January 8, 2001
CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS ON GUN PURCHASERS AT GUN SHOWS
By: Veronica Rose, Principal Analyst
You asked if the Brady law and Connecticut law require criminal background checks on people who buy guns from private individuals at gun shows.
The Brady law does not require criminal background checks on people who buy or obtain guns from private individuals at gun shows. It, with exceptions, requires national instant criminal system (NICS) background checks only on acquisitions from federal firearm licensees (FFLs) (18 USC § 922(s)). Among other exceptions, the law does not require a NICS check on any buyer with a valid state permit recognized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) as an alternative to the NICS check, if the permit was issued in the state where the transfer is to take place.
Connecticut does not have a single law explicitly requiring criminal background checks. But the requirement for such checks can be inferred from several laws. Under state law, anyone selling or otherwise transferring any gun (handgun or long gun) at a gun show must comply with the gun transfer procedures for retail transactions outlined in CGS § 29-361 as amended by PA 99-212 (§ 17). These procedures require the seller or transferor to get a Department of Public Safety (DPS) authorization number for the transfer, but they do not explicitly require DPS to conduct a criminal background check on the prospective gun recipient before issuing the number. It appears that DPS would be required to conduct the check pursuant to two other statutes that address gun transfers generally. One statute requires anyone selling or otherwise transferring handguns at retail to get a DPS authorization number for the transfer, and it requires DPS to perform a national instant criminal background check on the prospective gun recipient before issuing the number (CGS § 29-33, as amended by PA 99-212). A second statute contains a similar provision for long gun transfers (CGS § 29-37a, as amended by PA 99-212).
The law defines (1) a gun show as an event where people are offering or exhibiting at least 50 guns for sale, transfer, or exchange to the public and (2) a gun show promoter as one who plans, promotes, organizes or operates a gun show. It requires a promoter to notify the police chief of the date, time, duration, and location of a gun show at least 30 days before it starts. If there is no police chief, he must notify the first selectman or borough warden (PA 99-212, § 17).