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Is There a National Gun Registry?

One question we see a lot is “What’s the deal with the National Gun Registry?”

Question gif Iron Man
Well, today we’re going to answer that one, for once and for all. Or at least until something changes and we have to update this article.

Is There a National Gun Registry?

In short, no.

There is no national registry that links you to a firearm. The FBI, ATF, USPS, NSA, IRS, CIA, or Forest Service can’t just punch your name into a system and see what guns you own. 

Just because you saw it on TV doesn't make it true!
Just because you saw it on TV doesn’t make it true!

There are certain federal databases of guns, however.  The ATF keeps records of stolen guns, and in some cases, guns that are used or suspected to have been used in the commission of a crime, or that are sold by vendors with a history of shoddy record keeping.

They may also track multiple sales, purchases of “large quantities” of firearms, or guns that are recorded as part of an estate sale or otherwise just noticed by law enforcement.

Wonder how many lists John was on...
Wonder how many lists John was on…

So, with a few exceptions there and one we’ll get to later, the federal government doesn’t really have a record of most firearms sales in a way that ties them directly to an owner, and no big list of what guns you own.

What About At the State Level?

The state level is a bit different. While the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 has some prohibitions against the establishment of a national gun registry by federal law enforcement, there are some states that have taken it upon themselves to enact some form of additional registration.

Handguns Must Be Registered

  • New York

New Residents Must Report All Firearms

  • California
  • Maryland

All “Pre-Ban” Assault Weapons Must Be Registered

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York

All Firearms Must Be Registered

  • Washington DC
  • Hawaii

Be sure to check out our state gun laws page for more information on your state.

What About the National Firearms Act?

We’ve talked about the NFA in depth before, so I won’t go everything right here. However, since it’s the closest thing we have to a national gun registry, it’s worth talking about.

The NFA covers all the really fun toys like suppressors, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, and full-auto things.

Full Auto M2 - for when you really, really need fire superiority.
Full Auto M2 – definitely on a list!

These are registered to individuals, and woe is the man or woman caught by the ATF with one of the aforementioned items without the corresponding paperwork.

Parting Shots

So, long story short, there is no national firearms database per se, but that doesn’t mean you and your guns aren’t in the system though.

In general, they’re probably not, unless you live in one of the states above, or they fall under the NFA.

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Best AR-15 & AK Pistol Braces

Do you have any questions about the national firearms registry? What about the NFA? Let us know in the comments! Want a short barreled AR-15 without the tax stamp, check out the Best AR-15 Pistols!

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7 Leave a Reply

  • Bob

    Late comment, Connecticut keeps a registry of all firearms bought or sold by dealers and private sales. If they find that you have guns that are not in their registry, they will force you to register them with the state Gestapo, er, police. In fact, one state police officer was reprimanded for requesting a printed list of every firearm and it's owner in the town he patrolled- he would have got it if a paige working for him had not reported him to the local news.

    May 21, 2021 7:14 pm
  • Jim Dans

    The correct questions is does the ATF know what guns I have or can they find out?

    The answer is: YES

    The ATF cant have a searchable computer database but the gun stores and MFG can and do

    1. If you bought from a FFL or gun store and they went out of business, the ATF has your name, address and guns.

    2.The ATF knows what gun store bought the gun from the MFG

    3. They will go to the gun store and search the computer records for your name, address and guns purchased

    4, If you live in Illinois, all foid purchases are recorded in a database and can be searched by local Police

    November 4, 2019 11:01 am
  • james shannon

    In PA there is a state police database (also referred to as a 'repository') on all HANDGUNS.. now whether you consider this a 'registry' or not is up to you (strangely I have had some very ardent 2A supporters argue with me that this isn't a registry (as if they are in some sort of devil's advocate denial???)
    Anyhow- from any police CLEAN ( Commonwealth Law Enforcement Assistance Network) computer you can sign on to what use dot be a very 'hush hush' special admin screen and put in a name.. it will pull up all handguns owned ('registered') to that person.. Conversely you can enter a handgun's serial # and it will pull up the owners info ( well- the last legal owner's name),
    No warrant or due process is needed to access this database- and even civilian police employees have access to this in many cases.. I know- I was one of them..
    So as 2A friendly as PA is ( shall issue CCW, NFA etc.)… its's not perfect ( and our current governor scares me given the current climate...…..
    It has been around since the 80's.. just never talked about much....

    September 4, 2019 7:02 pm
  • JS

    we have to have all handguns registered in Michigan, every time it changes ownership, you have to turn in paperwork to register with the new owner

    June 13, 2019 10:41 am
  • mrvco

    We don’t need a ban on ‘assault weapons’, we need a ban on animated GIFs.

    June 10, 2019 1:39 pm
    • Eric Hung

      Michael Jackson Popcorn GIF

      June 10, 2019 2:50 pm
    • David, PPT Editor


      June 10, 2019 3:15 pm