Private Sales in Arizona

Arizona has no law requiring a background check on the purchaser of a firearm when the seller is not a licensed dealer, although no person may knowingly sell or transfer a deadly weapon to a prohibited possessor.1 All sales are also subject to Arizona’s age restrictions. Arizona has no other laws regulating the manner in which guns are sold.

Furthermore, in 2016, the legislature passed a law that prohibits the state or any political subdivision from enacting or implementing any additional fee, tax, assessment, lien, or other encumbrance on the transfer of a firearm between two private, unlicensed parties who are not prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law.2

See our Private Sales Policy Summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3102(A)(5).
  2. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 44-7852.

Private Sales in Virginia

See our Private Sales policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue. Please note that some of the laws referenced below were enacted in 2016 and may not yet be in effect.

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

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 New York

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

New York law requires a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check by a licensed firearms dealer prior to any transfer, sale, exchange, or disposal of a firearm, except between immediate family members.  The dealer must provide a report of the NICS background check to the state.

A record of the NICS check must be maintained by the dealer (for no specified period) for inspection by any peace or police officer.  The record is not considered a “public record.”  A dealer may require that any transfer conducted under these provisions be subject to a fee of not more than $10.00.  A violation of these provisions is punishable as a misdemeanor.1 A license to possess a handgun must specify each handgun the license holder owns.2  License holders who obtain additional handguns must apply to amend their licenses to specify those handguns, and license holders who sell or otherwise transfer their handguns must apply to cancel the listing of those handguns on their license.3

New York law requires anyone who intends to transfer a lawfully-possessed handgun, short-barreled rifle or shotgun, or assault weapon, to first notify in writing the State Police or, if appropriate, the licensing officer in New York City or Nassau or Suffolk Counties.4 Finally, New York law includes the following catch-all prohibition: “No person shall except as otherwise authorized pursuant to law dispose of any firearm unless he [or she] is licensed as gunsmith or dealer in firearms.”5

See Firearms Trafficking in New York for additional laws that limit private sales of firearms.

Notes
  1. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law Art. 39-DDD, § 898.
  2. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(9).
  3. Id.
  4. N.Y. Penal Law § 265.10(7). See N.Y. Penal Law § 265.00(6) (defining “dispose of”).
  5. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(16).

Private Sales in California

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

When neither party to a transaction is a licensed firearms dealer, firearms transfers in California must be completed through a licensed California dealer.1 To complete such transactions, the seller or transferor must provide the firearm to the dealer, who will deliver the firearm to the purchaser or transferee following a background check and expiration of the mandatory state waiting period, unless the transferee is prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, or the dealer is otherwise notified by the California Department of Justice (“DOJ”) that the sale or transfer may not proceed.2 If the dealer cannot deliver the firearm to the purchaser or transferee, the dealer must determine whether the private seller or transferor is prohibited from possessing a firearm. If the seller or transferor does not fall into a prohibited class, the dealer must immediately return the firearm to that party. In the event the seller or transferor does fall into a prohibited class, the dealer cannot return the firearm to that party, and must deliver the firearm to the sheriff of the county or to the chief of police of any city in the county in which the dealer operates.3

The following sales and transfers are exempt from the requirement that they be processed through a licensed dealer:4

  • Certain government-sponsored transfers, including gun buybacks;5
  • Certain transfers to nonprofit historical societies, museums, or institutional collections;6
  • Transfers to licensed firearms manufacturers and importers;7
  • Infrequent transfers between immediate family members;8
  • Certain loans involving firearms;9
  • Donations made to non-profit auctions;10
  • Transfers by operation of law;11 or
  • Certain transfers of curios or relics to licensed firearms collectors.12

Private sales and transfers of firearms are not subject to the state’s restriction on purchasing more than one handgun per month,13 or the state’s design safety standards for handguns.14

All licensed firearms dealers must process private party transfers of long guns upon request. Licensed dealers who sell, transfer, or stock handguns must also process private party handgun transactions upon request. A licensed dealer that does not deal is handguns is not required to process private party transfers of handguns.15

Any person, corporation, or dealer is prohibited from transferring a firearm to a person the seller “knows or has cause to believe” is not the actual purchaser or transferee of a firearm (such a person is known as a “straw purchaser” – someone not in a prohibited category who buys firearms on behalf of a convicted felon, juvenile or other prohibited purchaser), if the person, corporation, or dealer knows that the firearm is to be subsequently transferred in violation of California law.16 California law also prohibits any person from supplying a firearm to any person that state law prohibits from possessing firearms for mental health reasons.17 Private sellers of firearms must also comply with California’s age restrictions for the purchase or sale of a firearm.

