How to Buy a Gun Online
We’re going to tackle one of the most common questions we are asked: “How do I buy a gun online?”
Before we talk about how to buy a firearm online, let’s first explore a more important question first:
Q: Can you buy a gun online (legally)?
A: Yes! We’ll show you how…
Federal law has some requirements on how firearms are purchased.
These firearm purchase rules differ from state to state (some states have extra firearm purchase requirements) and whether the purchase is from a gun store/dealer or a private party transaction.
If you’re buying a gun online, you’re going to have the firearm shipped to a gun store/Federal Firearm License (FFL) for them to transfer it to you in person. Therefore, we’re not going to cover private-party sales here.
When buying a gun from an FFL, you’ll need to have the firearm “transferred” to you.
A transfer occurs by you filling out an ATF form, called the Form 4473, and satisfying the background check requirements.
According to RocketFFL.com,
The Form 4473 requires information about the identity of the purchaser and their current residential information. This not only provides a method for law enforcement to contact/find the purchaser if needed but it also confirms the purchaser’s state of residency.
For handgun purchases, the purchaser must be a resident of the state where the FFL is located. For long gun (rifle and shotgun) purchases, however, an out-of-state resident may purchase a rifle or a shotgun in any state as long as it is legal in both the state of purchase and the purchaser’s home-state.
The 4473 then asks a series of yes/no questions to determine whether the purchaser is a prohibited person and requires that the purchaser signs the form to confirm the accuracy of the information.
Upon completing the Form 4473, you must satisfy the background check requirements.
Typically, this means that the FFL will conduct a federal background check on you through the federal National Instant Criminal Check System (NICS).
However, some states have some different requirements. For example, some states have extra forms/processes that must be followed (we’re looking at you, California), some states use their own background check system, and some states allow for the possession of a valid Concealed Weapons Permit to satisfy the background check requirements.
To learn more about federal vs state background checks for firearms and which states allow CCWs, check out this article: Federal Background Checks for Firearms
Steps to Buying A Gun Online
So, you’re ready for an online firearm purchase? Awesome!
Here are the steps to buying guns online:
- Find an FFL
- Arrange the Firearm Transfer
- Purchase the Gun Online
- Coordinate the Firearm Transfer
- Pick up Your Online Gun Purchase
The first step to purchasing a gun online is finding a willing FFL!
Trust us, we know that you just got done reading one of our gun reviews and can’t wait to buy your gun online, but it’ll help if you already know where you’re going to have the gun sent.
You need to confirm that the local FFL is willing to accept transfers shipped in to you. Some FFLs don’t like this because they see online gun sales as competition.
However, most FFLs also charge a fee for their time and service. So, they should see it as extra money that they may not have had otherwise, but some don’t.
Because of potential issues of finding a willing FFL (usually very easy) and the chance that the FFL may charge too high fo a transfer fee, many people are getting their own FFLs so that guns can be shipped straight to them and they don’t need to rely on another FFL. If you get your FFL at home, you can have the gun shipped straight to your house.
You can buy the firearm online first, but it’ll help during the checkout process to know where to ship the online firearm purchase.
Once you’ve confirmed that the FFL is willing to accept the online firearm for transfer to you and you are ok with the fees, you should arrange the transfer.
This is done by simply letting the FFL know that you plan to purchase a gun online and have it shipped to them. Give them your contact information so that they know how to get a hold of you once the gun comes in.
Often, they’ll give you a copy of their FFL to use. However, sometimes, they will want to give the copy of their FFL directly to the online gun store.
Even better, online gun sales are so common that the online firearm retailer might already have a copy of your local FFL’s license.
After you’ve researched the gun you’re looking to purchase online, purchase the firearm and arrange for it to be shipped to the FFL you chose.
We recommend only dealing with reputable online firearm retailers.
Some our favorites are:
During the online checkout process, or sometimes shortly after via email, you’ll need to confirm that the store that you bought the gun from has a copy of the FFL to where they’ll be shipping your firearm.
Also, let the local FFL know which gun you purchased and from where so that they know to keep an eye out for it and give you a call once it arrives.
The gun that you purchased online arrived at your local gun store!
It’s time to go to the gun store and have it transferred to you.
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