To buy a firearm from a federally licensed dealer the buyer is required to provide evidence of identity so the dealer can establish that the buyer is the person shown on the ID.  The buyer must also check a box on the Form 4473 identifying his or her sex.  There are two choices, male and female.  According to the alcohol, tobacco and firearms folks, the buyer would need to properly identify him or herself so that the dealer could run the buyer’s name and sex through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to determine if there is something in the FBI’s database that might disqualify the buyer.

Many states recognize that there are more than two acceptable genders and are issuing official identification, such as drivers licenses, that are non-binary.  A non-binary license allows the driver to select the gender identity of “X” which is a term to encompass genders that are not exclusively male or female.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has advised its licensed firearm dealers throughout the country that they are permitted to accept a state issued non-binary license to identify the buyer of a firearm.  In the same question and answer session, the ATF was asked what would be the effect of a buyer, ostensibly someone who identifies as intersex, who refuses to identify as male or female, on question 6, Form 4473.

The response of the ATF was that the dealer would not be permitted to complete the sales transaction because the NICS database would be unable to accurately identify the buyer by gender.  In other words, all entries in the NICS database are coded by male and female.  It is not likely this will change soon.

If you have questions about gun laws, contact Jim Astrachan at (410) 783-3550 or

ATF: Gun Dealers Cannot Transfer Firearms to Genderqueers Who Fail to Check ‘Male’ or ‘Female’ on 4473s