According to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, there are sixteen states that require a background check of some sort on private party sales: six that require them on all firearm sales (CA, CO, IL, NY, OR, RI); three that require them on handgun sales (CT, MD, PA); and seven other states that require a permit and background check for handgun purchase (HI, IA, MA, MI, NJ, NC, NE). It turns out that CSGV is wrong about Hawaii and New Jersey: both require a permit to purchase not only handguns, but long guns as well.
I am starting to gather information on the effectiveness of these private party firearms purchase background check laws. I am skeptical that they are effective at reducing total murder rates (although might be effective at reducing gun murder rates). To find out for sure, I need to know the year that each of these sixteen states adopted these requirements. Colorado, obviously, is this year, and so is New York. Especially if you live in these remaining fourteen states (CA, IL, NY, OR, RI, CT, MD, PA, HI, IA, MA, MI, NJ, NC, NE), could I prevail upon you track down:
1. The statute that requires private party sales or transfers to go through a background check or license issuance (and hopefully the URL to that statute).
2. The year first adopted (which ideally should be in the statute that you reference). If the law was adopted before 1960 (as I suspect will be the case with HI), that is really all I need to know (before there's no useful murder stats before then).
Please either add what you find to the comments (so that others can see what states are done) or email them, and I will update here.
This is curious. There is, of course, a background check for handguns at Connecticut General Statutes 29-33, and there is a requirement for long guns at 29-37a, but it appears to be specific to dealers:
(a) No person, firm or corporation may deliver, at retail, any firearm, as defined in section 53a-3, other than a pistol or revolver, to any person unless such person makes application on a form prescribed and furnished by the Commissioner of Public Safety, which shall be attached by the vendor to the federal sale or transfer document and filed and retained by the vendor for at least twenty years or until such vendor goes out of business. Such application shall be available for inspection during normal business hours by law enforcement officials. No sale or delivery of any firearm shall be made until the expiration of two weeks from the date of the application, and until the person, firm or corporation making such sale, delivery or transfer has insured that such application has been completed properly and has obtained an authorization number from the Commissioner of Public Safety for such sale, delivery or transfer.There is a provision for background checks for gun sales at gun shows at 29-37g, but nowhere else (because guns sold in dark alleys in New Haven will never be criminally misused). Does anyone know of any general requirement in Connecticut law for background checks for private party sales? I can't find it.
Hawaii Revised Statutes 134-2:
(a) No person shall acquire the ownership of a firearm, whether usable or unusable, serviceable or unserviceable, modern or antique, registered under prior law or by a prior owner or unregistered, either by purchase, gift, inheritance, bequest, or in any other manner, whether procured in the State or imported by mail, express, freight, or otherwise, until the person has first procured from the chief of police of the county of the person's place of business or, if there is no place of business, the person's residence or, if there is neither place of business nor residence, the person's place of sojourn, a permit to acquire the ownership of a firearm as prescribed in this section....It appears from the legislative history under WestLaw that this law dates back to "Laws 1988, ch. 275, § 2." On the other hand, the Hawaii Police Department web page says,
(e) Permits to acquire a pistol or revolver shall require a separate application and permit for each transaction. Permits issued to acquire any rifle or shotgun shall entitle the permittee to make subsequent purchases of rifles or shotguns for a period of one year from the date of issue without a separate application and permit for each acquisition, subject to the disqualifications under section 134-7 and subject to revocation under section 134-13; provided that if a permittee is arrested for committing a felony or any crime of violence or for the illegal sale of any drug, the permit shall be impounded and shall be surrendered to the issuing authority.
Registration is not mandatory for rifles and shotguns acquired in the state of Hawaiʻi prior to July, 1994. However, one permit per rifle or shotgun was required for acquisitions between 1981 and July, 1994.This suggests that there was a permit requirement starting in 1981. I have not found it yet. This article seems to have the history of it, but I have not yet found the full article anywhere. Here is the full text of that article. On p. 55, it claims that for the first time after passage of 1981 session law ch. 239, Hawaii required a permit to purchase all long guns. Another reader points to State v. Auwae (Hawaii.App. 1998) which seems to indicate that purchase permits go back much further:
1927 Sess. L., Act 206, § 4, at 209 *fn9 (emphasis added). In 1933, the legislature amended the 1927 Sess. L., Act 206, §4 to read, "No person who has been convicted . . . of having committed or attempted a crime of violence, shall own or have in his possession or under his control a pistol or revolver or ammunition therefor." 1933-34 Sess. L., Act 26, § 6, at 38. The reason for the amendment was as follows:
[T]o give the law enforcing agencies of the Territory a better means of controlling the sale, transfer and possession of firearms and ammunition. [The Bill] provides for the registration of all firearms now possessed by persons living in the Territory, prohibits the subsequent acquisition of firearms other than shotguns by non-citizens and provides an effective method of registration, etc.
House Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 89, in 1933 House Journal, at 427. The legislature did not specifically address the language of § 6 or comment on the addition of the words "or ammunition therefor."*fn10
This particular case was primarily involved with a different question, but it seems to indicate that purchase of all guns were subject to some sort of background check as early as 1933.
A reader who is very industrious and skilled in searching has found:
Revised laws of Hawaii 1945 are archived here:
7183 and 7186 are the bits on license and posession. They appear pretty similar to the 1935 version in snippet view on Google books as sections 2542 and 2545:
No person shall take possession of any firearms of any description, whether usable or unusable, serviceable or unserviceable, modern or antique, registered under prior law or unregistered, or of any ammunition of any kind or description, except shotgun ammunition, either through sale, gift, loan, bequest, or otherwise, whether procured in the Territory or imported by mail, express, freight, or otherwise, until he shall first have procured from the chief of police of the county wherein is his place of business, or if there be no place of business, his residence, or if there be neither place of business nor residence, his place of sojourn, a permit to acquire as prescribed herein.
It appears that Hawaii's background check law is considerably older than the beginning of useful murder rates data.
The requirement is that no one may transfer a firearm except to someone with a Firearms Owner Identification Card (FOID), which requires a background check to obtain, in 430 ILCS 65. While I can only find snippet text indicators of when the law was passed, it is clear that it is 1967, so in effect for the full year of 1968.
The current law's requirement for a permit to purchase a handgun appears to date back to 1977. Iowa Code 724.16, requiring a permit to purchase a handgun, replaced what this 1977 supplement to the Iowa Code refers to as a permit to sell (see p. 64). The current law is here.
Maryland Code 5-124 requires all "Secondary Sales" (private parties) to go through a background check. This was first adopted as part of the Gun Violence Act of 1996, and readopted in 2003. The session law Ch. 561. starts here. It requires handguns and assault weapons to go through a background check for all sales.
Very curious. The 1968 law that requires a Firearms ID card or License to Carry to purchase a firearm apparently did not explicitly require private party sales to have a background check. (This was added in 1998.) Still, it is quite apparent that you needed an FID or LTC to purchase a firearm in Massachusetts starting in 1968, and both required a background check. I think it is clear that Massachusetts has required a background check to get either FID or LTC, and you could not legally buy a firearm from anyone without one or the other.
As I kinda remembered, Michigan's first permit to purchase a pistol (effectively, a background check law) dates back to 1927 (p. 14). It is widely believed that the unmitigated gall of a black man, a physician, who bought a house in a white neighborhood, then used a pistol to defend his home from a white mob, caused passage of this law.
Minn. Stat. 624.7132 requires a transfer of a handgun or "semiautomatic military-style assault weapon" to undergo a background, including private party sales. The handgun provision was adopted May 24, 1977; assault weapons were added to the requirement in 1994. However: it does not apply to private party sales unless the transferee commits a crime of violence within a year of receiving the weapon, could not lawfully possess a weapon on the date of transfer, then the seller can be punished with a misdemeanor. In short, there is no background check requirement for private party sales.
The current statute is Nebraska Revised Statute 69-2403, which applies to effectively all handgun transfers, with exemptions for family members, rental or range use, and the like. It appears to date back to 1991. Here is a source that indicates that the session law is LB 355, ch. 69, 1991. That would the first full year of the law would be 1992.
Current statute is N.J. 2C Code of Criminal Justice 58-3. Handgun permits and firearms ID cards are different, but in both cases, it is a criminal matter to transfer a firearm without a background check. The current law seems to date to 1966, but it turns out:
At least as early as 1951 there seems to be a law in New Jersey requiring a permit and ID card to buy firearms.
HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES
The pistol permit to purchase law was adopted in 1919, so there is no way to do useful research on the effects of the law on murder rates.
There is a background check requirement for all firearms at gun shows (ORS 166.438, apparently passed by initiative in 2000.) But not, apparently, anywhere else. (I guess that the evil rays that cause criminal acts only emanating from guns when they are displayed for sale in close proximity.) Oregon does not have a mandatory background check for private party sales.
18 Penn. Cons. Stat. Ann. 6111 seems to be what requires all private party handgun sales to go through a background check. No luck on finding when this was adopted. Even though section 6111 says "firearm" section 6102 defines it as a concealable firearm. BATF's Firearms State Laws and Published Ordinances (1994) still does not have the requirement for private party background checks for handguns; this session law 1997-5 appears to be what creates the current 18 Penn. Cons. Stat. Ann 6111; it would appear that the first full year of private party handgun sales being subject to background check is 1998.
Mandatory background checks for all handgun sales are in Rhode Island General Laws 11-47-35; for rifles and shotguns in Rhode Island General Laws 11-47-35.2. The long gun provision, 11-47-35.2 was 1990 R.I. ALS 37; 1990 R.I. Pub. Ch. 37; 1990 R.I. SB 2165, adopted 1990, effective July 1, 1990. For handguns, in effect at least as early as 1956, appearing in Rhode Island Gen.Laws 1956, § 11-47-35.
Thanks to all for your help!