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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.)

Kentucky is not a point of contact state for the NICS.1 Kentucky has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Kentucky firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.

Kentucky does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See our Universal Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Brady Exemption

In Kentucky, concealed weapons permit holders whose permits were issued on or after July 12, 2006, qualify as exempt from background checks for five years when purchasing a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the Brady Act.2 Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination for a given state is subject to change without notice.3


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  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at (last visited Jul. 9, 2015).[]
  2. Under federal law, persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms are exempt from background checks if those permits were issued: 1) within the previous five years in the state in which the transfer is to take place; and 2) after an authorized government official has conducted a background investigation, including a search of the NICS database, to verify that possession of a firearm would not be unlawful.[]
  3. Note also that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or permit firearms if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.[]