State Background Checks for Guns

Background Checks in New Mexico

Posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 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.)

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 purchasing 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

New Mexico 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.

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 Mar. 2012). []

Background Checks in Arkansas

Posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 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.)

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 Maine

Posted on Thursday, July 16th, 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.)

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

Maine 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.

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. []

Background Checks in Alabama

Posted on Monday, July 13th, 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.)

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 Kentucky

Posted on Thursday, July 9th, 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 National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

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

Kentucky 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.

Brady Exemption

In Kentucky, concealed weapons permit holders whose permits were issued on or after July 12, 2006, qualify as exempt from background checks for five years when purchasing a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the Brady Act.2 Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination for a given state is subject to change without notice.3

 

  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 Jul. 9, 2015). []
  2. Under federal law, persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms are exempt 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. []
  3. Note also 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. []

Background Checks in Florida

Posted on Tuesday, July 7th, 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 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

Florida law provides definitions of the terms “adjudicated mentally defective” and “committed to a mental institution.” Most individuals in these categories are prohibited by federal law from possessing or purchasing firearms.4 Persons involuntarily committed for outpatient treatment are included within the definition of “committed to a mental institution.”5

In 2013, Florida enacted a law that includes a person taken into custody involuntarily for a mental health evaluation and subsequently voluntarily admitted to a mental institution for outpatient or inpatient treatment in the definition of  “committed to a mental institution” if:  (1) an examining physician has determined that the person poses an imminent danger to himself, herself, or others and has certified that he or she would have filed a petition for involuntary commitment if the person had not agreed to voluntary treatment; (2) the person has been given notice and an opportunity to contest this certification; and (3) a court has reviewed this certification and ordered the person’s record to be submitted.6

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.7 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.8

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.9

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.10 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.11 FDLE must continue its attempts to obtain the disposition information and may retain a record of all approval numbers granted without sufficient disposition information.12 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.13 During the time that disposition of the indictment, information, or arrest is pending, the conditional nonapproval number remains in effect.14

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.15 However, Florida concealed weapons license holders are not exempt from the federal background check requirement.16

  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 Jul. 08, 2015). []
  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). []
  5. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(a)(4)(a). []
  6. See Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(a)(4)(b)(II). []
  7. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(a). []
  8. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(b). []
  9. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(1). []
  10. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(2). []
  11. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(3). []
  12. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(7). []
  13. Id. []
  14. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(c)(8). []
  15. Fla. Stat. § 790.065(1)(b). []
  16. 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 Colorado

Posted on Sunday, July 5th, 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 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, whenever a person is denied, he or she may request a review of the denial, and “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 CBI must also charge a fee for performing a background check.  The funds that are collected pursuant to this provision are subject to annual appropriation by the General Assembly for the direct costs associated with performing background checks.9

Colorado requires unlicensed sellers (sellers who are not federally licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See Universal Background Checks in Colorado for further information.  Also see our Universal Background Checks 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 and https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/permanent-brady-state-lists. []
  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. § 24-33.5-424(3.5). []

Background Checks in Indiana

Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 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.)

Indiana is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Indiana law explicitly requires dealers to conduct a background check prior to transferring a handgun, by contacting the FBI directly.1 Although Indiana has no law explicitly requiring firearms dealers to initiate a background check prior to transferring a long gun, the federal law requires dealers to initiate a background check prior to the transfer of any kind of gun by contacting the FBI directly.2

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

Indiana 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. Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-2.5-4(a). []
  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 (last visited Oct. 24, 2011). []

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). []