When thinking of purchasing a firearm, buying online did not immediately spring to mind. And when it did I was initially daunted at the thought. However my fears were greatly misplaced!
The range, competitiveness of price and convenience is delightful. While they may not be delivered to your doorstep, it is a simple process. This guide will be a step-by-step explanation of how to order a firearm online.
Deciding on a Firearm
The first step is deciding what type of firearm is best for your needs while keeping in mind federal, state and local laws.
Under federal law, you are legally able to buy long guns (rifles and shotguns) and ammunition for long guns only if you are over the age of 18. For handguns and handgun ammunition, the legal age of purchase is 21. Minimum age may vary in state law however, so it pays to check.
Smartgunlaws.org is a wonderful page to find what laws apply to your state. From the home page, I can access gun laws by policy area, the second amendment, federal and state law. It describes laws on many areas such as open-carrying and minimum age. The site also allows me to check if I am required to obtain a permit to purchase a firearm.
The Shooter’s Log has some great information on budget, types of guns and caliber. The Well Armed Woman also has detailed content aimed at informing women without employing any limiting stereotypes.
New or Used?
The second step is to decide whether you want to buy a new or used firearm.
With a limited budget, I would consider buying a used firearm as they usually at discounted prices with a lifetime warranty. Armslist, as the name suggests, is the Craigslist of firearms, hosting classified ads for thousands of different guns. You can filter your search by state, firearm type, manufacturer, caliber or action type making it an easy task finding what you want.
If Armslist is the Craigslist of firearms, then Gunbroker.com is the eBay. It lists hundreds of thousands of online auctions. Not only are the odds in my favour finding what I want, they are also in my favour to find a bargain!
When it comes to buying second-hand items I always look for safeguards when making a purchase. Armslist is not involved with transactions between the buyer and seller, so there is little protection for either party. Gunbroker.com on the other hand, does have a fraud claim process.
So I’ve decided that buying a used firearm is not for me. Where do I go now? There are a multitude of online gun stores to choose from.
Online shops have a wonderful selection of firearms, and like Armslist and Gunbroker.com, they also have easy-to-use search tools. They also come with lifetime warranties to give peace of mind to buyers.
How to Order a Firearm Online Through a FFL Dealer
According to the federal Gun Control Act (GCA), anyone who engages in the business of dealing in firearms is required to obtain a Federal Firearms Licence (FFL). This means any online seller I buy from with a FFL is unable to ship a firearm directly to me. They must instead ship it to my local FFL dealer who will perform a background check before I can receive my gun.
Image Via Flickr CC: US Coast Guard Academy
It is my responsibility to set up this transfer and provide the FFL dealer’s details to the seller upon purchase. Finding my closest dealer is so simple, I went to FFL Dealer Locator, put in my zip code and a list of dealers nearby appeared before my eyes!
To set up the transfer, I call my FFL dealer and tell them I would like to receive a transfer from whichever seller I am buying from. Ask about the transfer fee as it varies, but is usually around $2515.
Some sellers on both auction sites and classified ad hosting sites are FFL holders, so if I bought from them I would have to go through the same process. However, some sellers are private and do not legally have to ship to an FFL (unless it is over state lines, or required by state laws) and can ship my purchase directly to me.
Purchasing Your Firearm
When buying a used gun on a firearms auction site (Gunbroker.com), I would need to register as a user before making a purchase. After registering, I could either put in a competitive bid, or pay the ‘Buy Now’ price for a guaranteed win. The seller would then contact me within five days with payment instructions and a request for shipping details.
If it is through a classified ad hosting website like Armslist, transactions are held only between the buyer and the seller. It will be an agreement between us on how the payment is made, the gun received etc. and the site acting as the intermediary is absolved of all responsibility.
Online shops have a simple checkout system with a range of payment options. As with auction sites, I have to register for an account before purchasing. Simply ‘Add to Cart’, ‘Proceed to Checkout’, entering whichever details I wish to pay with.
*Remember to add your FFL dealer details if required.
I am now ready to pick up my firearm. For a private non-FFL purchase, I will have either received it in the mail, or met with the buyer in an agreed location. For a FFL purchase, I would go to my FFL dealer, undergone a background check and inspected the firearm thoroughly.
Once both parties are satisfied, voila! I have a new gun and new peace of mind.