How to Sell a Gun, The Simple and Legal Way

Selling and purchasing guns can be done legally. Even with the existence of federal law, it is pretty simple actually. But still, the big question is "How to Sell a Gun?". There are things that you need to consider as the seller. Remember, you may sell firearms or ammunition to another person in the same state without a license as an individual. However, anyone who sells guns or ammunition to a resident of another state or who buys and trades firearms as a dealer regularly with the purpose to profit must get a Federal Firearms License (FFL). 

You can lawfully sell guns and ammunition in the United States if you obtain an FFL by completing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives application procedure. If you sell ammo, you usually do not need to become a federal firearms licensee. However, your state may need one for any legal sale. Some states require background checks on the individuals prior to purchasing a gun.

The ATF will accept your application if you are a United States citizen over the age of 21, are not barred from acquiring or having guns or ammunition, and have a place to do business. There are few instances in which people are banned from having a gun much more than trading it. Those who are usually banned from owning or having a gun include:

  • persons convicted of crimes punishable in jail for a year or more;
  • those who had a dishonorable discharge from any branch of armed forces; and 
  • those who have restraining orders.

The ineligibility can be overturned if:

  • you file for relief and receive a pardon;
  • expungement of record; or 
  • having a conviction overturned and your rights restored.

How to Sell Guns Online

Selling guns online is a controversial subject. It might be startling for the uninformed masses to learn people are purchasing guns online. However, businesswise, trading weapons online is a brilliant method for manufacturers and retailers to deliver their items to qualified individuals who are often unable to obtain them through their local dealer. 

Putting up a web store for your weaponry may broaden your market and offer an almost overlooked revenue potential. Independent firearms retailers and manufacturers can sell their products online; the process is identical to purchasing a handgun from a traditional gun store. 

The only genuine distinction is the venue of the deal. Since this is unlike your Amazon order, the selling of firearms over the internet follows a highly controlled process. Manufacturers understand the need of adhering to rigorous legislation and requirements when selling weapons on the digital frontier; nonetheless, third-party restrictions can make setting up your online firearm store complicated and have a significant impact on your strategy and business growth. 

It's critical to examine the business model as a whole and weigh your options. You have to weigh your risks, especially if you don't know the mechanism and are concerned that the digital dealings may risk your business or that adding this revenue stream will burden your staff. While establishing an internet website for your weapons manufacturing business takes time and effort, it may help you develop your business and take advantage of certain interesting opportunities. 

Selling Guns According to Federal Law

Persons involved in dealing in guns are required by federal law to be licensed by the ATF. Transacting gun sales without a license is punishable by up to five years in jail, with a possible fine of $250,000. The federal law does not clarify when an FFL is necessary. 

There is no set number or frequency of sales, number of weapons, earnings, or time involved that necessitates license. Rather, assessing how much you are "engaged in the business" of dealing in weapons necessitates examining the precise surrounding circumstances of your actions. In general, if you buy and trade weapons regularly for income, you will require a license.

In contrast, if you simply sell weapons from your collection occasionally, you do not need to be a licensed gun dealer. In any instance, all of your weapons sales are significant, regardless of where they occur; it makes no difference if sales occur in your house, at gun shows, flea markets, online, or otherwise. 

When you will be needing an FFL, you don't need to worry. The license application (ATF Form 7) is simple and may be obtained at the ATF website. In addition to the application, a federal weapons license applicant must supply ATF with a picture, fingerprints, and the license application cost, which is presently set at $200 for the initial three-year term and $90 for each three-year renewal. 

Under federal laws, once you are licensed, you must perform background checks on any non-licensed individual before firearm transfer, with a few exceptions. You must also maintain firearms transaction records to trace guns connected to any crime back to their original buyer. Additionally, you have to ensure that safety locks are included with every handgun and are available in any location.

How to Become a Licensed Firearms Dealer

To become a licensed firearm dealer, you need to secure a Federal-Firearm Licensee (FFL). You can obtain an FFL application by checking the ATF website and downloading a copy or finding your local ATF field office and requesting one. 

