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Dealer Regulations

Definition

Dealer regulations establish rules for anyone in the business of selling, lending, or trading firearms.

These regulations can apply to federally licensed dealers and/or private sellers, depending on the scope of the law. Federally licensed dealers are subject to the rules established by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), while private sellers are immune to most federal law, including requirements to conduct background checks on firearm purchasers. Private sales may occur at gun shows, through the internet, in cars, or within people's homes, and are illegal in some states.

Dealer regulations aim to promote firearm safety by holding dealers accountable for their guns and their customers. Because handguns are the most common type of firearm used in crime, many dealer regulations apply only to the sale of handguns, though states with broader firearm laws will often regulate both handgun and long gun sales.

Provisions

  • State license required for sale of handguns.
  • State license required for sale of all firearms.
  • Licensed dealers are required to keep and retain records of handgun sales.
  • Licensed dealers are required to keep and retain records of all firearm sales.
  • All private sellers and licensed dealers are required to keep and retain records of handgun sales.
  • All private sellers and licensed dealers are required to keep and retain records of all firearm sales.
  • Licensed dealers are required to report handgun sales records to state agencies.
  • Licensed dealers are required to report all firearm sales records to state agencies.
  • All private sellers and licensed dealers are required to report handgun sales records to state agencies.
  • All private sellers and licensed dealers are required to report all firearm sales records to state agencies.
  • Dealers may retain sales records for at least 60 days after firearm purchase and are not required to purge records.
  • State ban on non-commercial dealers.
  • Mandatory reporting of stolen guns by all firearm dealers.
  • State requires at least one store security precaution for firearm dealers.
  • Mandatory police inspections of commercial firearm dealers.
  • Dealers are liable for damages resulting from illegal gun sales.
  • Ban on the sale of junk guns (sometimes called "Saturday night specials").

Buyer Regulations

Definition

Buyer regulations are laws that gun purchasers must obey in order to obtain a firearm.

Like dealer regulations, these rules can specifically apply to the purchase of handguns or can regulate all firearm purchases. Federal buyer regulations limit the purchase of certain firearm models and set minimum age requirements for gun ownership.

Buyer regulations aim to prevent people from purchasing firearms for the purpose of violence. States attempt to achieve this either by (1) lengthening the process through which a person obtains a firearm or by (2) holding purchasers accountable for their firearms through fingerprinting/registration.

Provisions

  • Waiting period is required for all purchases from licensed dealers.
  • Waiting period is required for all purchases from licensed dealers.
  • A license or permit is required to purchase handguns.
  • A license or permit is required to purchase all firearms.
  • Permit application process involves law enforcement personnel.
  • Potential buyers must be fingerprinted at point of purchase.
  • Safety training or testing required to purchase a firearm.
  • Gun owners must register newly purchased handguns with the state.
  • Gun owners must register all newly purchased firearms with the state.
  • De facto registration of handguns is in place because of a recordkeeping requirement for all handgun sales.
  • De facto registration of handguns is in place because of a recordkeeping requirement for all firearm sales.
  • Purchase of long guns from licensed dealers and private sellers restricted to age 18 and older.
  • Purchase of long guns from licensed dealers restricted to age 21 and older.
  • Purchase of long guns from licensed dealers and private sellers restricted to age 21 and older.
  • Purchase of handguns from licensed dealers and private sellers restricted to age 21 and older.
  • Mandatory reporting of lost and stolen firearms by owner.
  • Buyers may purchase no more than one handgun per month with no or limited exceptions.

Prohibitions for High-Risk Gun Possession

Definition

Prohibitions of high-risk gun possession prevent individuals with a history of crime, substance use, or mental health issues from possessing firearms.

Federal law specifies nine types of individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. However, enforcement of these laws is imperfect, and can be strengthened when states reinforce these prohibitions in their own legislation. Some experts suggest that "preventing individuals who are deemed too risky or dangerous from obtaining firearms is arguably the most important objective of gun control policies."1

Prohibitions of high-risk gun possession aim to keep firearms out of the possession of dangerous individuals. States may choose to support federal prohibitions by (1) enacting them at the state level or by (2) expanding their scope to additional groups who pose a high risk for violent use of firearms.

