I hear in some places, you need one form of ID to buy a gun, but two to pay for it by check. It's interesting who has what incentives to care about what mistakes.

This XKCD comic strip has the following alt text:

I hear in some places, you need one form of ID to buy a gun, but two to pay for it by check. It's interesting who has what incentives to care about what mistakes.

Is there really any place like that?

  • 1
    Not really notable: any other examples of this claim?
    – Sklivvz
    Nov 1, 2011 at 20:36
  • 5
    XKCD? Not really notable? are you serious?
    – DavRob60
    Nov 1, 2011 at 21:49
  • 7
    it's a punchline, not a claim. XKCD is notable, the claim is not.
    – Sklivvz
    Nov 1, 2011 at 21:55
  • 11
    The way I read it, the author of the comic IS claiming this is true, and it will certainly be read by many people. I think it passes notability.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 2, 2011 at 2:55
  • 3
    The thing is that the number of IDs needed to pay with a check is entirely in the gift of the vendor unless and until the state steps in (in the case of Oddthinking's California link to prevent the vender from asking for two). Indeed the fact that a state found that a reasonable thing to do suggests that a non-trivial number of retail outlets do want more than one form of ID for a check. Finding one that also sells guns is left as an exercise. Nov 2, 2011 at 22:50

2 Answers 2


It may be laborious, but the only way to disprove this is to list the 50 states (I assumed this is limited in scope to the USA.) and show that in none of them is it true.

Help me out. Pick one, research and edit.

Of course, during this exercise, we may find that there is a place where it IS true. Either way, question answered.

States marked with a * are full participants in NICS, and require FBI approval for purchases. The official form Firearms Transaction Record Part I Over-the-Counter requires a "valid government-issued photo identification" (such as driver's licences) with the current address OR a "valid government-issued photo identification" with a second piece of identification showing the current address. The relevant sections of the form are 20a and 20b. If cheques require more than that in any of those states, we have a winner.

  • Alabama *
  • Alaska *
  • Arizona *
  • Arkansas *
  • California - No. Can only demand one id for check - via @DVK
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware *
  • Florida
  • Georgia *
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho - May fit the criteria. Need to find a merchant that sells firearms and requires two ID's to pay by check.
    • "There is no state permit required for the purchase of any rifle, shotgun, or handgun." idaho.gov The number of ID required to purchase a gun is dependent on other sources' requirements (e.g. ATF).
    • The issue of paying by check seems left entirely to the merchant accepting the check as payment. Idaho law seems to not address the issue. Laws regarding merchant acceptance of checks revolve only around what information is stored, not shows of ID.
  • Illinois - Requires a Firearm Owner's ID to purchase a firearm, and application for this apparently only requires a single ID (driver's license OR state-issued ID)
  • Indiana *
  • Iowa
  • Kansas * - Appears to have no specific requirements for ID for gun purchase. The only restriction is against selling guns to minors, so presumably a gun store clerk may check an ID to verify age, but there is no requirement to check 2 IDs.
  • Kentucky *
  • Louisiana *
  • Maine *
  • Maryland *
  • Massachusetts - No. Can only demand one id for check
  • Michigan - This might fit the criteria of the claim; additional research necessary
    • Requires at most a single state-issued ID to obtain a firearm license (p. 9 of PDF--28.422(3)(c)), and a firearm license isn't even necessary for certain types of firearms.
    • It is unclear whether a gun store clerk may request the firearm license in addition to another form of ID at time of purchase.
    • Seems to have no law limiting the number of IDs used for check acceptance, only which information can be recorded from the IDs.
  • Minnesota *
  • Mississippi *
  • Missouri *
  • Montana *
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico *
  • New York *
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota *
  • Ohio *
  • Oklahoma *
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania - Only one form of ID is required to purchase a handgun. For "long guns" (rifles, shotguns, etc.) sold in a private transaction, neither ID nor a license is required. It is still unclear whether the seller can require two forms of ID for a check. Via @ESultanik
  • Rhode Island *
  • South Carolina *
  • South Dakota *
  • Tennessee
  • Texas *
  • Utah
  • Vermont *
  • Virginia - No. Two IDs required for gun
  • Washington
  • West Virginia *
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming *
  • Washington DC *
  • Other than the CA reference... can anyone even point one in the right direction in terms of where to look? My google-fu is coming up empty handed for MN. Should we be looking in state legislature, some type of business regulation documents, or something else?
    – Hendy
    Nov 2, 2011 at 3:35
  • as gun purchase procedures are seemingly identical or close to in most states, you should start looking at the differences between states in the requirements to issue personal checks in payment (and not necessarily for guns), which may differ between locale and even bank and acceptant. Of course those will need to require more different IDs than just the gun purchase, else the IDs needed for that can double to identify the buyer for the purpose of validating the check.
    – jwenting
    Nov 2, 2011 at 8:01
  • @jwenting, Yes, for the states with a *, the focus is now on how much id is requested for a check. Some (possibly all? To be seen.) of the states, it seems, have privacy laws that protect people from being asked for too much ID. Asking for one id (e.g. gun license) for the purchase and another (e.g. driver's license) for the check counts, I think, as one each.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 2, 2011 at 8:06
  • 2
    Isn't this approach flawed, in that selling guns is regulated and the vendor is required to ask for ID, but accepting cheques is not regulated and it's more of a corporate policy about how much ID is required to pay by cheque? I.E. this depends on the individual stores in any state/jurisdiction that requires only one form of ID to buy a gun Nov 2, 2011 at 13:16
  • 2
    @Mr.ShinyandNew安宇: Agreed. This approach only works if every state forbids asking for two forms of ID for checks, which may not be the case, in which case this answer will be inconclusive. The counter case would be to find just one shop with a policy of selling guns with one piece of ID for a cash sale and two forms for check sales.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 2, 2011 at 13:25

As explained in It's Getting Harder to Cash a Check Kiplinger's Personal Finance Vol. 27, October 1973:

Many places of business require at least two forms of identification and your phone number before cashing or accepting your check in person

This is what the OP claim means by "two to pay for it by check". It is not any government requirement, but many businesses, at a time when it was more common to pay by personal check, had this requirement.

For more recent references see: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins' Administrative Medical Assisting, Volume 1

If a new patient is paying by check, get two forms of identification.

Public Health Leadership and Management: Cases and Context:

Visa, Mastercard, cash, and personal check (with two forms of identification) were accepted.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .