Retention of Sales & Background Check Records in New York

New York requires any person licensed as a firearms dealer to keep a record of every transaction involving handguns, short-barreled shotguns or rifles, and assault weapons, including the date, name, age, occupation and residence of any person who receives or delivers such guns, and the caliber, make, model, manufacturer’s name and serial number of the firearm.1 Before delivering such weapons to any person, the dealer must require the prospective transferee to produce either a valid license to carry or possess a handgun, or proof of exempt status.  The dealer must then remove and retain the coupon attached to the license and enter in the record book the date of such license, the license number, and name of the licensing officer.2

The original transaction record must be forwarded to the Division of State Police within ten days of delivering a handgun, short-barreled shotgun or rifle, or assault weapon to any person, and the dealer must keep a duplicate. Effective January 15, 2014, the Superintendent of State Police may designate that such record must be completed and transmitted in electronic form.  A dealer may be granted a waiver from transmitting such records in electronic form if the Superintendent determines that the dealer is incapable of such transmission due to technological limitations beyond the control of the dealer or other exceptional circumstances demonstrated by the dealer. The record book must be maintained on the premises described in the dealer’s license and must be open at all reasonable hours for inspection by law enforcement.3

New York law also requires anyone who intends to dispose of 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 (Wholesale dealers, gunsmiths and licensed firearms dealers are exempt from this provision.)

These requirements do not apply to standard length shotguns and rifles.

Private sales

New York law requires that a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check be completed by a licensed firearms dealer before the sale, exchange, or disposal of any firearm, unless the transaction is between members of an immediate family.  Upon completion of the background check by the licensed dealer, the dealer must finalize a document that identifies and confirms that a NICS check was performed.  All dealers must maintain transaction records on their dealership premises and the records must be open at all reasonable hours for inspection by law enforcement.  A dealer may charge a fee of up to $10 per transaction.  Such records will not be considered a public record under New York Public Officers Law.  A violation of these laws is punishable as a misdemeanor.5

Ammunition Sales

Ammunition sellers and firearms dealers must, at the time of an ammunition sale or transfer, record the transaction details (date, name, age, occupation, and residence of anyone transferring or receiving ammunition and also the amount, caliber, manufacturer’s name and serial number or other distinguishing information) in a record book to be maintained on the seller’s premises and made available at all reasonable hours for inspection by any law enforcement officer.  This information is not considered a public record.6

An ammunition seller or firearms dealer may not transfer any ammunition to anyone other than a licensed dealer unless the seller conducts a check against records maintained in the state’s electronic database and receives a number identifying the transaction and signifying that the transferee is not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing the ammunition.7

After the transfer, the transferee must indicate to the database that the transaction was completed at which time a record of the transaction, to be maintained for no longer than one year, will be made available to law enforcement but will not be made a part of the new firearms database for licenses and records or the new firearms registry.  A record of the transaction may be shared with local law enforcement but will not be a public record.  This requirement will not apply if the background check system is not operational or if a dealer or seller was issued a waiver from conducting a background check by the state police.8

The New York State Police Pistol Permit Bureau maintains a master database of all transaction records and pistol permits issued in the state. See the New York State Police Pistol Permit Bureau web site for an overview.

See our Retention of Firearm Sales and Background Check Records policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(12).
  2. Id.
  3. Id.
  4. N.Y. Penal Law § 265.10(7).
  5. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law Art. 39-DDD § 898.
  6. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.03(2).
  7. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.03(3).
  8. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.03(5).

Retention of Sales & Background Check Records in California

See our Retention of Firearm Sales and Background Check Records policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue nationwide.

Record-keeping and reporting by dealers: California law requires most firearm transfers to be processed through a licensed firearms dealer. See the Private Sales in California section for further information about this requirement. Firearms dealers are required to report all Dealer Record of Sale (“DROS”) transactions to the California Department of Justice (“DOJ”) electronically.1 Subject to limited exceptions, licensed dealers are required to keep a record of electronic transfer of information to DOJ for each sale of a firearm, containing detailed information on the purchaser and the firearm being sold.2 Firearms dealers must include in the record of electronic transfer the date a firearm is delivered to the transferee.3 The dealer must require the purchaser to sign his or her name on the record.4 Dealers are also required to obtain the right thumbprint of a purchaser or transferee before completing any transaction.5

Dealers are also required to maintain a firearms transaction record and this record must be made available to law enforcement during business hours.6

Certain firearm transfers are exempt from the requirement that they be processed by a licensed firearms dealer. As a result, transferees receiving a firearm through some of these exceptions are required to report the receipt of the firearm to DOJ directly.7

Registry of firearm transactions: California law requires the Attorney General to permanently maintain and keep a registry of all information pertaining to the sale or transfer of firearms reported to DOJ.8 This registry must include certain information, including identifying information about the person receiving the firearm, identifying information about the person transferring the firearm, and identifying information about the firearm itself.9 DOJ may furnish information contained in this registry, generated by the DROS forms to prosecutors, district attorneys, city attorneys prosecuting civil actions, and law enforcement for use in the arrest and prosecution of criminals, the recovery of lost, stolen, or found property, or for other purposes expressly authorized by law.10

Under a law passed in 2014, all California law enforcement agencies must develop and implement written policies and standard protocols pertaining to the best manner in which to conduct a “welfare check,” which is an investigation into the welfare or well-being of a person motivated by a concern that such person may be a danger to himself, herself, or to others. These policies must encourage officers, whenever possible and reasonable, to first conduct a search of the DOJ registry to determine whether the person being investigated is the owner of a firearm.11

For more information on data retained pursuant to a firearms purchase or transfer, see our section on Dealer Regulation in California.

