Congress may have declined to ban the sale of guns to people on federal terrorism watch lists, but one state — New Jersey — has, at least theoretically, been stopping such purchases since 2013.

It isn’t clear whether New Jersey’s ban has actually stopped a would-be extremist from buying a firearm. But the system could potentially serve as a model for a handful of other states, including New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois and California, where lawmakers have been exploring ways to restrict sales without an act of Congress.

Under a law signed by Gov. Chris Christie, people buying guns or applying for a firearm permit in New Jersey can be blocked as part of the routine criminal history check, conducted through the National Crime Information Center.

In every state, that NCIC review leads to purchases and permits being rejected if it reveals a disqualifying factor under state or federal law. In most states, that means someone who has a felony conviction, is not a U.S. citizen, or is subject to certain court orders.

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