ATF

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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Brady Law

Editor’s Note: Unless otherwise noted, these questions and answers relate to the permanent provisions of the Brady law found in section 922(t) of the Gun Control Act. These provisions, including the requirement for licensees to initiate background checks of individuals to whom firearms are transferred by contacting the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), became effective on November 30, 1998. They replace the interim provisions of the Brady law that imposed a Federal 5-day waiting period on licensees’ sales of handguns and required the sending of Brady forms to State or local officials.

  1. Who must comply with the requirements of the Brady law?
  2. When did the provisions of the permanent Brady law take effect?
  3. Is NICS operated by ATF?
  4. Do all NICS checks go through the FBI’s NICS Operations Center?
  5. If the State is acting as a point of contact (POC), does that mean that all NICS checks go through the POC rather than the FBI?
  6. How does a licensee know whether to contact the FBI or a State point of contact (POC) in order to initiate a NICS check?
  7. Is there a charge for NICS checks?
  8. Must licensees enroll with the FBI to get access to NICS?
  9. Does the Brady law apply to the transfer of long guns as well as handguns?
  10. Does the Brady law apply to the transfer of antique firearms?
  11. Does the Brady law apply to the transfer of firearms between two licensees?
  12. Must licensed collectors comply with the Brady law prior to transferring a curio or relic firearm?
  13. Is the transfer of a firearm by a licensed dealer to a licensed collector subject to the Brady law?
  14. Must a licensed importer, manufacturer or dealer comply with the Brady law when selling firearms from his or her own personal collection?
  15. Do the provisions of the Brady law apply to a licensee’s loan or rental of a firearm to a non-licensee?
  16. Must licensees conduct NICS checks for sales of firearms to non-licensees at gun shows?
  17. Is the redemption of a pawned firearm subject to the Brady law?
  18. What should a licensed pawnbroker do with a firearm he or she has in pawn when the NICS check results in a “denied” transaction?
  19. If an individual repeatedly pawns the same firearm, is the FFL required to do a NICS check each time the firearm is redeemed?
  20. Can licensed pawnbrokers conduct NICS checks prior to accepting a firearm in pawn?
  21. If a pawnbroker conducts an optional NICS check prior to receiving a firearm in pawn, should the owner of the firearm complete a Form 4473 before the pawnbroker contacts NICS?
  22. What should a licensed pawnbroker do when he or she gets a “denied” response from an optional NICS check conducted prior to the receipt of a firearm in pawn?
  23. If a licensed pawnbroker conducts a NICS check prior to accepting a firearm in pawn, and gets an “approved” response from NICS, must the pawnbroker conduct another NICS check if the firearm is redeemed from pawn? What if it is redeemed from pawn the same day?
  24. A firearm is delivered to a licensee by an unlicensed individual for the purpose of repair. Is the return of the repaired firearm subject to the requirements of the Brady law? Would the transfer of a replacement firearm from the licensee to the owner of the damaged firearm be subject to the requirements of the Brady law?
  25. Is a licensee’s return of a consigned firearm to an unlicensed individual subject to permanent Brady?
  26. Do the requirements of the Brady law apply to sales of firearms to law enforcement officials for official use?
  27. Do the requirements of the Brady law apply to the sale of a firearm to a law enforcement official for his or her personal use?
  28. Are there exceptions to the Brady law’s requirement for a NICS check prior to a licensee’s transfer of a firearm to an unlicensed individual?
  29. What steps must be followed by an FFL prior to transferring a firearm subject to the requirements of the Brady law?
  30. What form of identification must a dealer obtain from a purchaser under the Brady law?
  31. Under the Brady law, may a licensee transfer a firearm to a non-licensed individual who does not appear in person at the licensed premises?
  32. If no NICS check is required, may a licensee transfer a firearm to a non-licensed individual who does not appear in person at the licensed premises?
  33. Is the transferee required to provide his or her social security number on the ATF Form 4473?
  34. Will NICS provide an instant response?
  35. For purposes of the Brady law, what is meant by a “business day?”
  36. If a licensee contacts NICS on Thursday, December 2, and gets a “delayed” response, when may the licensee transfer the firearm if no further response is received from NICS?
  37. What should a licensee do if he or she gets a “denied” response from NICS or a State point of contact after 3 business days have elapsed, but prior to the transfer of the firearm?
  38. What should an FFL tell a transferee who is denied by NICS?
  39. If a transferee receives a “denied” response from NICS, can the transferee find out why he or she was denied?
  40. What information do FFLs have to record on ATF Form 4473 once they hear back from NICS or the State point of contact?
  41. What should licensees do if no transaction number is provided?
  42. Do FFLs have to keep a copy of ATF Form 4473 if the transaction is denied or for some other reason is not completed?
  43. When should FFLs contact NICS?
  44. For what period of time is a NICS check valid?
  45. Is a NICS check valid for 30 days from when the check was initiated, or from when a “proceed” is issued?
  46. A purchaser places an order for a custom-made firearm, which will not be ready for at least 60 days. Should the NICS check be initiated on the date the order is placed or the day the firearm is ready for delivery?
  47. Can one NICS check cover two or more separate firearms transactions?
  48. If no exceptions to the NICS check apply, must an FFL always wait 3 business days before transferring a firearm to a transferee?
  49. Will a State “instant check” or “point of sale check” system qualify as an alternative to a NICS check?
  50. What happens if the transferee successfully appeals the NICS denial but more than 30 calendar days have elapsed since the initial background check was initiated?
  51. How does a licensee know whether a permit may be accepted as an alternative to a NICS check?
  52. Does a permit qualify as an alternative to a NICS check if the purchaser is using it to purchase a type of firearm that is not covered by the permit?
  53. ATF has recognized the concealed weapons permits in State A and State B as valid alternatives to a NICS check. Can a resident of State A use a concealed weapons permit issued by State A to purchase a longgun in State B without undergoing a NICS check?
  54. If State law provides that permits are only valid for 2 years, can a licensee accept as a NICS alternative a permit that was issued 4 years ago?
  55. If the State has its own instant check system, must the licensee comply with State requirements for a background check as well as the Brady law?
  56. If a licensee gets a “proceed” response from NICS, does he or she still have to wait until the expiration of the State waiting period before transferring the firearm?
  57. If a State is acting as a NICS point of contact (POC) and State law has requirements regarding the amount of time that a licensee must wait before transferring a firearm after contacting the State, should the licensee comply with the State requirements, the Federal requirements, or both?
  58. Does an individual (not a corporation or partnership) licensee have to conduct a NICS check on himself or herself prior to transferring a firearm to his or her own personal collection?
  59. Is a NICS check required for the sale of firearms registered under the National Firearms Act (NFA)?
  60. An organization without a firearms license wishes to acquire a firearm from a licensee for the purpose of raffling the firearm at an event. How does the licensee comply with the Brady law?

