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Publication Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2015 - Statistical Tables

Jennifer C. Karberg, Ronald J. Frandsen, Joseph M. Durso, Regional Justice Information Service, Trent D. Buskirk, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts - Boston, Allina D. Lee, Bureau of Justice Statistics

November 30, 2017    NCJ 250978

Describes background checks for firearms transfers conducted in 2015 and presents estimates of firearm applications received and denied annually since the effective date of the Brady Act in 1994 through 2015. Statistical tables provide data on the number of firearm applications processed by the FBI and state and local agencies, number of applications denied, reasons for denial, and estimates of applications by jurisdiction and by each type of approval system. Findings are based on data from BJS's Firearm Inquiry Statistics program, which annually surveys state and local background checking agencies to collect information on firearm background check activity and combines this information with the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System transaction data to generate national estimates.


  • Since the effective date of the Brady Act on February 28, 1994, through December 31, 2015, nearly 197 million applications for firearm transfers or permits were subject to background checks and more than 3 million applications (1.5%) were denied.
  • Nearly 17 million applications for firearm transfers were received in 2015, up from an estimated 15 million in 2014.
  • About 1.4% of the nearly 17 million applications for firearm transfers or permits in 2015 were denied: about 107,000 by the FBI and about 119,000 by state and local agencies.
  • Among state agency reporters, denial rates in 2015 were 3.0% for purchase permits, 1.5% for instant checks, 1.1% for other approval checks, and 1.1% for exempt carry permits.
  • Local agencies denied 4.2% of applications for purchase permit checks and 1.1% of applications for exempt carry permits.

Part of the Background Checks for Firearm Transfers Series

Full report (PDF 477K)
Comma-delimited format (CSV) (Zip format 39K)

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