For laws governing licensed dealers, see our Dealer Regulations in California section.

Notes
  1. Cal. Penal Code § 27545. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 11, § 4032.
  2. Cal. Penal Code § 28050(a)-(c).
  3. Cal. Penal Code § 28050(d).
  4. Note, however, that transferees receiving a firearm through one of these exceptions may be required to report to DOJ the receipt of the firearm within 30 days, and obtain a firearm safety certificate. See the Licensing of Gun Purchasers or Owners in California section.
  5. Cal. Penal Code § 27850.
  6. Cal. Penal Code §§ 27855, 27860.
  7. Cal. Penal Code § 27865.
  8. Cal. Penal Code § 27875.
  9. Cal. Penal Code §§ 27880, 27885, 27910.
  10. Cal. Penal Code §§ 27900, 27905.
  11. Cal. Penal Code §§ 27920, 27925.
  12. Cal. Penal Code § 27966. All exceptions are listed at Cal. Penal Code §§ 27850-27966.
  13. Cal. Penal Code § 27535(b)(8).
  14. Cal. Penal Code §§ 27545 and 32110(a).
  15. Cal. Penal Code § 28065.
  16. Cal. Penal Code § 27515.
  17. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 8101 (referencing §§ 8100 and 8103).

Private Sales in Massachusetts

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

Massachusetts law prohibits any person from transferring a firearm without possessing a Massachusetts firearms dealer license.1 This prohibition does not apply to an unlicensed person who transfers a firearm to a state or federally licensed dealer or to a historical society, museum or institutional collection that is open to the public.2

State law also exempts from this general prohibition unlicensed persons who transfer “not more than four” firearms in any one calendar year.3 Massachusetts does not explicitly require private sellers to conduct a background check of prospective purchasers. However, in 2014, Massachusetts enacted a law requiring the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services to develop a web portal through which private sellers of firearms can conduct a real-time check of the validity of the purchaser’s Firearm Identification Card and other necessary licenses.4 For further information, please see the Licensing of Gun Purchasers/Owners section.

Massachusetts law requires private sales of firearms to be reported to the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services by both the seller and the purchaser. For more information, see the Retention of Sales / Background Checks Records section.

With certain exceptions (including for persons who transfer fewer than five handguns a year), Massachusetts law deems it an unfair or deceptive practice to transfer a handgun while failing to comply with any local, state or federal law or regulation intended to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive practices, such as laws or regulations that:

  • Forbid sale to juveniles, addicts or the mentally incompetent;
  • Require sellers to keep handgun sales records;
  • Forbid sellers from delivering or transporting loaded handguns; or
  • Forbid the delivery of handguns to minors.5

In addition, it is generally an unfair or deceptive practice for a handgun seller to make a material misrepresentation or false certification regarding a handgun offered for transfer.6

Notes
  1. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§ 122, 128.
  2. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 128A.
  3. Id.
  4. Id.
  5. 940 Mass. Code Regs. 16.02(1).
  6. 940 Mass. Code Regs. 16.02(2).

Private Sales in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, an unlicensed seller may only sell a handgun or short-barreled rifle or shotgun to an unlicensed purchaser at the place of business of a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer or county sheriff’s office.1 The licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer or sheriff must comply with all of the dealer regulations set forth in the Pennsylvania Dealer Regulations section, including a background check on prospective purchaser.2 These requirements do not apply to transfers between spouses, parents and children, or grandparents and grandchildren.3 These requirements also do not generally apply to transfers of long guns.4

Any seller who knowingly and intentionally delivers a firearm to an individual who is not eligible to possess a firearm commits a third degree felony.5

No seller may deliver a handgun or short-barreled rifle or shotgun to the purchaser or transferee unless the firearm is securely wrapped and unloaded.6

A person violating these provisions who has already been convicted under them previously (in other words, a repeat offender), receives an enhanced punishment under Pennsylvania law.7

See the section entitled Firearms Trafficking for additional laws that limit private sales of firearms.