Q: Who must comply with the requirements of the Brady law?

Federally licensed firearms importers, manufacturers, and dealers must comply with the Brady law prior to the transfer of any firearm to a non-licensed individual.

[18 U.S.C. 922(t), 27 CFR 478.102 ]

Q: When did the provisions of the permanent Brady law take effect?

The permanent Brady law went into effect on November 30, 1998. Accordingly, any transfer occurring on or after November 30, 1998, is subject to the requirements of this law.

Q: Is NICS operated by ATF?

No. NICS is operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Q: Do all NICS checks go through the FBI’s NICS Operations Center?

No. In many States, licensees initiate NICS checks through the State point of contact (POC).

Q: If the State is acting as a point of contact (POC), does that mean that all NICS checks go through the POC rather than the FBI?

That depends on the State. In some States, the POC conducts background checks for all firearms transactions. In other States, licensees must contact the POC for hand-gun transactions and the FBI for long gun transactions. In some POC States, NICS checks for pawn redemptions are handled by the FBI.

Q: How does a licensee know whether to contact the FBI or a State point of contact (POC) in order to initiate a NICS check?

Prior to November 30, 1998, ATF sent an open letter to licensees in each State, providing the licensees with instructions as to how to initiate a NICS check in their State. ATF has alerted FFLs if their State’s procedures have changed since this time. Your local ATF office can advise you on the appropriate point of contact for NICS checks or you can check the ATF Web page at www.atf.gov.

