Brady Act Instant Background Check Is Not Applicable to Antique Firearms

GAO-01-538RNI: Published: Mar 16, 2001. Publicly Released: Mar 16, 2001.

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Donald G. Fulwider
(202) 512-7413


Office of Public Affairs
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The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 requires instant background checks for prospective purchasers of firearms that were manufactured after 1898, i.e., firearms that are not considered antiques. Antique firearms, which include weapons manufactured before 1899, are not subject to National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks. During an undercover operation, members of GAO's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) were able to buy various firearms that were made before 1899 and that are, therefore, exempt from the NICS check. Although some of the antique firearms were offered as collectibles, with some priced in the thousands of dollars, many were priced between $100 and $300. OSI paid $100 for an antique Spanish-manufactured 5-shot revolver. After the purchase, OSI test-fired the revolver and found it to be operable and in good condition.

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