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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 federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

South Dakota is not a point of contact state for the NICS. South Dakota has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm (although South Dakota does prohibit a dealer from selling a handgun unless the purchaser is personally known to the dealer or presents clear evidence of his or her identity1). As a result, in South Dakota, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.2

South Dakota does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See our Private Sales policy summary .


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  1. S.D. Codified Laws § 23-7-18.[]
  2. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at (last visited April 12, 2012).[]