Q: Is there a charge for NICS checks?

The FBI does not charge a fee for conducting NICS checks. However, States that act as points of contact for NICS checks may charge a fee consistent with State law.

Q: Must licensees enroll with the FBI to get access to NICS?

Licensees must be enrolled with the FBI before they can initiate NICS checks through the FBI’s NICS Operations Center. Licensees who have not received an enrollment package from the FBI should call the FBI NICS Operations Center at 1-877-344-6427 and ask that an enrollment package be sent to them. Licensees in States where a State agency is acting as a point of contact for NICS checks should contact the State for enrollment information.

Q: Does the Brady law apply to the transfer of long guns as well as handguns?

Yes.

Q: Does the Brady law apply to the transfer of antique firearms?

No. Licensees need not comply with the Brady law when transferring a weapon that meets the Gun Control Act’s definition of an “antique firearm.”

Q: Does the Brady law apply to the transfer of firearms between two licensees?

No. The Brady law only applies when a licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer is transferring a firearm to a non-licensee.

Q: Must licensed collectors comply with the Brady law prior to transferring a curio or relic firearm?

No. Transfers of curio or relic firearms by licensed collectors are not subject to the requirements of the Brady law.

Q: Is the transfer of a firearm by a licensed dealer to a licensed collector subject to the Brady law?

The Brady law does not apply to the transfer of a curio or relic firearm to a licensed collector. However, a licensed collector who acquires a firearm other than a curio or relic from a licensee would be treated like a non-licensee, and the transfer would be subject to Brady requirements.

Q: Must a licensed importer, manufacturer or dealer comply with the Brady law when selling firearms from his or her own personal collection?

No, provided the licensee has maintained the firearm as part of his personal collection for at least 1 year from the date the firearm was transferred from his business inventory into his personal collection or otherwise acquired as a personal firearm and the licensee complies with the record-keeping requirements in 27 CFR 478.125(a).

Q: Do the provisions of the Brady law apply to a licensee’s loan or rental of a firearm to a non-licensee?

If the firearm is loaned or rented for use on the licensee’s premises, the transaction is not subject to the Brady law. However, if the firearm is loaned or rented for use off the premises, the licensee must comply with the Brady law.

Q: Must licensees conduct NICS checks for sales of firearms to non-licensees at gun shows?

Yes. A licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer may not transfer a firearm to a non-licensee at a gun show without first complying with the requirements of the Brady law.

Q: Is the redemption of a pawned firearm subject to the Brady law?

Yes. Unlike the interim Brady law, the permanent Brady law that went into effect on November 30, 1998, does not contain an exemption for the return of a firearm to the individual from whom it was received. Accordingly, the redemption of a pawned firearm is considered a transfer subject to the permanent Brady law.

Q: What should a licensed pawnbroker do with a firearm he or she has in pawn when the NICS check results in a “denied” transaction?

The licensee cannot transfer the firearm to the transferee without violating the law and placing the transferee in violation of the law. Licensees with additional questions should contact their local ATF office.

[18 U.S.C. 922(d) and (g)]

Q: If an individual repeatedly pawns the same firearm, is the FFL required to do a NICS check each time the firearm is redeemed?

Yes. The fact that the transferee has redeemed the firearm before does not excuse the pawnbroker from complying with the Brady law.

Q: Can licensed pawnbrokers conduct NICS checks prior to accepting a firearm in pawn?

Yes. The law provides that a NICS check may be done, on an optional basis, prior to accepting a firearm in pawn. If the check results in a “denied” response, the licensee is required to notify local law enforcement officials within 48 hours after receipt of the “denied” response.

Q: If a pawnbroker conducts an optional NICS check prior to receiving a firearm in pawn, should the owner of the firearm complete a Form 4473 before the pawnbroker contacts NICS?

ATF suggests that licensees have the owner complete Section A of the Form 4473, record the results of the NICS check on the form, and retain the form in their records for at least 5 years.

Q: What should a licensed pawnbroker do when he or she gets a “denied” response from an optional NICS check conducted prior to the receipt of a firearm in pawn?

