1. Is it legal to sell guns online?
Like any other product, a consumer has the ability to purchase guns, ammunition, Kevlar, parts etc online. Selling guns online seems like a frightening prospect, but in reality it is more secure than most gun transactions. Online gun sites are regulated by the Federal government through mandatory laws that require selling guns online to be administered legitimately.
The most significant law regarding gun purchasing is administered by the federal government. US federal law requires that all guns purchased online must be shipped only to a holder of a Federal Firearms License.
Guns bought online are never shipped to the consumers home, but instead, to a federally licensed gun shop. Selling guns online also requires a FFL-both parties must be licensed appropriately, in order for a transaction to occur. After purchase the online gun retailer will ship the firearm to the local gun dealer, where the consumer will pick it up in person.
At the time of pickup, the gun retailer will treat the transaction like one made in a store. Background checks, additional fees, and waiting periods will be administered according to the state's particular gun laws. There are no shortcuts when buying or selling guns online. All of the appropriate steps are followed in accordance to state laws for a transaction to occur.
Selling guns online streamlines the market and makes finding a buyer effortless. A local gun shop can only cater to residents in a specific radius, while an online seller can lasso all the gun buyers in the country. The advantages that sellers experience benefit buyers as well. The internet connects markets together, transactions are only a click away. In regards to guns, most sellers are now online. A buyer has access to a plethora of makes, styles, and calibers.
The flood of buyers and sellers creates numerous purchasing advantages in respects to gun values online. Selling guns online can take the form of an auction or a straight transaction. During normal transactions, a seller will list all of his guns, and attach a negotiable price to them. Gun values online are considered wholesale, but if a consumer disagrees with the price he or she can contact the dealer to negotiate. Auction sales will pool a group of buyers together for an accessory, and award the item to the highest bidder.
Gun values online are a major reason why the industry has become so popular. On average a transaction will be $100 less then if a consumer were to buy it a local store. For less money the buyer will have to incur opportunity costs such as additional waiting times do to shipping.
Gun values online also are reflected in the availability of the items. Many times local stores will run out of an item and be forced to place it on back order-this rarely happens through online purchases. In addition to selling guns online, an online store will also offer all available accessories, apparel, and gun parts.
These goods can be shipped directly to owns home depending on state and federal laws. Another advantage in regards to gun values online, is that used parts and firearms are also available for purchase. The used gun market online will link a seller to a buyer like EBay or Craigslist would.
Selling guns online gives both buyer and distributor many advantages in regards to time, value, and assortment. Although a scary prospect, the market for guns online is strictly regulated by the federal government, and all transactions must comply with state gun control laws.
2. Who needs a Federal license to deal in firearms?
Under federal law, any person who engages in the business of dealing in firearms
must be licensed.
3. What does it mean to be “engaged in the business of dealing in firearms”?
Under federal law, a person engaged in the business of dealing in firearms is a person who “devotes time, attention and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms.”
Under federal law, conducting business “with the principal objective of livelihood and profit” means that “the intent underlying the sale or disposition of firearms is predominantly one of obtaining livelihood and pecuniary gain, as opposed to other intents, such as improving or liquidating a personal firearms collection.”
Consistent with this approach, federal law explicitly exempts persons “who make occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms.”
4. Has ATF defined what it means to be “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms?
ATF has published regulatory definitions for the terms “engaged in the business” and “principal objective of livelihood and profit.” ATF’s regulation defining when a person is “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms is identical to the language of the statute, though in the definition of “dealer,” ATF clarified that the term includes “any person who engages in such business or occupation on a part-time basis.”
5. What if I only sell firearms at flea markets, gun shows or over the internet?
A person can be engaged in the business of dealing in firearms regardless of the location in which firearm transactions are conducted. A person can be engaged in the business of dealing in firearms even if the person only conducts firearm transactions from a location other than a traditional brick and mortar store.
Many licensed gun dealers conduct business at temporary locations such as qualified gun shows or events, and utilize the internet to facilitate firearm transactions. The question under federal law is not where firearm transactions are conducted, but rather is whether — under a totality of the circumstances — the person conducting those transactions is engaged in the business of dealing in firearms. The factors listed below apply to that determination regardless of where the firearm transactions occur.
The growth of new communications technologies and e-commerce allows sellers of firearms to advertise to an expansive market at minimal cost, and complete sales with minimal effort. While a collector or hobbyist may use the internet and other communication technology to sell a firearm without a license (provided that they comply with all other federal and state laws and regulations), those engaged in the business of dealing in firearms who utilize the internet or other technologies must obtain a license, just as a traditional dealer whose business is run out of a traditional brick and mortar store.
6. How do I become licensed?
The license application (called the ATF Form 7) is straightforward and can be found here:
In addition to the application itself, an applicant for a federal firearms license must also provide to ATF a photograph, fingerprints, and the license application fee, currently set at $200 for the initial three-year period, and $90 for each three-year renewal.
7. What standards does ATF use to determine whether to give me a license?
ATF will approve an application for a federal firearms license if the applicant:
-Is 21 years of age or older;
-Is not prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition;
-Has not willfully violated the GCA or its regulations;
-Has not willfully failed to disclose material information or willfully made false statements concerning material facts in connection with his application;
-Has a premises for conducting business; and
-The applicant certifies that:
the business to be conducted under the license is not prohibited by State or local law in the place where the licensed premises is located;
within 30 days after the application is approved the business will comply with the requirements of State and local law applicable to the conduct of the business;
the business will not be conducted under the license until the requirements of State and local law applicable to the business have been met;
the applicant has sent or delivered a form to the chief law enforcement officer where the premises is located notifying the officer that the applicant intends to apply for a license; and
secure gun storage or safety devices will be available at any place in which firearms are sold under the license to persons who are not licensees.
8. What obligations will I have once I become licensed?
Licensed firearms dealers are subject to certain requirements under federal law, including running background checks on any non-licensed person prior to transferring a firearm (subject to narrow exceptions), keeping firearms transaction records so that crime guns can be traced to their first retail purchaser, and ensuring safety locks are provided with every handgun, and available in any location where firearms are sold.
Licensees are also prohibited by law from knowingly transferring handguns to persons who do not reside in the State where the licensee’s premises are located, and from knowingly transferring any firearm to underage persons and certain categories of “prohibited persons,” including felons, persons who were involuntarily committed to mental institutions, and illegal aliens.
Under federal law, licensees are subject to inspection and are also required to respond to requests for firearms tracing information within 24 hours.
9. What if I don’t need to be licensed, but I want to make sure a background check is run on a potential purchaser of my gun?
Private, unlicensed sellers can help ensure that potential purchasers are not prohibited from possessing firearms by using a licensed dealer to facilitate the sale and transfer of a firearm. For a small fee, many licensed dealers will facilitate a sale of a firearm between two unlicensed individuals. This service provides both customers and the community assurance that individuals who want to purchase firearms undergo a comprehensive background check which helps to ensure the buyer is not prohibited from possessing a firearm, and can improve the ability of law enforcement to trace firearms if they are later recovered in a connection with a crime. In 2013, ATF published an open letter (https://www.atf.gov/file/56331/download) to licensed dealers educating them on how to facilitate private sales, and published ATF Procedure 2013 – 1 (https://www.atf.gov/file/88181/download), which provides further guidance. The decision to facilitate private sales is wholly voluntary on the part of the licensed dealer.
Additional information can be found at www.atf.gov.