Gun Background Check: Do You Need a Background Check to Buy a Gun?

article by Maria Perinic
March 26, 2020
While many American citizens are able to buy a gun in less than an hour of passing a background check, there are some steps you need to take first, which includes a background check. A gun background check considers criminal convictions, immigration status, and domestic violence history as deciding factors on whether you should own a gun or not. Depending on which state you live in, there can also be added waiting periods as well as expanded background checks.

“For more than a decade, the vast majority of the American public has supported laws requiring background checks on all firearm purchases, with polling data consistently showing that more than 90% of both gun owners and non-gun owners support this policy.” 

So, what will turn up on your background check? You can easily find out what will come up in your background check results by running your own check. Keep reading to find out how.

In light of the uncertainty of the global COVID-19 situation, we know that people are making the decision to arm themselves. Don’t show up to the store unprepared. Read on for more information about getting a proper background check before you make the purchase or try it here.

How to do a Self Gun Background Check

By now you’re probably wondering do you need a background check to buy a gun, do you need a background check for concealed carry permit and how long does a background check take for a gun? How do background checks work for guns? And what are the background checks for gun’s pros and cons?

It all depends on the state you live in, but it is a good idea to run a self background check first just to make sure you’re in the all-clear. The NICS reviewers have to make an instant decision, so if your report comes back clean, you will be fine, but sometimes the FBI needs a little more information in order to come up with a final determination.

Running a self-background check is very simple and will require payment via credit card or your PayPal account as well as your Social Security Number and an email account. Then, all you need to do is select the background check company you wish to use and choose the background check you would like to complete.

When doing a background check, you will be able to anticipate as well as address any questions that might come up in your results as well as uncover any inaccuracies that are presented in those results. The same thing goes for any relatives, neighbors or classmates that have gotten their hands on a gun recently. All you have to do is head over to the website of your chosen online background check company and type in their first and last names as well as their state.

A background check can include the following information:

  • Social Security Number
  • Credit report
  • Address history
  • Job history
  • Driving records
  • Education history
  • Specialized lists
  • Criminal background

How do background checks work for guns? Background checks for gun control allow for the FBI to look at whether the person in question:

  • Is convicted of a crime with a sentence of more than a year
  • Is a fugitive
  • Is under indictment for a crime with a sentence of more than one year
  •  Is in the United States illegally
  • Is classified as being mentally incompetent by the courts
  • Is in the United States on a non-immigrant visa
  • Has been dishonorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces
  • Has a documented history of domestic violence
  • Has an open warrant
  • Has a documented history of drug use

“Felony convictions are the most common reason for the gun background check system to reject an applicant, resulting in 865,910 denials during the 21 years that NICS has been in operation. More than 189,000 fugitives, 212,000 domestic offenders, and 148,000 unlawful drug users have also been blocked. The bar for denying someone on mental health grounds is very high, requiring that a person has been declared unsound or involuntarily confined to a psychiatric institution by a court or other authority. Fewer than 43,000 people have been denied under this criterion.”

Gun control background checks differ from state to state in the United States. So, if you decide to purchase a gun from a private individual, you can get guns for sale with no background check needed as federal law only requires dealers to conduct background checks.

Next, we’ll discuss what states have background checks for guns and what states have no background checks for guns.

What states have background checks for guns when purchasing from a private vendor?

  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Delaware
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Nevada

What states have no background checks for guns when purchasing from a private vendor?

  • Montana
  • Idaho
  • Arizona
  • Utah
  • Wyoming
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Kansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • New Mexico
  • Minnesota
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Arkansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Tennessee
  • Wisconsin
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Ohio
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • Maine
  • Alaska

Now you know which guns for sale are with no background checks needed and vice-versa. When it comes to background checks for guns pros and cons, there are loopholes in the system that allow anyone including domestic abusers, those with violent criminal records as well as people suffering from mental health issues in obtaining a firearm. Unfortunately, as many as 22% of gun owners in the US have gotten their most recent firearm without a background check. Worrying, isn’t it?

Best Self-Background Checks for Gun Owners

#1 BeenVerified


If you want to see what will come up on your background check, BeenVerified is one of the easiest and most detailed platforms to find out. It scours the internet for public records on individuals that have previously or presently live in the US. The great thing about BeenVerified is that you will be able to get a report on someone within just minutes, so if time is of the essence, BeenVerified is a great choice.

The information that comes up in a BeenVerified report includes things like your name, contact details, criminal or civil law issues, relatives, neighbors, and imposters. For an added fee, you can also find out details about education, bankruptcies, judgments, licenses or permits. Gun background checks online can be completed on the go as there are custom apps to choose from for both Android and iOS mobile devices.

