|Health Factors:||Community Safety|
|Decision Makers:||Local Government State Government Federal Government|
|Population Reach:||100% of WI's population|
|Impact on Disparities:|
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Federal law requires licensed firearm dealers to conduct background checks of potential handgun purchasers’ criminal histories via the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) which includes fugitive status, court restraining orders, and some information regarding severe mental illness. States can also require unlicensed dealers (i.e., private sellers) to perform background checks and keep records of firearm sales via universal background checks. Universal checks are often adopted with other efforts to strengthen background checks such as expansions to other types of firearms, additional qualification criteria, and regulations that require licenses to purchase or own firearms (LCPGV).
There is some evidence that universal firearm background check laws reduce firearm homicide and suicide (Santaella-Tenorio 2016). On average, states with universal background check laws have lower firearm homicide (Fleegler 2013) and suicide rates than states without such laws (Fleegler 2013, Anestis 2015b). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.
As of October 2015, thirteen states require universal background checks for all types of firearm sales and six states (Iowa, Michigan, Maryland, North Carolina, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania) require universal checks for handguns only (USA Firearm Training).
Most states prevent local governments from enacting gun laws via state preemption legislation (Grassroots Change); as of 2015, only seven states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York) allow local governments to enact gun laws.
Wisconsin does not require universal background checks (LCPGV).
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