The licensee is required to notify local law enforcement officials within 48 hours after receipt of the “denied” response. If the licensee has taken possession of the firearm, he or she may not return it to the individual who offered it for pawn.

Q: If a licensed pawnbroker conducts a NICS check prior to accepting a firearm in pawn, and gets an “approved” response from NICS, must the pawnbroker conduct another NICS check if the firearm is redeemed from pawn? What if it is redeemed from pawn the same day?

The law provides that another NICS check must be done at the time of redemption, regardless of how recently the pre-pawn NICS check was conducted. Even if the firearm is redeemed the same day, a separate NICS check must be conducted at the time of redemption.

Q: A firearm is delivered to a licensee by an unlicensed individual for the purpose of repair. Is the return of the repaired firearm subject to the requirements of the Brady law? Would the transfer of a replacement firearm from the licensee to the owner of the damaged firearm be subject to the requirements of the Brady law?

Neither the transfer of a repaired firearm nor the transfer of a replacement firearm would be subject to the requirements of the Brady law. Furthermore, the regulations provide that a Form 4473 is not required to cover these transactions. However, the licensee’s permanent acquisition and disposition records should reflect the return of the firearm or the transfer of a replacement firearm.

[27 CFR 478.124-25]

Q: Is a licensee’s return of a consigned firearm to an unlicensed individual subject to permanent Brady?

Yes.

Q: Do the requirements of the Brady law apply to sales of firearms to law enforcement officials for official use?

Transfers of firearms to law enforcement officials for their official use are exempt from the provisions of the Brady law when the transaction complies with the conditions set forth in the regulations at 27 CFR 478.134. In general, the purchaser must provide a certification on agency letterhead, signed by a person in authority within the agency (other than the officer purchasing the firearm), stating that the officer will use the firearm in official duties, and that a records check reveals that the purchasing officer has no convictions for misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence. If these conditions are met, the purchasing officer is not required to complete a Form 4473 or undergo a NICS check. However, the licensee must record the transaction in his or her permanent records and retain a copy of the certification letter.

[27 CFR 478.134]

Q: Do the requirements of the Brady law apply to the sale of a firearm to a law enforcement official for his or her personal use?

Yes. In such transactions, the law enforcement official is treated no differently from any other unlicensed transferee, and a NICS check must be conducted.

[18 U.S.C. 922(t) and 925(a) (1)]

Q: Are there exceptions to the Brady law’s requirement for a NICS check prior to a licensee’s transfer of a firearm to an unlicensed individual?

Firearm transfers are exempt from the requirement for a NICS check in 3 situations. These include transfers: (1) to buyers having a State permit that has been recognized by ATF as an alternative to a NICS check; (2) of National Firearms Act weapons approved by ATF; and (3) certified by ATF as exempt because compliance with the NICS check requirement is impracticable.

[18 U.S.C. 922(t), 27 CFR 478.102(d)]

Q: What steps must be followed by an FFL prior to transferring a firearm subject to the requirements of the Brady law?

The following steps must be followed prior to transferring a firearm:

  1. The licensee must have the transferee complete and sign ATF Form 4473, Firearms Transaction Record.
  2. The licensee must verify the identity of the transferee through a government-issued photo identification.
  3. The licensee must contact NICS through either the FBI or a State point of contact (POC). The licensee initially will get either a “proceed” or “delayed” response from NICS. If the licensee gets a “proceed” response, the firearm may be transferred if there is no additional State waiting period. If the licensee gets a “delayed response” it indicates the transaction is in “open” status and that more research is required prior to a NICS “proceed” or “denied” response. If the licensee gets a “delayed” response and there is no additional response from the FBI or POC, the licensee may transfer the firearm after 3 business days have elapsed. Of course, the licensee must still comply with any waiting period requirements under State law. FFLs contacting the FBI directly will receive information from the FBI indicating when the 3 business days time period elapses on “delayed” transactions.

If the licensee gets a “denied” response prior to the 3 business days elapsing, the firearm cannot be transferred.