  1. Cal. Penal Code § 28205(c).
  2. Cal. Penal Code §§ 28100; 28160.
  3. Cal. Penal Code § 28160(c).
  4. Cal. Penal Code § 28160(d).
  5. Cal. Penal Code § 28160(b). All other information required to be maintained is listed at Cal. Penal Code § 28160(a). This includes the date and time of the sale, the make of the firearm, manufacturer’s name (if stamped on the firearm), model name or number (if marked on the firearm), the purchaser’s handgun safety certificate number, the caliber, type, and color of the firearm, the name of the purchaser and other identifying information about the purchaser, and certain information about the dealer, including address and telephone number. Id.
  6. Cal. Penal Code § 26900.
  7. Cal. Penal Code §§ 27850-27966.
  8. Cal. Penal Code § 11106(a)(1); (b)(1).
  9. Cal. Penal Code § 11106(b)(2). All other information required to be in the registry is listed in this subsection.
  10. Cal. Penal Code §§ 11106(a)(2), 11106(b)(3) (both subsections reference Cal. Penal Code § 11105). Law enforcement officers receiving information from the registry may only disseminate it to specifically authorized persons and, even then, only under conditions related to an instance of domestic violence expressly identified by Cal. Penal Code § 11106(c).
  11. Cal. Penal Code §11106.4.

Retention of Sales & Background Check Records in Massachusetts

See our Retention of Firearm Sales and Background Check Records policy for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

For every gun transfer, firearms dealers must make an entry in a sales record book specifying: 1) the complete description of the firearm, including the make, serial number (if any), type, and designation as a large capacity weapon, if applicable; 2) whether it was sold, rented or leased; 3) the date of transfer; and 4) the gender, residence and occupation of the transferee.1 Before delivering the firearm, the dealer must ensure that the transferee writes his or her full name in the sales record book, which must be open at all times to the inspection of the police. In the case of a handgun, the dealer must also document the license to carry number or the permit to purchase, rent or lease number, along with the firearm identification card (“FID”) number. In the case of a rifle or shotgun, the dealer must include either the FID or license to carry number.2 This information must also be submitted to the commissioner of the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) (formerly the Criminal History Systems Board) via an electronic communication link into the Massachusetts Instant Record Check System (MIRCS).3

Massachusetts law allows private sellers of firearms (those not licensed as firearms dealers) to sell up to four firearms per year. However, the seller must report the sale to CJIS within seven days, on forms furnished by CJIS. The seller must specify the names and addresses of the seller and the purchaser, together with a complete description of the firearm, including its designation as a large capacity weapon, if applicable, the caliber, make and serial number and the purchaser’s license number(s).4 Purchasers of firearms from private sellers are also required to submit this same information to CJIS (although they do not have to provide their license, permit or card numbers), independent of the seller.5

  1. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 123 (Second), (Ninth), (Twelfth).
  2. Id.
  3. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 123 (Fifth), (Ninth); 803 Mass. Code Regs. 10.06.
  4. Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 140, § 128A.
  5. Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 140, § 128B.

Retention of Sales & Background Check Records in New Jersey

New Jersey requires that any person engaged in the retail sale of handguns keep a register of handgun sales information.1 The register must include the time and date of the sale or transfer, the name, age, date of birth, complexion, occupation, residence and a physical description of the purchaser or transferee, the name and permanent home address of the transferor, the place of the transaction, the make, model, manufacturer’s number, caliber and other identifying marks on the handgun, and such other information as the Superintendent of the State Police deems necessary for proper enforcement.2

The register shall be retained by the dealer and shall be made available at all reasonable hours for inspection by any law enforcement officer.3 Copies of the register shall be delivered within five days of a sale or transfer to local law enforcement (or the local county clerk) and the New Jersey State Police.4

A separate regulation requires all retail firearms dealers to maintain permanent records in bound form of all firearm acquisitions and dispositions, including frames and receivers.5 Such information must be recorded no later than at the close of the next business day following the date of acquisition or disposition.6

Prior to the time a handgun permittee receives the handgun, he or she shall deliver the permit to the seller, and the seller is required to enter all the information on the permit form.7 The seller shall keep a copy as a permanent record, and deliver the completed permit (or copies) to local law enforcement and NJSP within five days of the date of sale.8

See our Retention of Sales & Background Check Records policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-2b.
  2. Id.
  3. Id.
  4. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-2e.
  5. N.J. Admin. Code § 13:54-3.14(a).
  6. Id.
  7. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3h.
  8. Id.

