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Federal law requires firearms dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), although resource limitations prevent the ATF from properly overseeing all its licensees.

Indiana requires that any person who sells, trades, transfers, exposes for sale, trade or transfer, or possesses with intent to sell, trade or transfer any handgun must possess, and display at all times, a retail handgun dealer’s license.1

To qualify for a license, an applicant must apply to the sheriff of the county in which he or she resides who must verify the application and conduct an investigation into the applicant’s “character and reputation.”2 The sheriff must forward the application, investigation results and his or her recommendation as to approval or disapproval to the state police. The state police must issue a license if it deems the applicant to be of “good character and reputation” and “a proper person to be licensed.”3 A “proper person” is someone who:4

(1) does not have a conviction for resisting law enforcement within five years before the person applies for a license or permit;

(2) does not have a conviction for a crime for which the person could have been sentenced for more than one year;

(3) does not have a conviction for a crime of domestic violence, unless a court has restored the person’s right to possess a firearm;

(4) is not prohibited by a court order from possessing a handgun;

(5) does not have a record of being an alcohol or drug abuser as defined;

(6) does not have documented evidence which would give rise to a reasonable belief that the person has a propensity for violent or emotionally unstable conduct;

(7) does not make a false statement of material fact on the person’s application;

(8) does not have a conviction for any crime involving an inability to safely handle a handgun;

(9) does not have a conviction for violation of the provisions of Article 47 (relating to weapons) within five years of the person’s application;

(10) does not have an adjudication as a delinquent child for an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult, if the person applying for a license or permit is less than twenty-three (23) years of age;

(11) has not been involuntarily committed, other than a temporary commitment for observation or evaluation, to a mental institution by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority;

(12) has not been the subject of a:

(A) ninety day commitment as a result of proceeding under section 12-26-6; or

(B) regular commitment under section 12-26-7; or

(13) has not been found by a court to be mentally incompetent, including being found:

(A) not guilty by reason of insanity;

(B) guilty but mentally ill;

(C) incompetent to stand trial; or

(14) is not currently designated as dangerous (as defined in section 35-47-14-1) by a court following a hearing under section 35-47-14-6 (risk warrants).

Additionally, no retail dealer’s license may be issued to any person who has been:

  • Convicted of a felony in any state or country; or
  • Adjudicated a delinquent child for an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult in any state or country, if the person applying for the retail dealer’s license is less than 23 years of age.5

A dealer license that was applied for after June 30, 2011, is valid for six years from the date of issue.6

A retail dealer’s business may be carried on only at the site designated in the license, and a separate license is required for each separate retail outlet.7 The license itself must be displayed on the business premises in a prominent place where it can be seen easily by prospective customers.8 In addition, no handgun may be sold in violation of any provision of Chapter 35-47-2 or under any circumstances unless the purchaser is personally known to the seller or presents clear evidence of his or her identity.9

A dealer may not sell, rent, trade, or transfer from the dealer’s inventory a handgun to a person not licensed to carry a handgun under state law until the dealer has:

  • Obtained the completed and signed ATF Form 4473;10
  • Contacted the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) by telephone or electronic means to request a background check; and
  • Received authorization from NICS to transfer the handgun to the prospective purchaser.11

In addition, the dealer must record the NICS transaction number on Form 4473 and retain that form for auditing purposes.12

For laws applicable to both licensed and private firearm sellers, please see the Indiana Private Sales section.

Indiana has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate a background check prior to transferring a long gun. Nevertheless, prior to transferring a long gun in Indiana, a dealer must initiate the background check required by federal law.13


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  1. Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-2-14, 35-47-2-15(a), (b).[]
  2. Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-2-15(a).[]
  3. Id.[]
  4. Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-1-7.[]
  5. Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-2-15(f).[]
  6. Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-2-15(d).[]
  7. Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-2-16(a).[]
  8. Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-2-16(b).[]
  9. Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-2-16(c).[]
  10. As specified in Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-2.5-3.[]
  11. Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-2.5-4(a).[]
  12. Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-2.5-4(b).[]
  13. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at (last visited Oct 24, 2011).[]