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 Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Connecticut is a point-of-contact state for NICS. In Connecticut, all firearms transfers by licensed dealers are processed through the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (“DESPP”).1

In Connecticut, a person, firm, or corporation who seeks to sell a long gun at retail or handgun (whether a licensed dealer or private seller) must:

  • Have the transferee complete a written application and retain the application for at least 20 years or until he or she goes out of business;
  • Make the application available for inspection during normal business hours by law enforcement;
  • Transfer only to a transferee he or she knows personally or who presents appropriate identification (handguns only);
  • Obtain an authorization number from DESPP.2

DESPP must make reasonable “effort,” including a search of NICS, to determine if the applicant is eligible to receive a firearm.3

Private (unlicensed) individuals may not purchase or receive a firearm unless such person holds a: 1) permit to carry a pistol or revolver; 2) eligibility certificate for a pistol or revolver; 3) permit to sell at retail a pistol or revolver; or 4) long gun eligibility certificate. These permits are issued following a background check by DESPP on the applicant.4 See the Private Sales in Connecticut section.

In 2022, Connecticut enacted a “lie and try” law. If an individual attempts to purchase a firearm and, after performing a background check, DESPP determines that the individual is ineligible, DESPP shall inform the chief of police of the town in which the applicant resides, or, where there is no chief of police, the warden of the borough or the first selectman of the town, that there exists a reason that would prohibit such applicant from possessing a firearm.5

Prior to the transfer of any firearm at a gun show, the transferee must undergo a background check.6 See the Gun Shows in Connecticut section for more information.

To obtain an ammunition certificate, allowing a person to purchase ammunition in Connecticut, a person must request this certificate from the DESPP commissioner.7 After conducting the criminal history records check of the person using only their name and date of birth, the commissioner must issue the ammunition certificate unless the person is ineligible for a long gun eligibility certificate.8


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  1. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-36l(d)(1). See also Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at  (last visited July 8, 2013).[]
  2. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 29-33(c), 29-37a(d).[]
  3. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 29-33(c), 29-37a(d).[]
  4. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 29-28(b), 29-36f, 29-36g.[]
  5. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 29-33(c), 29-37a(d).[]
  6. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-37g(c).[]
  7. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-38n(a).[]
  8. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-38n(b).[]