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Do Pawn Shops Run Background Checks for Guns?

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Many felons can recall having a gun before their felony conviction. They may have owned a gun or wanted to sell or buy one at a pawn shop.

This blog post will address the question of whether or not pawn shops run background checks for guns.

  • What Is Included in a Background Check?
  • Pawn Shop
  • Pawn Shop Background Check?
  • Firearm Restrictions
  • Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?
  • Recommended Action


What Is Included in a Background Check?

Places like a pawn shop could review a customer’s background because they may not want to allow access to someone who is dishonest and has a criminal record. This may be a challenge for felons. Their criminal history can be a problem even if they are now committed to living an honest lifestyle.

A background check completed by an employer or a pawn shop may view at least some of the following:

  • Credit reports
  • Driving records
  • Educational records
  • Criminal offenses

When going to a pawn shop, criminal offenses will be the focus of any background check that is run. This allows a gun range to identify risks for security and safety issues.

The criminal record review conducted of a background check includes examining criminal history files for any criminal offenses, which will reveal all convictions and non-convictions, including cases not prosecuted or ones dismissed. Convictions can be reported with no time limit while a non-conviction will show up for seven years. A crime will not show up on a background check if a felon has his or her record expunged.

Pawn Shop

Pawn shops offer loans, secured by something of value as collateral. When an item is taken in, the pawnbroker will offer a loan. If the loan is accepted, the pawn broker then keeps the item until the loan is repaid. The length of the loan is usually one to four months. If an item is not reclaimed during that period, and the loan is repaid, the pawnbroker keeps the item to resell.

Pawn shops are governed by federal laws that apply to financial institutions. The federal laws that regulate the pawn industry are:

  • Patriot Act
  • Truth in Lending Act
  • Equal Credit Opportunity Act
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Rules

Pawn shops that deal in firearms are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Pawn shops may also be Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders.

When it comes to pawning firearms, it only requires a valid state-issued identification card. A person must be 21 to pawn a pistol and 18 to pawn a rifle. For convicted felons and other prohibited individuals, picking the weapon backup may not be as easy. Although a pawn shop only needs a valid ID to accept a weapon, the gun owner must pass a background check to get it back.

Pawn Shops Run Background Checks for Guns?

When someone pawns an item, a pawn shop may be legally required to at least see an ID. State laws in many states require pawn shops to take someone’s ID to begin. Sometimes pawn shops may be required to take a photo along with a fingerprint. This is used by the police department to determine the identity of anyone involved with another crime. Pawn shops report to police departments daily regarding potentially stolen goods.

Pawn shops that buy guns typically are federally licensed gun dealers. In order to claim back or purchase a gun, a customer must have a valid state ID and a permit to buy or carry a gun. All buyers and sellers must complete a firearms transaction record, which includes questions regarding:

  • Criminal history
  • Drug use
  • Military service citizenship
  • Domestic violence convictions
  • Mental deficiencies

Lying on this form can lead to a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine.

Pawn shops complete the form and maintain a record of any gun transaction by recording:

  • Type of firearm
  • Model
  • Caliber
  • Serial number
  • Buyer’s ID

A pawn shop will process the application through the National Instant Criminal System (NICS) for a background check. This will check to see if a buyer’s name and birth year match the identity of anyone who is ineligible to buy a firearm.

This check can take 10 to 15 minutes, although the FBI can take three days to complete the review. This background check will result in one of three conclusions:

  • Proceed
  • Delayed
  • Denied

Proceed means someone can purchase a firearm immediately. Delayed means having to wait to hear the results. Possible reasons for the delay include:

  • Having an extremely common name
  • Having had a security clearance in the military
  • If the Social Security Number is similar to that of a convicted felon
  • If there are unpaid speeding or parking tickets

Denied means a pawn shop cannot release the firearm to someone. This can be because of a felony conviction or any conviction for domestic violence.

Firearm Restrictions

Buyers must be at least 21 years old to purchase a handgun and at least 18 to buy a semiautomatic rifle. Buyers are not allowed to have a crime of violence on their record. There also can be no prior convictions involving:

  • Drugs
  • Gang-related crimes
  • Other criminal activity within the past three years

Buyers are not allowed to be fugitives from justice, illegal aliens, or dishonorably discharged from the military.

Anyone who receives a firearm from a pawn shop is subject by law to a background check, which will be the same as a background check done when someone purchases a firearm through any gun dealer.

