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.)
Vermont is not a point of contact state for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Vermont has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Vermont firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.1
A law enacted in 2018 now generally requires gun sales or transfers between unlicensed individuals to be processed by a licensed firearms dealer, pursuant to a background check. For more information about this law, see the Universal Background Checks in Vermont section.
In 2022, Vermont narrowed the “Charleston Loophole” by prohibiting a seller from transferring a firearm to a buyer until either the seller receives a unique identification number from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System or seven business days have elapsed.2
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- ATF, “Permanent Brady State Lists,” accessed October 8, 2020, https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/permanent-brady-state-lists.
- Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(d)(2).