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Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2018

NCJ Number
Connor Brooks
Date Published
October 2021
25 pages

This report is the seventeenth in a series produced by BJS. It details the number of applications for background checks for firearm transfers and permits received by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and state and local checking agencies. It reports the number of denials issued by these agencies and the reasons for denial. It also describes the types of permits or checks used by each state.


  • The FBI and state and local checking agencies received about 16.8 million applications for firearm transfers and permits in 2018.
  • About 230,000 (1.4%) applications for firearm transfers and permits were denied in 2018.
  • From when the Brady Act became effective in 1994 to 2018, about 250 million applications were subject to background checks and 3.8 million (1.5%) applications were denied.
  • In 2018, state checking agencies denied 2.5% of purchase permits, 1.3% of instant checks, 1.1% of exempt carry permits, and 0.7% of other approvals.