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Publication Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2002

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 17, 2003    NCJ 200116

Describes background checks for firearm transfers conducted in 2002. 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 firearms transfers or permits in 2002 while the FBI was responsible for the remainder.
  • In 2002, 136,000 (1.7%) of approximately 7,806,000 applications for firearm transfers or permits were rejected by the FBI or State and local agencies.
  • In 2002 the majority of rejections for State and local agencies, (52%) were due to applicants' felony convictions or indictments; about 14% were rejected for a domestic violence misdemeanor conviction or restraining order.

Part of the Background Checks for Firearm Transfers Series

Press Release
Full report (PDF 345K)
ASCII file (40K)
Spreadsheet (Zip format 26K)
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