In addition, after conducting additional research, the FBI may provide the FFL with a “cancelled” response. Transactions will be cancelled if the FBI discovers that the NICS check was not initiated in accordance with ATF or FBI regulations, e.g., information received from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement demonstrates an alien cannot meet the requirement of 90 days of continuous State residence, or a NICS check was initiated for a non-authorized purpose or by a non-authorized individual. A licensee cannot transfer a firearm when he gets a “cancelled” response.

Q: What form of identification must a dealer obtain from a purchaser under the Brady law?

The identification document presented by the purchaser must have a photograph of the purchaser, as well as the purchaser’s name, address, and date of birth. The identification document must also have been issued by a governmental entity for the purpose of identification of individuals. An example of an acceptable identification document is a driver’s license.

[18 U.S.C. 922(t), 27 CFR 478.124]

Q: Under the Brady law, may a licensee transfer a firearm to a non-licensed individual who does not appear in person at the licensed premises?

In any transaction that is subject to the requirement for a NICS check, the firearm may only be sold over-the-counter. Unless the purchaser appears in person at the licensed premises, the licensee cannot comply with the requirement in the Brady law that the identity of the purchaser be verified by means of a government-issued photo identification document.

Q: If no NICS check is required, may a licensee transfer a firearm to a non-licensed individual who does not appear in person at the licensed premises?

Yes, assuming the transaction otherwise complies with Federal and State law. For example, a licensee may still ship firearms to out-of-State law enforcement officials for official use, as long as the transaction complies with the alternate procedure set forth in the regulations at 27 CFR 478.134. Furthermore, licensees may ship firearms intrastate to State residents who have valid permits that have been recognized as alternatives to the NICS check requirements, in compliance with the procedures set forth in 18 U.S.C. 922(c) and 27 CFR 478.96(b).

Q: Is the transferee required to provide his or her social security number on the ATF Form 4473?

No. This information is solicited on an optional basis. However, providing this information will help ensure the lawfulness of the sale and avoid the possibility that the transferee will be incorrectly identified as a felon or other prohibited person.

[27 CFR 478.124]

Q: Will NICS provide an instant response?

NICS will not always provide an instant response. Licensees will receive either a “proceed”, “denied”, “delayed”, or “cancelled” response from NICS. If a “proceed” response is received, the transfer may proceed. If a “denied” response is received, the transfer may not proceed. If a “delayed” response is received, the transfer must be delayed until a “proceed” response is received from NICS or until the lapse of 3 business days, whichever occurs first. Of course, the licensee must still comply with any waiting period requirements under State law. See Question P29 for a discussion of cancelled transactions.

Q: For purposes of the Brady law, what is meant by a “business day?”

A business day is defined as any day on which State offices are open.

Q: If a licensee contacts NICS on Thursday, December 2, and gets a “delayed” response, when may the licensee transfer the firearm if no further response is received from NICS?

The firearm may be transferred on Wednesday, December 8. Assuming State offices are open on Friday, Monday, and Tuesday, and closed on Saturday and Sunday, 3 business days would have elapsed at the end of Tuesday, December 7. Therefore, the licensee may transfer the firearm at the start of business on Wednesday, December 8. The 3 business days do not include the day the NICS check is initiated.

Q: What should a licensee do if he or she gets a “denied” response from NICS or a State point of contact after 3 business days have elapsed, but prior to the transfer of the firearm?

If the licensee receives a “denied” response at any time prior to the transfer of the firearm, he or she may not transfer the firearm.

[18 U.S.C. 922(d)]

Q: What should an FFL tell a transferee who is denied by NICS?

The FFL should inform the transferee that the NICS check indicates that the transfer of the firearm should not be made, but that it does not provide a reason for the denial. The FFL should provide the transferee with the NICS or State transaction number and an appeals brochure. The FBI has provided FFLs with brochures that outline the transferee’s appeal rights and responsibilities. If you do not have any, the FBI can provide them.

Q: If a transferee receives a “denied” response from NICS, can the transferee find out why he or she was denied?

Yes. Although the FFL will not know the reason for the denial, the transferee may contact the FBI or the State point of contact in writing to request the reason for denial.

Q: What information do FFLs have to record on ATF Form 4473 once they hear back from NICS or the State point of contact?