Retention of Sales & Background Check Records in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law states that a firearms dealer’s state license will be revoked if the licensee fails to keep a record in triplicate of every firearm sold and retain the records for 20 years.1

Pennsylvania law also requires firearm dealers to provide a record of the sale of any handgun or certain other firearms2 to the Firearms Division of the Pennsylvania State Police (“PSP”), which maintains a permanent database of these sales.3 Generally, no record of sale is completed for the purchase of a long gun;4 however, PSP must destroy any record of sale of a long gun within 72 hours of the background check.5 See the Pennsylvania Registration of Firearms section for more information.

Regarding long guns, the dealer must submit a statement to PSP within 14 days of the sale, containing the number of long guns sold, the amount of surcharge and other fees remitted and a list of the unique approval numbers given, together with a statement that the background checks have been performed on the firearms contained in the statement. PSP has a form available for purposes of submitting this statement.6

See our Retention of Firearm Sales and Background Check Records policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6113(a)(5).
  2. This includes “any pistol or revolver with a barrel length less than 15 inches, any shotgun with a barrel length less than 18 inches or any rifle with a barrel length less than 16 inches, or any pistol, revolver, rifle or shotgun with an overall length of less than 26 inches. The barrel length of a firearm shall be determined by measuring from the muzzle of the barrel to the face of the closed action, bolt or cylinder, whichever is applicable.” 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6102.
  3. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(b). See also Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League v. Rendell, 860 A.2d 10, 11-12 (Pa. 2004) (describing PSP-maintained database pursuant to the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act of 1995. 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. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(h).
  4. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(b)(1.4).
  5. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(b)(1.1)(v).
  6. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(b)(1.4).

Retention of Sales & Background Check Records in Wisconsin

Handgun dealers in Wisconsin are required to retain the original copy of each notification form completed by a transferee, records showing each confirmation number that the state Department of Justice (DOJ) issued to the dealer, and the approval or non-approval number that corresponds with each confirmation number.1 Dealers must keep these records available for inspection by a DOJ employee or designee during the dealer’s normal business hours and as otherwise reasonably requested.2

Wisconsin requires the DOJ to destroy records of any handgun transfer if the sale was approved and nothing in the record indicates that the transfer may be prohibited, within 30 days of receipt of such record.3 Notwithstanding this provision, DOJ may maintain a log of dates of requests for record searches of firearm restrictions together with confirmation numbers, unique approval and non-approval numbers, and firearms dealer identification numbers corresponding to those dates.4 Within three years after DOJ issues a unique approval number, the department must destroy all corresponding information contained in the log.5

DOJ must provide access to any records related to handgun transfer transactions to a Wisconsin law enforcement agency request, in writing, involving an investigation where the handgun was used, attempted to be used, or unlawfully possessed, and the agency has a reasonable suspicion that the subject of the information request has obtained or is attempting to obtain a handgun.6 The agency making the request to DOJ must eventually communicate that fact to the subject of the request, either after this person is found no longer material to the investigation, the investigation has concluded, or one year has transpired since the agency made its initial request.7

See our Retention of Firearm Sales and Background Check Records policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Wis. Stat. § 175.35(2j). Wis. Admin. Code Jus § 10.10(1)(a), (b).
  2. Wis. Admin. Code Jus § 10.10(1)(c).
  3. Wis. Stat. § 175.35(2k)(ar). Wis. Admin. Code Jus § 10.10(2)(c).
  4. Wis. Stat. § 175.35(2k)(b)(2).
  5. Id.
  6. Wis. Stat. § 175.35(2k)(c).
  7. Wis. Stat. § 175.35(2k)(d).

Retention of Sales & Background Check Records in Illinois

Illinois law requires all sellers of firearms to retain firearm sales records for a minimum of 10 years.1

Sellers of handguns, other than manufacturers selling to bona fide wholesalers or retailers, or wholesalers selling to a bona fide retailer, are also required to keep a register of all firearms sold or given away.2 The register must contain the date of the sale or gift, the name, address, age and occupation of the person to whom the gun was sold or given, the price of the gun, the kind, description and number of the weapon, and the purpose for which it was obtained.3 Such sellers are required to produce the register for inspection, upon the demand of a peace officer, and allow the officer to inspect the register and all stock on hand.4

See our Retention of Sales & Background Check Records policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(b).
  2. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-4(a).
  3. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-4(b).
  4. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-4(c).

Retention of Sales & Background Check Records in the District of Columbia


All private sales of firearms in the District must be conducted through a licensed firearms dealer.1 For a description of the inventory records and other information required to be kept by licensed firearms dealers, see the “Duties of Licensed Dealers” subsection of the District of Columbia Dealer Regulations section.

See our Retention of Firearm Sales and Background Check Records policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2505.02.