It is also possible to download a guidance document issued by the ATF, which is made to answer questions about the FFL permit and help you determine whether your business needs one to legally sell firearms and ammunition in your area. 

Moreover, the ATF asks you to provide a 2 x 2 passport-style image of yourself as well as any individual identified on your application as a "responsible person" participating in your firm. Aside from the photographs, the ATF also conducts a fingerprint background check on you and everyone on your application. Thus you must present fingerprint cards. 

Each fingerprint card should include the individual's entire legal name and signature, as well as a complete description of that individual, including nationality, height, weight, hair color, and eye color. The fingerprint card should also contain basic identifiable details on the individual who was fingerprinted, such as the individual's date of birth, Social Security number, and place of residence. 

You must mail the first copy of your application to the ATF post office box indicated on the application form. Once you have finished, you must acquire the requisite photos and fingerprint cards for each individual mentioned on your application. The proper application fees must present the document you provide to the ATF - $200 if you're requesting a license to sell guns in the retail, pawnshop, or another comparable facility. 

Sales payments can be made through bank account transfers, money order, but not cash. You need to submit the "Copy 3" application to the head office of the state law enforcement of the precinct where your business is situated. 

The applications labeled "Copy 2" and "Copy 4" are for your records. Keep them in a secure location amongst your other company documents. Keep in mind that FFL applications are not transferable. Therefore, if you will alter your company's organizational structure in the future, you must submit a new application. 

When the ATF receives your application, they will place your information into a database and perform electronic background checks on each individual named on the application. When the background checks are concluded, the whole application package will be sent to the ATF field office in your district, where an Industry Operations Investigator (IOI) will interview you. Expect the IOI to ask you business-related questions and to address federal and state laws and regulations governing the sale of firearm, bullets and some gun accessories. 

Following your interview, the IOI will assess whether or not your license should be awarded. If the IOI recommends that your license be awarded, you should get it within 60 days after all background checks and other application processing is completed and that your first license is good for three years.

Closing Private Gun Sales

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), 130,525 active FFLs in 2020. Following the federal gun law, any licensed seller who distributes firearms must first complete a background check. Whether the transaction takes place at a gun store, at a gun expo, or on the side of a rural road, it's needed. However, this only happens if the vendor holds a federal firearms license (FFL). 

Many people run their business from their homes or garages and not the typical gun shop. A stranger, a neighbor, a friend, or a family selling a gun is engaging in private gun sales. It is much easier for criminals to obtain a gun that they can use in the crimes that they commit. 

According to Everytown for Gun Safety research, a pro-regulation group backed by Bloomberg LP founder Michael Bloomberg, 1.2 million advertising for firearms was put on by unlicensed dealers in areas where a background check was not required by state law. More than 10% of people looking to buy a gun on would have been unable to do so unless they went to a federally regulated dealer. 

This year, With President Joe Biden's support, Democrats in Congress are attempting to enact the first substantial gun control legislation in more than two decades. However, the dilemma is what state law should govern the private transaction and firearm transfer, including between friends and extended family. Other states require background checks on all gun sales, but some citizens believe background checks for a sale or transfer between friends would be a step too far. 

While the United States Supreme Court has decided that citizens have constitutional rights to become gun owners, nothing in the Constitution implies that consumers have the right to unrestricted consumer convenience at the expense of public safety. A criminal must not obtain a firearm by buying it from a family or a friend much more than buying it online.

Understand Gun Purchase Laws

If you want to start a business selling and purchase firearms, you should be familiar with gun purchase laws. The "right of the people to keep and bear weapons" is protected under the Second Amendment. 

While state and local governments may control whether citizens can carry a firearm in public, federal gun laws regulate who can obtain and own firearms. For example, the Gun Control Act of 1968 controls firearms at the federal level, requiring citizens and legal residents to be at least 18 years old before they could purchase shotguns or rifles, as well as ammo. In some states a license is required for concealed carry. The concealed carry license is separate from the purchase licence.