FFLs must record any initial “proceed,” “delayed,” or “denied” response received, as well as any transaction number provided. If the initial NICS response was “delayed,” FFLs also must record the date a later “proceed” or “denied” response was received, or that no resolution was provided within 3 business days if they transfer the firearm after the 3 days. In addition, if an FFL receives a response from NICS after a firearm has been transferred, he or she must record this information.

[27 CFR 478.124(c) (3) (iii)]

Q: What should licensees do if no transaction number is provided?

The FBI’s NICS Operations Center will always provide a transaction number at the time of the initial inquiry. Some State points of contact (POC) may not provide a transaction number for denied transactions. If a State POC does not provide a transaction number for a denied transaction, then the licensee should just record the response without a transaction number. Licensees should note, however, that a transaction number is required if a “proceed” response is issued and the firearm is being transferred within 3 business days of the initiation of a NICS check.

Q: Do FFLs have to keep a copy of ATF Form 4473 if the transaction is denied or for some other reason is not completed?

FFLs must keep a copy of each ATF Form 4473 for which a NICS check has been initiated, regardless of whether the transfer of the firearm was made. If the transfer is not made, the FFL must keep the Form 4473 for 5 years after the date of the NICS inquiry. If the transfer is made, the FFL must keep the Form 4473 for 20 years after the date of the sale or disposition. Forms 4473 with respect to a transfer that did not take place must be separately maintained.

[27 CFR 478.129(b)]

Q: When should FFLs contact NICS?

FFLs should contact NICS after the transferee has completed Section A of the ATF Form 4473.

Q: For what period of time is a NICS check valid?

A NICS check is valid for 30 calendar days, as long as it applies to a single transaction. An FFL may not rely on a NICS check that was conducted more than 30 calendar days prior to the transfer of the firearm.

Example: A NICS check is initiated on December 15, 2004. The FFL receives a “proceed” from NICS. The purchaser does not return to pick up the firearm until January 22, 2005. The FFL must conduct another NICS check before transferring the firearm to the purchaser, and must record the results of the check on the Form 4473.

[27 CFR 478.124(c)]

Q: Is a NICS check valid for 30 days from when the check was initiated, or from when a “proceed” is issued?

The NICS check is valid for 30 days from when the check was initiated.

Example: A NICS check is initiated on December 15, 2004. The FFL receives a “proceed” response from NICS on December 17, 2004. The purchaser does not return to pick up the firearm until January 16, 2005. The FFL must conduct another NICS check before transferring the firearm to the purchaser.

Example: A NICS check is initiated on December 15, 2004. The FFL receives a “delayed” response from NICS; no further response is received. The purchaser does not return to pick up the firearm until January 16, 2005. The FFL must conduct another NICS check before transferring the firearm to the purchaser.

[27 CFR 478.124(c)]

Q: A purchaser places an order for a custom-made firearm, which will not be ready for at least 60 days. Should the NICS check be initiated on the date the order is placed or the day the firearm is ready for delivery?

The issue raised by this question also applies to lay-away purchases.

If the licensee knows that it will be more than 30 days before the firearm is ready, the licensee may want to wait until the firearm is ready for delivery (or in the case of a lay-away purchase, until full payment can be made) to have the purchaser complete Section A of the Form 4473 and contact NICS for a background check. This is because if the purchaser completes Section A of the Form 4473 on the date the order is placed, and a NICS check is initiated on that day, the licensee will have to conduct a second NICS check prior to transferring the firearm and the purchaser will have to complete section C of ATF Form 4473 at the time of delivery.

Q: Can one NICS check cover two or more separate firearms transactions?

No. An FFL must initiate separate NICS checks for separate transactions. However, an individual may purchase several firearms in one transaction.

Example: A purchaser completes an ATF Form 4473 for a single firearm on February 15. The FFL receives a “proceed” from NICS that day. The FFL signs the form, and the firearm is transferred. On February 20, the purchaser returns to the FFL’s premises and wishes to purchase a second firearm. The purchase of the second firearm is a separate transaction. Therefore, a new NICS check must be initiated by the FFL.