1 Source: Bloomberg MR. Reducing gun violence in America: informing policy with evidence and analysis. Webster DW, Vernick JS, editors. JHU Press; 2013 Jan 25.

Provisions

  • Firearm possession is prohibited for people with a felony conviction.
  • Firearm possession is prohibited for people who have been involuntarily committed to an inpatient facility for mental health treatment.
  • Firearm possession is prohibited for people who have been involuntarily committed to an outpatient facility for mental health treatment.
  • Firearm possession is prohibited if person is deemed by court to be a danger to oneself or others.
  • Firearm possession is prohibited for people with a drug-related misdemeanor conviction.
  • Firearm possession is prohibited for people who are being treated for alcohol-related reasons.
  • Firearm possession is prohibited for some people with alcoholism.
  • Firearm possession is prohibited for people who have committed a violent misdemeanor punishable by more than one year of imprisonment.
  • Handgun possession is prohibited for people who have committed a violent misdemeanor punishable by less than one year of imprisonment.
  • Firearm possession is prohibited for people who have committed a violent misdemeanor punishable by less than one year of imprisonment.

Background Checks

Definition

Background check provisions establish requirements and procedures for firearm sellers to conduct criminal background checks on prospective firearm purchasers.

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 mandates that federally licensed firearm dealers perform background checks on all gun purchasers. These background checks, conducted via the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), use FBI resources to determine whether or not a prospective firearm purchaser is legally prohibited from possessing firearms.

Not all firearm sales are subject to this mandate, and there are gaps in the NICS database that can potentially allow individuals to purchase firearms even if they are legally prohibited from doing so. The list below provides some examples of federal background check inconsistencies.

  • If a NICS check is not completed within three days, the firearm sale can proceed without any additional investigation. This is known as the "three-day limit" or a "default proceed sale."
  • Private sellers, including those at gun shows, are exempt from federal background check requirements. This is known as the "gun show loophole."
  • States do not always submit mental health records to the NICS database. Without accurate information, individuals who are prohibited from buying a firearm due to their mental health history can bypass the system.

Provisions

  • All firearm sellers, either licensed or private dealers, are required to conduct universal background checks at the point of purchase for handguns.
  • All firearm sellers, either licensed or private dealers, are required to conduct universal background checks at the point of purchase for all firearms.
  • Background checks required for handgun sales at gun shows at the point of purchase.
  • Background checks required for all firearm sales at gun shows at the point of purchase.
  • State has either extended background check requirements to include all handgun sales, or background checks are conducted through a permit requirement for all handgun sales.
  • State has either extended background check requirements to all firearm sales, or background checks are conducted through a permit requirement for all firearm sales.
  • The law does not require that the state purge background check records within 60 days of the firearm purchase or permit application.
  • Background checks processes for firearm sales do not need to be completed before three days.
  • Background check procedures include an explicit requirement for search of state mental health records.
  • State conducts separate background checks, beyond NICS, for handgun purchases.
  • State conducts separate background checks, beyond NICS, for all firearm purchases.

Ammunition Regulations

Definition

Ammunition regulations establish rules for anyone in the business of buying or selling firearm ammunition.

Federal regulation of firearm ammunition usually accompanies the regulation of firearms, rather than existing independently. For example, the federal age requirements for ammunition purchase, by type of firearm and type of dealer, are the same as those for the purchase of firearms, and the populations that are prohibited from possessing firearms are also prohibited from possessing firearm ammunition.

Provisions

  • Vendor license required to sell ammunition.
  • Records of ammunition sales must be retained by the dealer.
  • Permit required to purchase ammunition.
  • Background checks required for ammunition purchases.
  • Sale of ammunition is restricted to the same categories of those who are legally allowed to purchase firearms.
  • Purchase of any type of ammunition restricted to those ages 18 and older.
  • Purchase of handgun ammunition restricted to those ages 21 and older.

