition to checking the federal NICS database, DOJ is required to examine its records, as well as those records that it is authorized to request from the State Department of Mental Health to determine whether the person is prohibited from possessing firearms.6 If the person is prohibited from possessing firearms, DOJ must notify the dealer and the local sheriff or chief of police.7 In addition to a mandatory ten-day waiting period, DOJ has the authority to place a firearm sale on hold until all background check information is received and the check is completed to DOJ’s satisfaction. Licensed dealers are prohibited from delivering a firearm to a purchaser or transferee if the dealer has been notified by DOJ that the person is prohibited from possessing firearms.8 If the person is prohibited from possessing firearms, the dealer must make available to the prohibited person a DOJ “Prohibited Notice and Transfer” form, stating that the person is prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm and that the person may obtain from DOJ the reason for the prohibition.9

In addition, when a purchaser or transferee seeks to obtain a handgun, he or she must present documentation indicating California residency.10 Sufficient documentation includes a utility bill from within the last three months, a residential lease, a property deed, military permanent duty station orders indicating assignment within California, or other evidence of residency as permitted by DOJ.11

Note that holders of California entertainment firearms permits are exempt from the requirement of a background check, due to a loophole in federal law. For further information, see the Licensing of Gun Owners and Purchasers in California section below.

Voluntary background checks: Any person may request a voluntary determination, called a “firearms eligibility check,” from DOJ stating whether he or she is eligible to possess a firearm.12 With few exceptions, no person or agency may require or request another person to obtain a firearms eligibility check.13 DOJ is authorized to charge a fee of $20 for conducting each check.14

Firearms in police custody: Any person claiming title to any firearm in the custody or control of a court or law enforcement agency who wishes to have the firearm returned must undergo a background check to determine if he or she is eligible to possess a firearm.15 If an individual does not seek return of a firearm, or if he or she fails to pass the background check, the person must relinquish the firearm and, if the firearm is an otherwise legal firearm and the person otherwise has the right to title of the firearm, he or she may relinquish it by selling it or transferring title to a licensed dealer.16

Private sales: With limited exceptions, all firearms transfers must be conducted through a licensed dealer.17 For more information, see the Private Sales in California section below.

  1. Cal. Penal Code § 28220. []
  2. Cal. Penal Code § 28205. []
  3. Cal. Penal Code §§ 16400, 26815, 28215. Dealers are prohibited from transferring handguns to persons under age 21, or any other firearm to persons under the age of 18. See Cal. Penal Code § 27510. []
  4. Cal. Penal Code § 28180. []
  5. Id. []
  6. Cal. Penal Code § 28220. []
  7. Id. []
  8. Cal. Penal Code § 26815. []
  9. Cal. Penal Code § 26815. []
  10. Cal. Penal Code § 26845. []
  11. Id. []
  12. Cal. Penal Code § 30105. []
  13. Cal. Penal Code § 30105. []
  14. Cal. Penal Code § 30105. []
  15. Cal. Penal Code § 33850. []
  16. Cal. Penal Code §§ 33850, 33870(a). []
  17. See Cal. Penal Code § 27545 et seq. []

Background Checks in Colorado

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Updated July 1, 2013

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 National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Colorado is a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks.1 In Colorado, all firearm transfers by licensed dealers are processed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which enforces federal, as well as state, purchaser prohibitions.2

Colorado requires CBI to transmit a request for a background check in connection with the prospective transfer of a firearm to the NICS system and authorizes CBI to search other databases. CBI must deny a transfer of a firearm to a prospective transferee if the transfer would violate federal or state law.3

Colorado denies a prospective firearm purchaser’s application if the background check cannot be completed within the three-day default period. More specifically, Colorado law provides that an application for a firearm purchase must be denied in cases in which there has been no final disposition or the final disposition is not noted in the NICS or state databases, where the applicant:  1) has been arrested for or charged with a crime that would prohibit him or her from purchasing, receiving or possessing a firearm under state or federal law; or 2) is the subject of an indictment, an information, or a felony complaint alleging that the prospective transferee has committed a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.4 However, “the inability of the bureau to obtain the final disposition of a case that is no longer pending shall not constitute the basis for the continued denial of the transfer.”5

Colorado law explicitly provides access to juvenile delinquency court and probation records for firearm background check purposes.6 Colorado law also provides procedures for appeal of a denial of a firearm transfer.7

CBI must adopt rules to carry out these duties.8

Colorado requires private sellers (sellers who are not federally licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. Any private person 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 CBI after a background check has been requested by a licensed gun dealer.9

When a licensed dealer obtains a background check on a prospective transferee, the dealer must record the transfer and retain the records as 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 the CBI’s approval or disapproval of the transfer.10

A transferee cannot accept possession of the firearm from a private seller until CBI approves a transfer.  The transfer must be completed within 30 days of that approval.11

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.12

See Private Sales in Colorado for further information.  Also see our Private Sales policy summary for related information.