Example: A purchaser completes ATF Form 4473 for a single firearm on February 15. The FFL receives a “proceed” from NICS that day. The purchaser does not return to pick up the firearm until February 20. Before the FFL signs the Form 4473 for the first firearm, the purchaser decides to purchase an additional firearm. The second firearm may be recorded on the same Form 4473. The purchase of the 2 firearms is considered a single transaction. Therefore, the licensee is not required to conduct a new NICS check prior to transferring the second firearm.

Example: A purchaser wishes to purchase 1 rifle and 1 handgun. State law requires that a background check be conducted on the sale of all handguns. The State is acting as a point of contact (POC) for NICS checks for handgun sales, while the FBI is conducting NICS checks for long gun transactions in that State. To comply with State law, the dealer initiates a background check through the State POC. There is no need to initiate a separate background check through the FBI for the sale of the rifle, since the 2 firearms are being transferred in one transaction.

Q: If no exceptions to the NICS check apply, must an FFL always wait 3 business days before transferring a firearm to a transferee?

No. An FFL may transfer a firearm to a transferee as soon as he or she receives a “proceed” from NICS (assuming that the transaction would be in compliance with State law). However, if the FFL does not receive a final “proceed” or “denied” response from NICS, he or she must wait until 3 business days have elapsed prior to transferring the firearm.

Q: Will a State “instant check” or “point of sale check” system qualify as an alternative to a NICS check?

No. However, it should be noted that many States with their own background check requirements are also acting as points of contact for NICS checks.

Q: What happens if the transferee successfully appeals the NICS denial but more than 30 calendar days have elapsed since the initial background check was initiated?

The FFL must initiate another NICS check before the firearm may be transferred.

Q: How does a licensee know whether a permit may be accepted as an alternative to a NICS check?

Prior to November 30, 1998, ATF sent an open letter to licensees in each State, advising them what, if any, permits in that State qualified as alternatives to a NICS check at the time of transfer. Since that time, ATF has informed licensees when a State permit stopped qualifying and when a State permit became a qualifying NICS alternative. Licensees with questions about whether particular State permits are acceptable alternatives to NICS checks should contact their local ATF office, or check online at www.atf.gov.

Q: Does a permit qualify as an alternative to a NICS check if the purchaser is using it to purchase a type of firearm that is not covered by the permit?

Yes, assuming the transaction complies with State law.

Example: ATF recognizes the permit to purchase a handgun and the concealed weapons permit as alternatives to a NICS check in State A. Any purchaser who displays a permit to purchase a handgun or a concealed weapons permit in State A is not required to undergo a NICS check prior to purchasing a rifle, assuming the transaction complies with State law.

Example: In that same State, a person with a concealed weapons permit wants to purchase a handgun. State law prohibits the sale of any handgun to a person unless he or she has a permit to purchase a handgun. Accordingly, the licensee cannot lawfully sell the handgun (with or without a NICS check) unless the purchaser has a permit to purchase a handgun.

Q: ATF has recognized the concealed weapons permits in State A and State B as valid alternatives to a NICS check. Can a resident of State A use a concealed weapons permit issued by State A to purchase a longgun in State B without undergoing a NICS check?

No. A permit qualifies as a NICS alternative only if it was issued by the State in which the transfer is to take place.

[18 U.S.C. 922(t), 27 CFR 478.102(d)]

Q: If State law provides that permits are only valid for 2 years, can a licensee accept as a NICS alternative a permit that was issued 4 years ago?

No. The permit must be valid under State law in order to qualify as an alternative to a NICS check.

[18 U.S.C. 922(t), 27 CFR 478.102(d)]

Q: If the State has its own instant check system, must the licensee comply with State requirements for a background check as well as the Brady law?

Yes. If the State is not acting as a point of contact for NICS checks, the licensee may have to initiate 2 background checks by contacting (1) the FBI’s NICS Operations Center, and (2) the State system.

Q: If a licensee gets a “proceed” response from NICS, does he or she still have to wait until the expiration of the State waiting period before transferring the firearm?

Yes. Compliance with the Brady law does not excuse a licensee from compliance with State law.

Q: If a State is acting as a NICS point of contact (POC) and State law has requirements regarding the amount of time that a licensee must wait before transferring a firearm after contacting the State, should the licensee comply with the State requirements, the Federal requirements, or both?

The licensee must comply with both State and Federal requirements.

