The Firearm Inquiry Statistics (FIST) program collects information on firearm applications and denials and combines this information with the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) transaction data to produce an estimated number of background checks for firearm transfers or permits since the effective date of the Brady Act in 1994. Reports describe trends in background check activities and the number of firearm transaction applications processed by the FBI and by state and local agencies, the number of applications denied, reasons for denial, and estimates of applications by jurisdiction and by each type of approval system.
The Firearm Inquiry Statistics (FIST) program collects data from state agencies that conduct background checks or compile data from local checking agencies, local agencies that conduct background checks or track applications but do not report to a state agency, and the FBI.
The FBI provided data in 2019 and 2020 for 30 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories that rely exclusively on the FBI to conduct NICS checks for handgun and long gun transfers. The FBI also provided data for the seven states that rely on it to conduct background checks on long gun transfers only. BJS surveyed the 33 state agencies and the District of Columbia Police Department that conducted background checks required by law or compiled data for their entire jurisdiction. BJS administered the FIST survey to a sample of local checking agencies in three states for both 2019 and 2020 reference years. BJS administered the survey to all local checking agencies in 10 states for 2019 data and 9 states for 2020 data.
The overall response rate was 76% for the 2019 portion of the collection and 78% for the 2020 portion.