  1. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(2). 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. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(2). []
  3. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(3)(a). []
  4. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(3)(b). []
  5. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(5)(c). []
  6. Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 19-1-304(1)(a)(VII.5), (1)(c)(II.5), (2)(a)(II.5). []
  7. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(5). []
  8. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-33.5-424(7). See 8 Colo. Code Regs. § 1507-20. []
  9. Colo. Rev. Stat § 18-12-112(1)(a). 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. Colo. Rev. Stat § 18-12-112(1)(b), (2)(A). []
  10. Colo. Rev. Stat § 18-12-112(2)(b), (c). []
  11. Colo. Rev. Stat § 18-12-112(3)(a), (4). []
  12. Colo. Rev. Stat § 18-12-112(3)(b). []

Background Checks in Connecticut

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

(Last updated July 12, 2013)

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.)

Connecticut is a point-of-contact state for NICS. In Connecticut, all firearms transfers by licensed dealers are processed through the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (“DESPP”).1

In Connecticut, a person, firm or corporation who seeks to sell a long gun at retail or a handgun (whether a licensed dealer or private seller) must:

  • Have the transferee complete a written application and retain the application for at least 20 years or until he or she goes out of business;
  • Make the application available for inspection during normal business hours by law enforcement;
  • Transfer only to a transferee he or she knows personally or who presents appropriate identification (handguns only);
  • Obtain an authorization number from DESPP; and
  • Wait two weeks from the date of application before transferring the firearm (long guns only, until April 1, 2014).2

DESPP must make reasonable “effort,” including a search of NICS, to determine if the applicant is eligible to receive a firearm.3

Private (unlicensed) individuals may not purchase or receive a firearm unless such person holds a: 1) permit to carry a pistol or revolver; 2) eligibility certificate for a pistol or revolver; 3) permit to sell at retail a pistol or revolver; or 4) long gun eligibility certificate.  These permits are issued following a background check by DESPP on the applicant.4 See the Private Sales in Connecticut section.

Prior to the transfer of any firearm at a gun show, the transferee must undergo a background check.5 See the Gun Shows in Connecticut section for more information.

To obtain an ammunition certificate, allowing a person to purchase ammunition in Connecticut, a person must request this certificate from the DESPP commissioner.6 After conducting the criminal history records check of the person using only their name and date of birth, the commissioner must issue the ammunition certificate unless the person is ineligible for a long gun eligibility certificate.7

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

  1. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-36l(d)(1). See also 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 July 8, 2013). []
  2. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 29-33(a), (c), 29-37a(d). []
  3. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 29-33(c), 29-37a(d). []
  4. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 29-28(b), 29-36f, 29-36g, 29-38g, 29-38h. []
  5. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-37g(c). []
  6. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-38l(a). []
  7. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-38l(b). []

Background Checks in Delaware

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Updated July 1, 2013

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 a prospective 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.)

Delaware is not a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks. In Delaware, all firearms transfers by licensed dealers are processed directly through the FBI, which enforces the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.1 Delaware law provides that a licensed firearms dealer may not sell, transfer or deliver any firearm to another unlicensed person until the dealer has conducted a background check.2 Delaware requires unlicensed sellers to request a licensed dealer to facilitate a firearms transaction, including conducting a background check, prior to transferring a firearm to another unlicensed person.3

Delaware also requires the following agencies or entities to submit to the NICS system clinical mental health and other information to comply with federal laws relating to the purchase or transfer of firearms:

  • The Delaware Psychiatric Center and any other hospital as defined in Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5001(4). Such information shall include only names and other nonclinical identifying information of persons so committed;4
  • Hospitals and residential centers;5
  • Institutions to which individuals are committed for criminal convictions, declarations of not guilty by reason of mental illness, or declarations of incompetency to stand trial for criminal offenses, or for involuntarily commitments for mental illness;6 and
  • The Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.7
  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 June 14, 2013). []
  2. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448A(a), (g). []
  3. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(a). []
  4. Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5161(b)(14). []
  5. Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5161(b)(13)(g). []
  6. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 8509 []
  7. Del. Code Ann. tit. 29, § 9017(c). []

Background Checks in the District of Columbia

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

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.)

