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Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not unlicensed “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 federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

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

Maine requires some private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. As of 2024, a background check is required for advertised private sales or for private sales at gun shows.2 See our Universal Background Checks policy summary. 

When the Department of Public Safety receives notification from a federal agency that a criminal background check indicates that a potential buyer or transferee is prohibited from receipt or possession of a firearm pursuant to a temporary or final protection from abuse order, the department shall make every reasonable effort to notify as quickly as practicable both the individual intended to be protected by the protection from abuse order and another law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in the municipality in which that individual resides of the information received from the federal agency.3


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  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at[]
  2. Me. Stat., 15 § 395.[]
  3. Me. Stat., 19 § 4114.[]