Other firearms, such as handguns, can only be bought by persons over the age of 21. State and municipal governments may impose stricter age limits, but they cannot reduce the federal minimum. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Weapons, and Explosives (ATF), a branch of the Department of Justice, is responsible for this and licensing regulations for firearms dealers.

Moreover, The National Firearms Act of 1934 regulates shotguns, rifles, machine guns, firearm mufflers, and silencers. Most states allow the purchase of semi-automatic weapons, such as machine guns and automatic weapons manufactured before 1986. The National Firearms Act still covers these specific types of firearms. 

Handgun permits are required in just a dozen of the 50 states in the United States. Only three of those states, California, Connecticut, and Hawaii, needs valid permit to buy rifles and shotguns.

There are also separate state guidelines on the issuance of concealed handgun permit. States also have different restrictions on handguns and rifles guns. Open carry of long guns is allowed by law in South Carolina. Purchasing specific firearm like a machine gun is closely monitored by the authorities. Admittedly, there is a gun show loophole where the purchase checks are slightly different in gun shows.

Federal Firearms License

Individuals with a Federal Weapons License (FFL) can work in the ammunition or firearms manufacturing industry and trade firearms interstate or intrastate. FFLs are divided into eight categories, with integers ranging from 1 to 11. Individuals holding any of these sorts of licenses can engage in a variety of ammo and firearms-related manufacturing and selling operations, as well as deal with a variety of items. 

A Type 1 FFL, for example, is for gun dealers or gunsmiths who don't deal in "destructive devices." Certain items, such as weapons that need explosives, such as cannons and artillery equipment, as well as armor-piercing bullets, have been classified into a class that requires certain sorts of FFLs—Types 9–11. Pawnbrokers, curio and relic merchants, and producers, dealers, and importers are among the sorts in between. 

The FFL is a one-page document that is frequently watermarked with the ATF official seal. The license number, expiration date, and kind of license are the most visible pieces of information on the page. 

Other components of the paper, such as the licensee's and ATF's contact information, are less visible. Other details regarding what the licensee can do depending on the license and, finally, the licensee's signature on the document. Since these licenses are federal records, public access to their applications is possible under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 

To do so, the requester submits an FOIA Request; this is just a written request in which the requester provides as much detail as necessary information sought and the format in which it should be presented. The ATF also keeps a state-by-state list of all FFL holders on its website.

Selling Long Guns

There has been some conflicting and misleading information on the market concerning selling rifles of different kinds. To begin with, the Gun Control Act of 1968 did not ban the interstate sale of long weapons (rifles and shotguns) provided that the federal government licensed the dealer and the transaction was legal in both the state of purchase and the state residence. 

Furthermore, following this act, a federally licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer, or collector may not sell or deliver any firearm or shotgun, or bullets for rifles or shotguns, to anyone under eighteen. On the other hand, private sales of long or long gun bullets to anybody of any age under federal law are not prohibited. When it comes to selling long firearms, this might be confusing.

Moreover, the amount of weapons a person can acquire in a given period is unrestricted by federal laws. However, because long guns have been the "weapons of choice" of Criminal organizations, the ATF began forcing FFLs in four border states (Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas) to maintain records on repeated transactions of specific semi-automatic rifles in 2011. 

Semi-Automatic rifles with a caliber larger than .22 and the ability to receive a detachable magazine are subject to the reporting requirement. 13 FFLs who are dealers or pawnbrokers must notify the ATF if they have two or more firearm transfers to the same person within five days.

Selling Ammunition

Guns are no more deadly than a blunt instrument without bullets; this is why some experts refer to ammo as the "real agent of damage" in gun crime. Ammunition makes weapons truly deadly, yet ammo sales are not regulated in the same way that firearms are. 

The gun buyer can purchase bullets online or in-store in most states with no restrictions. Background checks for ammo, minimum age legislation, and other reasonable regulations relating to the sale and transfer of ammo are all vital methods to keep lethal weapons from the hands of individuals who endanger others' security, such as those with the restraining order. 

