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Gun Dealers: Can You Use an Expired Driver’s License as Valid ID for Gun Purchases?

During the current COVID-19 pandemic there have been instances when purchasers have presented a driver’s license as their government issued photographic ID that expired during the declared emergency. In these instances, the customer typically cannot renew their driver’s license because their state’s department of motor vehicle (DMV) is not renewing or issuing driver’s licenses during the emergency. However, state officials have publicly declared that these driver’s licenses remain valid until a later date when the state will begin issuing and renewing licenses.

The question has come up whether in this situation the facially expired driver’s license can be accepted by the retailer. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) actually provided relevant guidance on this issue in a June of 2010 ATF Newsletter, stating:

There has also been some confusion over whether an expired driver’s license can satisfy the [Gun Control Act] requirement. If the law of the State that issued the driver’s license provides that a driver’s license is valid after the expiration date, either for a certain period of time or for a certain category of persons, such as military personnel, then the license qualifies as a valid identification document for [Gun Control Act] purposes for that period of time or for that class of persons. This will not be a common occurrence. If you are not certain of the validity of an expired license in your State, we suggest you contact your State’s Department of Motor Vehicles. If you are still uncertain about the validity and acceptance of an expired license for [Gun Control Act] purposes, contact your local ATF office.

Please view ATF guidance here, at page 4.

If you encounter this situation, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) recommends that you make a photocopy of your customer’s driver’s license and the supporting documentation from the state’s DMV website that documents that licenses expiring after the start of the declared emergency remain valid for a period of time (that should always include the date of the sale) and permanently attach them to the Form 4473. The NSSF also recommends that you contact your local ATF office for guidance. If you receive contrary guidance from ATF, please direct the IOI to the June of 2010 ATF Newsletter.

Expired Concealed Carry Permit - Please note, however, that an expired concealed carry permit will not qualify as Brady Alternate for purposes of a transfer, even if the state has said the permit is still valid for concealed carry during the COVID-19 emergency. This is because the Brady Act specifies that the permit must not have been issued more than five years earlier. 18 USC 922(t)(3); 27 CFR § 478.102(d). The customer can still purchase the firearm after a regular background check.

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