For those in North Dakota who want to purchase a firearm, the process is fairly straightforward if they are eligible to own one.
North Dakota follows federal guidelines and the state doesn’t have specific laws related to gun purchases.
Joel Wood, owner of 4 J Gun Pro in Hazen, said all sales and repairs of guns in North Dakota are subject to a federal instant background check.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check, or NICS, is an electronic check through the FBI.
Wood said prospective firearm buyers must complete information on Form 4473 under federal law, the Brady Act of 1993.
Wood said the first question is if the person is the actual buyer of the gun. The law prohibits people from buying firearms for others.
Buyers also must provide their full name, place of birth, current address and a physical description such as height and weight and ethnicity.
The form asks for the person’s Social Security number, which is optional, Wood said.
Potential buyers also must answer questions on criminal history, citizenship status, mental health status, controlled substance use, if they were dishonorably discharged from the U.S. military and if they have been convicted of domestic crimes or other crimes that carry a penalty of one year in prison.
Wood said buyers also must show a form of photo identification and sign and date the application, stating the information is correct under penalty of perjury laws.
Wood said the electronic check of a person’s background is almost instantaneous.
“It take seconds if everything is clear,” he said. “It takes a lot longer to fill out the form.”
Once the electronic background check is started, Wood said, the result can go one of three ways: Proceed with the sale, deny the sale or delay the sale.
If everything checks out, Wood said the seller of the firearm records the make, model, caliber and serial number of the gun.
“That information is kept virtually forever,” he said.
The same information is kept with the gun manufacturer as well as the retailer so if needed, a gun can be tracked from the serial number to the factory of origin on to the retailers and ultimately to the person who purchased the firearm.
Wood said the same laws apply at gun shows or banquets where firearms are bought and sold.
The laws require gun dealers at gun shows to conduct the same background check during a sale and those laws also apply to Internet purchases in North Dakota, Wood said.
“So there is a pretty extensive paper trail,” he said.
Some states prohibit the sale of firearms between private parties, such as friends or neighbors, Wood said, but North Dakota is not among them.
Wood said the same laws apply to firearms that are brought into licensed dealers for gunsmithing work.