Bullet sales are regulated by legislation, which is supported by the U.S. populace. A January 2013 poll sponsored by Fox News shows that 80 percent of respondents favored state law requiring background checks on ammo buyers. This is because some types of ammo, such as armor-piercing pistol bullets, 50 caliber rounds, and Black Talon bullets, pose a significant risk to the public and police forces and serve no valid sporting purpose. 

State law provide strict regulations on the manufacturing, sale and ownership of certain types of bullets can protect citizens. Because of this, many states have established their state laws on ammo sales. It will be best for you to check the local laws that apply in your area. 

Following Rules of a Private Sell

Suppose a private gun dealer transfers or sells a firearm to another unlicensed individual in the same state. In that case, however, it is allowed as long as the seller believes that the buyer is prohibited by state law in possessing a gun. In most cases, private sales through private gun dealers do not have access to full background checks. 

Under federal standards, FFLs facilitating private sales are entirely optional. However, it is recommended that private sellers who seek assurance that the potential buyer is not prohibited from becoming gun owners transfer the gun privately through an FFL. The FFL will be in charge of conducting a background check on the individual purchasing the firearm. As a result, the FFL will handle all of the paperwork for the original firearm seller. 

If you opt to handle the transactions yourself via private sale, make certain to check the purchaser's identity document to ensure that the individual is a legal resident of your state. The process assures that the gun you sold in a private sale will not be used in any criminal activities. And that the weapon that you sold through private transfers should not become a weapon that will bring terror to the people in your community. 

Filling Up the Gun Transfer Form

When a person intends to acquire a firearm from a Federal-Firearm Licensee (FFL) holder, such as a licensed gun dealer, a six-page gun transfer form specified by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) must be completed. The buyer can download the form from the ATF website. 

The buyer's name, address, date of birth, government-issued identification, NICS background check transaction number, and a short affidavit declaring that the purchaser is qualified to acquire firearms under federal law are all included on the Form 4473. It also includes the firearm's manufacturer, model, and authorization number. Even if the transaction is refused by the NICS, lying on the form is a crime punishable by up to five years in jail, with penalties. 

In the absence of a crime committed with the gun acquired, prosecutions are uncommon. In most jurisdictions, a person who buys a weapon from a private transaction with an individual, not an FFL regulated dealer, is not needed to fill out a Form 4473. Before trading any small weapons (handguns) purchased from private persons in another state, a Form 4473 must be completed. However, private sellers must trade via dealers in certain states, including California, Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, and Washington. 

It is important to remember that as a dealer, you must keep completed forms for 20 years in the event of completed transactions and for five years in the case of denied sales due to a NICS check.

Proof of Sale: Firearms Bill of Sale

In firearm dealership businesses, the Firearms Bill of Sale documents the acquisition of a handgun, rifle, shotgun, or other firearms from a dealer. It denotes that the seller agrees to transfer firearm ownership to the buyer. Thus a Firearm Bill of Sale is utilized to document the transaction and the personal information of both parties. 

Having the proper documentation when selling a gun will protect you if there are any future legal or criminal issues with the weapon you sold. Depending on the state you live in, the forms and processes for trading a gun may differ. You should make sure that you understand the rules in your region before selling any type of firearm. In most jurisdictions, you are not obliged to utilize a Firearm Bill of Sale in private sales. 

Using a Firearm Bill of Sale, on the other hand, protects you by proving that the transaction took place, and the prospective buyers can not claim that the gun was stolen or that they never got it. Furthermore, it can be used as a receipt between two unlicensed persons if you wish to privately trade a gun to a buddy. 


Proposals for gun regulation and gun ownership have been hotly debated in American politics for years. With several state laws related to gun selling and ownership, some are still unsure how the government oversees it all. The fact that you may find many firearms dealers make online sales brings additional terror to some. 

As a business owner, however, you should make sure that you follow the regulations on firearm sales and possession to make sure that everything works legally for your business and society's safety. It is not new to us to hear about gun violence and death where firearms are involved. 

Do not forget to document each transaction that you make so it will be easier for the state police to track those who have used the guns they bought in committing crimes. Everyone should become a responsible gun owner, starting with buying from a legal dealer and following federal.

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