Possession Regulations

Definition

Possession regulations establish age limitations for firearm possession, conditions under which possession is allowed, and places where gun carrying is permitted.

Federal possession regulations have been heavily informed by the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 and the 1996 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Lopez. According to federal law, individuals are prohibited from carrying a firearm in a K-12 school zone without a license or permit. In addition, federal law sets minimum age requirements to possess firearms that mirror the age requirements for private firearm sales—age 18 for handguns and no restriction for long guns. States have extended these possession regulations by raising minimum age requirements and strengthening bans on firearm possession near school zones and college campuses.

Possession regulations aim to limit the presence of guns in public places and among people who many not use firearms safely. This category shares similarities with high-risk gun possession prohibitions; however, that category is specifically comprised of prohibitions that can be identified through background checks, while these possession regulations have a broader scope.

Provisions

  • No possession of long guns until age 18.
  • No possession of long guns until age 21.
  • No possession of handguns until age 21.
  • Law enforcement officers may confiscate firearms from any person who is deemed by a judge to represent a threat to themselves or others.
  • Family members or law enforcement officers can initiate a process for confiscation of firearms from any person who is deemed by a judge to represent a threat to themselves or others.
  • No carrying of firearms on college campuses, with an exemption for concealed weapon permittees.
  • No carrying of firearms on college campuses, including concealed weapons permittees.
  • No carrying of firearms on elementary school property, including concealed weapons permittees
  • No open carrying of long guns is allowed in public places unless the person has a permit.
  • No open carrying of long guns is allowed in public places, with no exceptions.
  • No open carrying of handguns is allowed in public places, concealed carrying is permitted.
  • No open carrying of handguns is allowed in public places, with no exceptions.

Concealed Carry Permitting

Definition

Concealed carry provisions outline the process that individuals must undergo to obtain a permit to carry concealed firearms in their state.

The federal government does not regulate the concealed carry of firearms. This particular component of firearm safety legislation is widely debated, with states making very different decisions about how to control the distribution of concealed carry permits. All 50 states allow the concealed carry of firearms in at least some circumstances, and several states allow concealed carry without a permit.

Concealed carry policy debate often revolves around one of two topics: "may issue" versus "shall issue" and permit reciprocity. "May issue" versus "shall issue" regards whether or not concealed carry permitting authorities are allowed discretion in granting permits; in "may issue" states, these authorities can choose to withhold concealed carry permits from applicants, while in "shall issue" states, authorities must grant permits to anyone who meets state permit criteria. Separately, permit reciprocity pertains to whether or not a state recognizes concealed carry permits from other states. If a state has concealed carry permit reciprocity, individuals with out-of-state permits may legally continue to carry a concealed weapon while in that state. Because of the many nuances with reciprocity law, we have not yet tracked this provision, but plan to add it to later versions of the database. We do track "may issue" versus "shall issue" laws in the database.

Provisions

  • Permit is required to carry concealed weapons.
  • Law provides authorities with discretion in deciding whether to grant a concealed carry permit.
  • Law prohibits applicants from being approved for concealed carry permits unless they make a heightened showing, such as demonstrating a particular need to carry a concealed weapon.
  • Authorities are required to revoke concealed carry permits under certain circumstances.
  • Concealed carry permit process requires a background check.
  • Background check process for a concealed carry permit explicitly involves the NICS database.
  • Concealed carry permit renewal requires a new background check.

Assault Weapons and Large-Capacity Magazines

Definition

This category outlines state bans on the purchase and/or possession of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

In 1994, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban prohibited all manufacture, transfer, and/or possession of semiautomatic assault weapons and magazines capable of storing more than 10 rounds of ammunition. This ban expired in 2004, and was not renewed by Congress.

