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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.)

Oregon is a point of contact state for the NICS.1 Before the sale or transfer of any firearm, a firearms dealer must request by telephone that the Oregon Department of State Police (DSP) conduct a criminal history record check on an applicant using NICS and state databases (including the state’s mental health data system).2 For this purpose, the dealer must check the purchaser’s identification, complete a firearms transaction record, and obtain the signature and thumbprints of the purchaser.3 If DSP is unable to determine, within 30 minutes, whether the purchaser is qualified or disqualified from completing the transfer, DSP shall notify the dealer and provide the dealer with an estimate of the time when DSP will provide the requested information.4 If DSP fails to provide the dealer with an approval number or notify the gun dealer that the purchaser is disqualified from obtaining the firearm before the close of the gun dealer’s next business day following the dealer’s background check request, the dealer may deliver the firearm to the purchaser.5

All background checks for firearm transfers include a search of Oregon’s computerized criminal history system, the Law Enforcement Data System, NICS, the state stolen guns system, and the state mental health data system.6

In 2015, Oregon closed the private sale loophole by enacting a law requiring private or unlicensed firearm sellers to conduct background checks on private or unlicensed purchasers (see Private Sales in Oregon  for more information).

As of January 1, 2019, when DSP conducts a background check on a prospective purchaser, if DSP determines that the individual is prohibited from possessing a firearm under state law, within 24-hours, DSP is required to report the attempted purchase to all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and district attorneys that have jurisdiction over the location(s) where the attempted purchase was made and where the purchaser resides.7 Under certain circumstances, DSP may also be required to report the attempted purchase to other state officials and agencies.8


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  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at []
  2. Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 166.412(2)(d), 166.432(1), 166.434(1).[]
  3. Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.412(2)(a)-(c).[]
  4. Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.412(3)(b).[]
  5. Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.412(3)(c).[]
  6. Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.432. For DSP’s rules regarding background checks, see Or. Admin. R. 257-010-0010 et seq.[]
  7. Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 166.412(7)(c), 166.436(5)(c), effective January 1, 2019.[]
  8. Id.[]