A licensed pawnbroker may conduct a NICS background check when someone attempts to pawn a firearm. If NICS advises the pawnbroker that the possession of a firearm by a person attempting to pawn a firearm would violate the law, the pawnbroker must advise local law enforcement within 48 hours.

A pawnbroker cannot return a firearm to a person who is ineligible to receive or possess firearms because of age, disability, or criminal history. Redeeming a pawned firearm is subject to all record-keeping requirements under the gun control act. An ATF Form 4473 must be completed along with a NICS background check.

Anyone who wants to buy a gun from a federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL), which is the case for most pawn brokers, is subject to a background check. A potential buyer must complete form 4473 which includes 16 questions relating to background, drug use, and criminal history.

Anyone considered to be high risk or possessing a firearm will not be allowed to purchase a firearm, including:

  • Criminal and mental health history
  • Dishonorable military discharges
  • Unlawful immigration status
  • Open warrants
  • Documented history of domestic violence
  • Drug use

Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?

Doing a background check on him or herself before trying to buy a gun at a pawn shop will allow a felon to know exactly what will be discovered when the pawn shop does its review. A felon with any questions can contact an attorney. It is essential to take action and not risk a chance on the results.

There are different kinds of personal background checks that a felon can run:

  • From the court in which he or she was charged
  • A credit report will help determine how financially responsible an individual is
  • Driving records for any job involving driving, such as a truck driver
  • An educational report through the National Student Clearing House

For someone wanting to do a background check on themselves, there are places that can help. A felon would have the best chance at buying a gun at a pawn shop by having his or her record expunged.

Recommended Action

While a felon is denied the ability to use or own a firearm and cannot buy a gun at a pawn shop, there are procedures available to regain this right, known as restoring firearm rights. First, the applicant must not have been convicted of a, “forcible,” felony within the past 20 years. Also, at least 20 years must have elapsed since the end of any incarceration for that felony.

Next, the applicant’s criminal history and reputation must indicate that the applicant will not act in a manner considered dangerous to public safety. Additionally, restoring firearm rights must not be considered contrary to the public interest or federal law. 

Another way to have firearm rights restored is by seeking a presidential pardon. In order to obtain a federal pardon, felons must wait five years after the completion of their sentence. Then they may contact the federal government regarding clemency. They should first seek legal counsel.

In order to be successful in re-establishing gun rights to be able to legally buy a gun at a pawn shop, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. Already prevalent are negative perceptions of being:

  • Dishonest
  • Untrustworthy
  • Unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures

Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. You, as a felon, don’t have to be defined by your crime. You can begin again and live an honest life in order to achieve your goals, no matter how difficult they might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of having a pawn shop running a background check for guns? What was that like, and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “Do Pawn Shops Run Background Checks for Guns?”

  1. Excellent blog you have got here.. It’s difficult to find quality writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

  2. I was convicted of felony eluding the police in 2003. I didn’t have a gun 20 years before that. I moved to Oklahoma from Texas where I worked in the oilfield before I had a work related accident which left me total disabled. Foo injured. My mom was at the time 82 and had to have part of her lung removed so I came in January of 2020. Well then march of the same year before mom had recovered the pandemic hit. So I had my work to do for real now. In the time from moving my wife and I from Texas my wife left me in April of 2021 and had seen that the muddy rusty gun safe that had been at my sons house for years had been brought back when the F5 tornado completely destroyed his house in Moore Oklahoma. When I opened it up I found my dead fathers shotgun so my mom wasn’t able to take the gun in and get rid of it so I did thinking I was doing the right thing by get it away from where I now live. That’s what I thought so I’m trying to get back to working and maybe get off SSID and ended up with a great job close to home here and find out that I have a warrant felony possession of a firearms after a felony conviction in 2003. Now I’m going to have to get a lawyer and since I was just trying to make it go away from my house. I’ll probably never be able to get the kind of job that I’m used to doing like Cdl and hazmats and senior supervisor jobs with military clearance and stuff like that

  3. Pawned a glock. Have a couple of misdemeanors and a dismissed felony not involving gun or violence. I paid the pawn shop and they have been running a background check for 3 weeks now. Says its pending and I have called the place running it with same results. What are my options.

  4. Pawned a glock. Have a couple of misdemeanors and a dismissed felony not involving gun or violence. I paid the pawn shop and they have been running a background check for 3 weeks now. Says its pending and I have called the place running it with same results. What are my options.


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