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

Notes
  1. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(c), (f)(1), (2).
  2. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(a), (c).
  3. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(c).
  4. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(f)(2).
  5. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(g)(2).
  6. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(a).
  7. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(h).

Private Sales in Ohio

Ohio does not require a background check on the purchaser of a firearm when the seller is not a licensed dealer.

Ohio prohibits any person from recklessly selling, lending, giving, or furnishing a firearm to a person prohibited by state law from acquiring a firearm.1 Moreover, Ohio prohibits possessing a firearm with the purpose of disposing of it in violation of this provision.2

Ohio also restricts sales to young people.

See Firearms Trafficking in Ohio for additional laws regarding private sales.

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

Notes
  1. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.20(A)(1).
  2. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.20(A)(2).

Private Sales in New Jersey

New Jersey requires that, for all handgun transfers the transferee possess a permit to purchase a handgun, which is valid for the acquisition of one handgun.1 For long gun (rifle and shotgun) transfers, the transferee must possess a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FPIC).2 One FPIC allows unlimited rifle and shotgun purchases as long as the holder remains eligible to possess the FPIC.3 Holders of a permit to purchase a handgun or an FPIC are subject to federal and state background checks.4

New Jersey prohibits any person from loaning money where the transaction is secured by any handgun, rifle or shotgun.5

In addition, the state prohibits any pawnbroker from selling, offering to sell, lending or giving away any weapon.6

For information regarding New Jersey’s age restrictions for firearm sales, see the section entitled Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in New Jersey.

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

Notes
  1. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3a, 3f, 3i; N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-1.9(a).
  2. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3b.
  3. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3f, 3i; N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-1.9(b).
  4. See the Prohibited Purchasers Generally in New Jersey section for details.
  5. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-11b.
  6. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-11a.

Private Sales in Illinois

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

Any private (unlicensed) seller of a firearm who seeks to transfer a firearm to any unlicensed purchaser must, prior to transfer, contact the Department of State Police (DSP) with the transferee’s Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card number to determine the validity of the transferee’s FOID Card.1 The seller must await approval by DSP before transferring the firearm. Approvals issued by DSP for the purchase of a firearm are valid for 30 days.2

Exceptions to this requirement include: 1) transfers as a bona fide gift to the transferor’s husband, wife, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, brother, sister, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt, grandfather, grandmother, grandson, granddaughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law;3 and 2) transfers that occur at a federally licensed firearm dealer’s place of business, if the licensed dealer conducts a background check on the prospective recipient of the firearm and follows all other applicable federal, state, and local laws as if he or she were the transferor of the firearm.4

A private seller or transferor who complies with the law by determining the validity of a purchaser’s FOID card, will not be liable for damages in any civil action arising from the use or misuse by the transferee of the firearm transferred, except for willful or wanton conduct on the part of the seller or transferor.5

DSP is tasked with developing an Internet-based system for private sellers to determine the validity of a FOID Card prior to transferring a firearm to an unlicensed purchaser.6 DSP is required to have this system operable by July 1, 2015.7

Illinois has a separate private sales background check requirement at gun shows. See the Gun Shows in Illinois section for further information.

The following Illinois laws apply to all firearm sales, regardless of whether the seller is a licensed dealer:

  • Illinois law prohibits any person from knowingly selling firearms or ammunition to individuals who are ineligible to possess a firearm or who do not hold a Firearm Owner’s Identification (“FOID”) card. It is a Class 3 felony, for example, for any person to knowingly sell or give any firearm to any person who has been convicted of a felony.8 See the Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers section for information about FOID cards.
  • Any person who transfers a firearm must keep records of all such transfers for a period of 10 years.9 See the Retention of Sales & Background Checks Records section for more information.
  • All firearms sellers must abide by statutory waiting periods.10 See the Waiting Periods section for more details.
Notes
  1. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-10).
  2. Id.
  3. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-15)(2).
  4. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-15)(1).
  5. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(k).
  6. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-20).
  7. Id.
  8. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/2(a)(1), (2); 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a); 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/4; 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(d), (k), (C) (9).
  9. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(b).
  10. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(g).