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

The Chief of Police initiates backgrounds checks for the issuance of registration certificates, which are required to own and take possession of a firearm in the District.2

In the District, any private (i.e., unlicensed) firearm seller must have a registration certificate in order to lawfully transfer a firearm;3 private sellers may transfer lawful firearms to only licensed dealers.4 See the District of Columbia Private Sales section for further information.

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 Apr. 3, 2012). []
  2. D.C. Code Ann. §§ 7-2502.01, 7-2502.03, 7-2502.06(a), 7-2505.02(c). []
  3. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2502.01(a). []
  4. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2505.02(a). The District has other transfer restrictions that ostensibly apply to all sellers of firearms, but for practical purposes apply only to licensed dealers. 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. []

Background Checks in Florida

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

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 National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Florida is a point of contact state for the NICS. As a result, firearms dealers in Florida must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).1 More specifically, Florida law prohibits a licensed dealer from selling or delivering a firearm from his or her inventory at his or her licensed premises to anyone except a licensed dealer, importer, or manufacturer, without:

  • Obtaining a completed form from the buyer or transferee, and inspecting proper photographic identification;
  • Calling the FDLE and requesting a check of “the information as reported and reflected in the Florida Crime Information Center and National Crime Information Center systems as of the date of the request;” and
  • Receiving a unique approval number from FDLE and recording that number and the date on the form.2

Upon receiving a request for a background check, the FDLE is required to review any available records to determine if the buyer or transferee is prohibited from purchasing a firearm because he or she has been:

  • Convicted of a felony;
  • Convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; or
  • “Adjudicated mentally defective” or “committed to a mental institution” by a court.3

(Note that individuals in these categories are prohibited by federal law from possessing or purchasing firearms.) Florida law provides definitions of the terms “adjudicated mentally defective” and “committed to a mental institution.”4 For information about the restoration of firearm eligibility for persons previously adjudicated mentally defective or committed to a mental institution, please see the Florida Mental Health Reporting section.

In addition, the FDLE must review available records to determine if the buyer or transferee has had adjudication of guilt withheld or imposition of sentence suspended on any felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence unless three years have elapsed since probation or any other conditions set by the court have been fulfilled or expunction has occurred.5 If any of these disqualifying conditions exist, the FDLE must inform the dealer that the buyer or transferee is prohibited from purchasing a firearm and must provide the licensee a nonapproval number.6

The FDLE must also review available records and issue a conditional nonapproval number if the buyer or transferee:

  • Has been indicted or has had an information filed against her or him for a felony;
  • Is subject to a domestic violence protective order, or an injunction against repeat violence; or
  • Has been arrested for one of 22 enumerated “dangerous crime[s]” or for criminal anarchy, extortion, certain explosives violations, certain controlled substances violations, resisting an officer with violence, certain weapons and firearms violations, treason, assisting self-murder, sabotage, stalking or aggravated stalking.7

The FDLE then has 24 “working hours” (3 business days) in which to determine the disposition of the indictment, information, or arrest and inform the dealer as to whether the potential buyer is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm.8 Florida law requires the clerk of court to respond to an FDLE request for data on the disposition of the indictment, information, or arrest as soon as possible, but in no event later than 8 working hours.9 FDLE must continue its attempts to obtain the disposition information and may retain a record of all approval numbers granted without sufficient disposition information.10 If FDLE later obtains disposition information indicating that the person is prohibited from possessing a firearm, FDLE must revoke the conditional approval number and notify law enforcement.11 During the time that disposition of the indictment, information, or arrest is pending, the conditional nonapproval number remains in effect.12

Neither federal nor Florida law requires private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm.

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

In addition, Florida specifically exempts concealed weapons license holders from the state’s background check requirement.13 However, Florida concealed weapons license holders are not exempt from the federal background check requirement.14

  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. 29, 2012). []
  2. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(1). Under Fla. Stat. § 790.065(10), a licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer is not required to comply with the background check requirements of Fla. Stat. § 790.065 in the event of unavailability of telephone service at the licensed premises, or failure of FDLE to comply with the requirements of Florida law pertaining to firearm purchaser background checks. []
  3. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2). []
  4. See Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(a)(4)(a), (b). Persons involuntarily committed for outpatient treatment are now included within the definition of “committed to a mental institution.” Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(a)(4)(a). []
  5. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(a). []
  6. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(b). []
  7. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(1). []
  8. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(2). []
  9. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(3). []
  10. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(7). []
  11. Id. []
  12. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(8). []
  13. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(1)(b). []
  14. 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. []