Most states have not implemented any limitation on the possession or purchase of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, before or after the enactment and expiration of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. However, some states have experimented with such laws, and the amount of legislation in this domain is growing.

Provisions

  • Ban on sale of assault weapons beyond just assault pistols.
  • Ban on sale of assault weapons using a one- feature definition.
  • Ban on sale of assault weapons which includes a list of banned weapons.
  • Law bans the sale of assault weapons. Individuals who already own assault weapons included in this ban must register their weapons.
  • Law bans the sale of assault weapons. Individuals who already own assault weapons included in this ban are prohibited from selling or transferring their weapons to others.
  • Ban on sale large capacity magazines beyond just ammunition for pistols.
  • No magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition may be sold.
  • Possession of pre-owned large capacity magazines is prohibited.

Child Access Prevention

Definition

Child access prevention regulations improve firearm safety by protecting children from accessing firearms. These policies establish firearm safety lock requirements and hold gun owners criminally liable for negligent gun storage.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 (PLCAA) mandated that federally licensed dealers provide handgun purchasers with a secure storage or safety device for that handgun. However, while the federal government requires the provision of handgun safety locks, it does not regulate firearm storage within private residences, nor does it penalize gun owners if children gain access to their guns. Some state governments have attempted to discourage children's unsupervised access to firearms by expanding safety lock and storage requirements, and by holding gun owners criminally liable if children gain access to their weapons.

States can expand their safety lock policies by reiterating the federal regulation within their own penal code, by applying this rule to private sellers, or by establishing quality standards for these locks. Safe storage regulations typically establish the conditions under which gun owners are criminally liable for enabling child access to firearms.

Provisions

  • Safety lock is required for handguns sold through licensed dealers.
  • Safety lock is required for handguns sold through all dealers.
  • Safety locks must meet state-specified standards or be otherwise approved by the state.
  • All firearms in a household must be stored securely (locked away) at all times.
  • Owner of gun is criminally liable if a gun is not stored properly and the child uses or carries the gun.
  • Owner of gun is criminally liable if a gun is not stored properly and a child gains access to the gun.
  • Owner of gun is criminally liable if a gun is not stored properly, regardless of whether a child actually gains access to the gun.
  • Owner of gun is criminally liable if child under age 14 gains access to the gun.
  • Owner of gun is criminally liable if child under age 16 gains access to the gun.
  • Owner of gun is criminally liable if child under age 18 gains access to the gun.
  • Owner of gun is criminally liable regardless of whether gun is loaded or unloaded.

Gun Trafficking

Definition

Gun trafficking regulations prohibit the sale of firearms with the intent to re-sell them; ban straw purchases; or require gun technology that helps trace firearms or ensure that a gun can be operated only by its owner.

Federal law does not criminalize gun trafficking, otherwise known as gun-running, in the United States. This significantly hinders the ability of law enforcement to trace illegal firearm activity. The combination of poor recordkeeping, background check loopholes, and straw purchasing allows individuals to obtain firearms with criminal intent. This unregulated gun market hampers gun violence prevention efforts.

States may attempt to decrease the frequency and impact of gun trafficking by improving gun identification systems and deterring straw purchases. Technologies such as microstamping and ballistic fingerprinting can contribute to attempts to reduce gun trafficking. However, in 2016, only three states—California, New Jersey, and Maryland—have currently enacted gun technology- related provisions.

Provisions

  • No person may purchase a handgun with the intent to re-sell to a person who is prohibited from buying or possessing a firearm.
  • No person may purchase any firearm with the intent to re-sell to a person who is prohibited from buying or possessing a firearm.
  • No person may purchase any firearm with the intent to re-sell without going through a background check or having already gone through a background check.
  • No person may purchase a handgun on behalf of another person.
  • No person may purchase any firearm on behalf of another person.
  • All handguns sold must have either ballistic fingerprinting or microstamping so that they can be identified if used in a crime.
  • State law has initiated a process to review implementation of a policy that requires new handguns to have a mechanism so that only the authorized user can operate the gun.

