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Publication Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2004

Michael N. Bowling, Ph.D., Gene A. Lauver, Regional Justice Information Service, Matthew J. Hickman, Ph.D., Devon B. Adams, Bureau of Justice Statistics

October 1, 2005    NCJ 210117

Describes background checks for firearm transfers conducted in 2004. This annual report provides the number of applications checked by State points of contact, estimates of the number of applications checked by local agencies, the number of applications rejected, the reasons for rejection, and estimates of applications and rejections conducted by each type of approval system. It also provides information about appeals of rejected applications and arrests for falsified applications. The Firearm Inquiry Statistics Program, managed under the National Criminal History Improvement Program, is an ongoing data collection effort focusing on the procedures and statistics related to presale firearms background checks in selected States.


  • Total applications for firearm transfers or permits increased 3.2% nationwide, from 7,831,000 in 2003 to 8,084,000 in 2004.
  • In 2004 the rejection rate for applications checked by the FBI (1.4%) was lower than that for checks by State and local agencies (1.8%).
  • A felony conviction or indictment was the most common reason for rejection during 2004 by State or local agencies (50%) and the FBI (38%).

Part of the Background Checks for Firearm Transfers Series

Full report (PDF 143K)
ASCII file (40K)
Spreadsheet (Zip format 14K)
To order paper version

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Firearm Inquiry Statistics (FIST) program

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