You can sign up with BeenVerified for $22.86 per month, $14.86 per month for three months, or $9.83 per month for six months. Whilst it might be a little pricier than other services, the great thing about BeenVerified is that it affords you a comprehensive search that most other companies won’t provide you with.

Read more about BeenVerified in our extensive review.

Run a Gun Background Check Online And Get Information With BeenVerified Right Now

#2 PeopleLooker

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A gun purchase background check on yourself or someone you know is simple with PeopleLooker, however, the accuracy of the results depends on what information is available online. PeopleLooker searches millions of online records coming up with information such as:

  • Full name
  • Maiden name
  • Age
  • Known aliases
  • Address history with “last seen” date
  • Current address
  • Email addresses
  • Phone numbers

Satellite imagery and access to an in-depth property report for current addresses

If you wish to find out more about what will come up regarding your criminal history, there is a search for that too. This report will uncover:

  • Arrest or conviction records
  • Outstanding Warrants
  • Traffic violations
  • Speeding tickets
  • Detailed offense records, including the date and location of the crime
  • Federal, state, county, and local court databases
  • Most Wanted lists

PeopleLooker is priced at $18.28 per month and allows you unlimited reports, unlimited sex offender searches, criminal records, email, property, and phone look-ups.

The three-month plan costs less at $14.62 and provides the same. It should be noted that the three-month subscription is billed as a lump sum. While there are plenty of free background checks available online, your best bet is to pay for yours in order to receive the most accurate results available online.

Read more about PeopleLooker in our extensive review.

Gun Control Facts: Do You Need a Background Check to Buy a Gun?

Many people debate as to the universal background checks pros and cons when it comes to owning guns, but the facts truly speak for themselves. According to the Law Center, these are the gun control facts:

“36,000 Americans are killed by guns each year—an average of 100 per day”

“100,000 Americans are shot and injured each year”

“In 2017, gun deaths reached their highest level in at least 40 years, with 39,773 deaths that year alone”

“Gun deaths increased by 16% from 2014 to 2017”

“On average, fewer people die from gun violence in states with strong gun laws and more people die in states with weak gun laws”

“Three million American children are directly exposed to gun violence each year, resulting in lasting trauma, psychological distress, and decreased potential. Young children are disproportionately victims of domestic violence-related shootings, while teens are at increased risk of gun suicide and community-based gun homicide”

“1,500 children are shot and killed each year”

“Gun violence is the second-leading cause of death among children overall and the first leading cause of death among black children”

“When an abuser has access to a gun, a domestic violence victim is five times more likely to be killed”

“On average, one mass shooting—defined as an event in which four or more people are killed or injured with a firearm—happens every day in the United States”

“Six of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in the United States have happened in the last 10 years”

“Despite the large place they occupy in our public consciousness, mass shootings comprise a small fraction of all gun violence, with estimates showing that such violence constitutes less than 1% of all gun deaths”

“In 2018, a student’s risk of dying in a school shooting reached its highest level in at least 25 years. 60% of teens say they are worried about a shooting occurring at their school”

On the other hand, as many as three in ten American adults say that they own a gun, according to a Pew Research Center survey with almost half of all adults growing up in a household with guns. Among those that do own a gun, 66% of them claim to own more than one, with 29% of those people owning five or more firearms. The same survey reports that two-thirds of gun owners have guns for protection, with other reasons being hunting, sport shooting, gun collecting or for work.

It is widely agreed amongst Americans that gun laws should be stricter. From 2017 where 59% of people shared this belief, the number rose to 60% in September 2019.

“There are also gender and educational differences in these views. Nearly two-thirds of women (64%) favor stricter gun laws, compared with 55% of men. Adults with at least a four-year college degree are more likely than those who have not completed college to support stricter laws (72% vs. 55%).”

Now you know that the facts hold more weight than subjective universal background checks pros and cons around.

Background checks for gun control are there to ensure that firearms are used safely and by responsible gun owners. But do gun ranges do background checks? Any person entering a firing range has to fill out a waiver form which normally asks about your criminal history. Any felon present at a firing range where guns are present can be cause for arrest for violation of the Federal Firearms Act. Why do gun ranges do background checks? It adds another layer of security for those within the premises.


Gun ownership in the United States is a hot topic of contention, with many Americans divided over whether restricting legal gun ownership would promote fewer mass shootings and violence in general. With around thirty percent of Americans owning a firearm for protection, it is no wonder an increasing amount of states are getting more stringent in completing background checks on those wanting to own a gun.

Do you need a background check to buy a gun? If the answer is yes, you will probably want to look into getting a self background check completed just so you can be aware of any issues that might turn up in your report. Also, if you have a relative or a friend that has recently acquired a firearm, you might wish to complete a gun background check on them as well.