See our Background Check Procedures policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
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.)
New Mexico is not a point of contact state for NICS.
Unlike federal law, New Mexico does not require firearms dealers to initiate a background check prior to selling a firearm from their own inventory. However, the state’s new background check law, enacted in 2019, requires unlicensed sellers to arrange for federally licensed dealers to conduct background checks on their prospective purchasers, and prohibits dealers from “unreasonably” refusing to perform such a background for a specified fee.1 For more information, see our page on Universal Background Checks in New Mexico.
In New Mexico, all firearms transfers by licensed dealers are processed directly through the FBI, which enforces the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.2
- 2019 NM SB 8 (enacting N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-7-7.1.)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, accessed October 22, 2020, https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/nics-participation-map.pdf/view.