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.)
Minnesota is not a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks. In Minnesota, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.1
State law requires local law enforcement to perform an additional background check in certain situations. With certain exceptions, if a person wishes to acquire a handgun or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon from a federally licensed dealer but does not have a transferee permit or a permit to carry a handgun, state law requires the dealer to file a report with the local police chief or sheriff, who then performs a background check.2 Note that a transferee permit or permit to carry a handgun does not exempt the holder from the background check required by federal law, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the Brady Act.
Local law enforcement also must conduct a background check whenever a person applies for a transferee permit or a permit to carry a handgun.3
When performing a background check for any of these purposes, the chief of police or sheriff is required to check criminal histories, records and warrant information relating to the applicant through the Minnesota Crime Information System and any national criminal record repository (including NICS), and commitment information through the state Commissioner of Human Services.4
Minnesota 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.
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- ATF, “Permanent Brady State Lists,” accessed October 2, 2020, https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/permanent-brady-state-lists.
- Minn. Stat. § 624.7132, subd. 1, 2; see also Minn. Stat. § 624.7132, subd. 12(1) (exempting private sellers from this requirement).
- Minn. Stat. §§ 624.7131, subd. 2, subd. 4; 624.714, subd. 4.
- Minn. Stat. §§ 624.7131, subd. 2; 624.7132, subd. 2; 624.714, subd. 4.