Domestic Violence

Definition

Domestic violence laws establish rules that prohibit certain individuals convicted of domestic violence-related crimes from possessing firearms.

An estimated 44% of domestic violence-related crimes involve firearms, and domestic violence-related incidents involving a gun are more likely to result in homicide than incidents involving any other weapon. Federal law prohibits individuals convicted of domestic violence, including those subject to permanent domestic violence-related restraining orders, from purchasing or possessing firearms.

Some states have codified federal law into their own statutes, while others have expanded beyond federal law to require domestic violence perpetrators to surrender their firearms or have them confiscated by law enforcement personnel.

Provisions

  • Those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence against a spouse, ex-spouse, or cohabitating partner are prohibited from possessing firearms.
  • Those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence are prohibited from possessing firearms.
  • Those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence against a spouse, ex-spouse, or cohabitating partner are required to surrender their firearms.
  • Those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence against a spouse, ex-spouse, or cohabitating partner are required to surrender their firearms with no exceptions.
  • Those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence are required to surrender their firearms.
  • State law allows law enforcement to remove firearms from those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
  • State law requires law enforcement to remove firearms from those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
  • Law enforcement is required to remove firearms involved in the scene of a domestic violence incident.
  • All firearms must be removed from the scene of a domestic violence incident.
  • Those subject to domestic violence-related restraining orders regarding a spouse, ex- spouse, or cohabitating partner are prohibited from possessing firearms.
  • Those subject to any domestic violence- related restraining order are prohibited from possessing firearms.
  • Those subject to domestic violence-related restraining order regarding a spouse, ex- spouse, or cohabitating partner are required to surrender their firearms.
  • Those subject to any domestic violence-related restraining order are required to surrender their firearms.
  • The requirement that those subject to a domestic violence-related restraining order must surrender their firearms is automatically required without any additional conditions necessary.
  • Those subject to an ex parte (temporary) domestic violence-related restraining order regarding a spouse, ex-spouse, or cohabitating partner are prohibited from possessing firearms.
  • Those subject to any ex parte (temporary) domestic violence-related restraining order partner are prohibited from possessing firearms.
  • Those subject to an ex parte domestic violence-related restraining order regarding a spouse, ex-spouse, or cohabitating partner are required to surrender their firearms.
  • Those subject to any ex parte domestic violence-related restraining order are required to surrender their firearms.
  • The requirement that those subject to an ex parte domestic violence-related restraining order must surrender their firearms is automatically required without any additional conditions necessary.
  • State law requires law enforcement to remove firearms from individuals who are subject to a domestic violence-related restraining order.
  • Those convicted of a stalking offense are prohibited from possessing firearms.

Preemption

Definition

Preemption laws prevent local governments from enacting firearm regulations that are more stringent than those established at the state level, such as city ordinances that ban firearms in public places or otherwise regulate the possession, sale, use, or purchase of guns.

Provisions

  • State law does not completely preempt local regulation of firearms.
  • Any law that preempts local regulation of firearms is narrow in its scope (i.e., in no more than one area of regulation).
  • State law does not preempt local regulation of firearms in any way.

Immunity

Definition

Immunity laws expand on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005, which federally prohibits civil liability actions from being brought against gun manufacturers, distributors, dealers or importers from damages resulting from the misuse of their products. States may expand on this law to protect gun manufacturers from liability at the state level for damages caused by the use of firearms.

Provisions

  • State does not have a law providing blanket immunity to gun manufacturers or prohibiting state or local lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

Stand Your Ground

Definition

Stand Your Ground laws refer to an extension of the Castle Doctrine, which allows individuals to protect their private property when at home with immunity from the law. The extension provides this immunity for the use of deadly force as a first resort in self-defense anywhere a person has a legal right to be, rather than requiring that a person has a duty to retreat to avoid conflict.

Provisions

  • State does not have a Stand Your Ground law.