Example: State D is acting as a POC for NICS checks. State law requires a background check prior to the transfer of any firearm. State law also requires the licensee to wait 10 days to get a response from the State. The licensee must contact the State POC for a NICS check and a State background check. The licensee must comply with both Federal and State law by waiting 10 days for a response prior to transferring the firearm. If the licensee has not received a response from the State after 10 days, he or she may transfer the firearm.

Example: State E is acting as a POC for NICS checks. State law requires a background check prior to the transfer of any firearm. Under State law, the licensee may transfer the firearm if he or she gets no final response from the State by the next day. The licensee contacts the State POC for a NICS check, and gets a “delayed” response. Assuming that the licensee gets no further response from the State POC, the licensee must comply with both Federal and State law by waiting until 3 business days have elapsed prior to transferring the firearm.

Q: Does an individual (not a corporation or partnership) licensee have to conduct a NICS check on himself or herself prior to transferring a firearm to his or her own personal collection?

No. The regulations do not require a licensee to complete a Form 4473 prior to transferring a firearm to his or her own personal collection. A NICS check is not required either. Such transfers must be recorded in the manner prescribed by the regulations at 27 CFR 478.125a.

Q: Is a NICS check required for the sale of firearms registered under the National Firearms Act (NFA)?

No, assuming all NFA requirements have been satisfied.

[18 U.S.C. 922(t), 27 CFR 478.102(d)]

Q: An organization without a firearms license wishes to acquire a firearm from a licensee for the purpose of raffling the firearm at an event. How does the licensee comply with the Brady law?

The licensee must comply with the Brady law by conducting a NICS check on the transferee. If the licensee wishes to transfer the firearm to the organization, a representative of the organization must complete a Form 4473, and a NICS check must be conducted on that representative prior to the transfer of the firearm. Alternatively, if the licensee transfers the firearm directly to the winner of the raffle, the winner must complete a Form 4473, and a NICS check must be conducted on the raffle winner prior to the transfer.

Please note, if the organization’s practice of raffling firearms rises to the level of being engaged in the business of dealing in firearms, the organization must get its own Federal firearms license (and the examples below would not apply).

Example 1: A licensee transfers a firearm to the organization sponsoring the raffle. The licensee must comply with the Brady Law by requiring a representative of the organization to complete the Form 4473 and undergo a NICS check. As indicated in the instructions on the Form 4473, when the buyer of a firearm is a corporation, association, or other organization, an officer or other representative authorized to act on behalf of the organization must complete the form with his or her personal information and attach a written statement, executed under penalties of perjury, stating that the firearm is being acquired for the use of the organization and the name and ad-dress of the organization. Once the firearm had been transferred to the organization, the organization can subsequently transfer the firearm to the raffle winner without a Form 4473 being completed or a NICS check being conducted. This is because the organization is not an FFL. However, the organization cannot transfer the firearm to a person who is not a resident of the State where the raffle occurs and cannot knowingly transfer the firearm to a prohibited person.

Example 2: The licensee or his or her representative brings a firearm to the raffle so that the firearm can be displayed. After the raffle, the firearm is returned to the licensee’s premises. The licensee must complete a Form 4473 for the transaction and must comply with the Brady Law prior to transferring the firearm to the winner of the raffle. If the firearm is a handgun, the winner of the raffle must be a resident of the State where the transfer takes place, or the firearm must be transferred through another FFL in the winner’s State of residence. If the firearm is a rifle or shotgun, the FFL can lawfully transfer the firearm to the winner of the raffle as long as the transaction is over-the-counter and complies with the laws applicable at the place of sale and the State where the transferee resides.

Example 3: If the raffle meets the definition of an “event” at which the licensee is allowed to conduct business pursuant to 27 CFR 478.100, the licensee may attend the event and transfer the firearm at the event to the winner of the raffle. As in Example 2, the FFL must complete a Form 4473 and comply with the Brady law and the interstate controls in transferring the firearm.

Please note, procedures used in Examples 2 and 3 ensure that the winner is not a prohibited person and that there is a record of the final recipient of the firearm in the raffle.

[18 U.S.C. 922(t) and 922(a)(1)(A)]