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Publication Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2003: Trends for the Permanent Brady Period, 1999-2003

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

September 23, 2004    NCJ 204428

Describes background checks for firearm transfers conducted in 2003, and presents trends during the Permanent Brady Period (1999-2003). 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 background checks in selected States.


  • State and local agencies conducted background checks on about half of the applications for firearm transfers or permits in 2003, while the FBI was responsible for the remainder.
  • In 2003, 126,000 (1.6%) of approximately 7,831,000 applications for firearms transfers or permits were rejected by the FBI or State and local agencies.
  • An estimated 8,000 persons were arrested from 1999 to 2003 for an outstanding warrant or submission of false information on an application, according to ATF and checking agencies reporting arrests to FIST.

Part of the Background Checks for Firearm Transfers Series

Press Release
Full report (PDF 642K)
ASCII file (40K)
Spreadsheet (Zip format 36K)

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