The process of purchasing a firearm online has been a point of discussion in political circles recently. If we believe what the pundits say, it is as easy as ordering a cheeseburger and our brand new bazooka will be on its way to our front door via overnight mail. Well, it doesn’t quite work like that but at the same time it is not an overly complicated undertaking. It is by no means “shady” and millions of people buy online every year. There are very specific legal steps we must follow, but those selling guns in this space are well versed in helping us navigate the channels. There are some spectacular deals to be had online and if you understand the steps required, you can get the deal of a lifetime or even find that rare firearm for which you have been searching. Let’s take a few minutes and look at everything you need to know to buy your first gun online.
The first thing we need to understand is that the gun you order will not be delivered to your doorstep. The Gun Control Act of 1968 prevents firearms from being delivered directly to private parties from a seller. Yes, there was a time as my father reminded me that you could order a rifle from a catalog and have it delivered to your house. Times have changed my friends. The first step is to find a local firearms dealer in your area. This will be a business that has a Federal Firearms License (FFL) that they have secured through the Department of Justice’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms division. Your online purchase will need to be shipped to a shop with a current FFL. Many of the best online firearms sights offer you a list of local shops that are licensed and willing to work with you on an online gun purchase. Be it through drop down menus or actual lists, these companies have done much of the footwork for you. Once you have found a local shop, reach out to them and let them know you will be making an online purchase. Almost all shops charge a “transfer” fee for receiving the gun and managing the paperwork. This is as much a courtesy fee as it is a processing fee. When a gun arrives at a shop there is specific legal documentation that must take place in the shop’s log books. This takes time. In that the shop is not actually selling you the gun, and thus missing out on potential profit, we gladly pay a transfer fee for their time and effort. Make sure you know what the exact fee the shop charges prior to moving forward with your purchase. Fees can range anywhere from $20 to as high as $75 in some cases. If the fee is acceptable, then notify them that you will be making an online purchase and will have the gun sent to their address.
Now it is time to make your purchase. Find your choice of online vendors and find your gun. Take your time and make sure everything in the description is clear and fits what you want. If you are uncertain, you can always contact the seller with questions. Once you have found your gun then it is time to complete your purchase. You will be prompted to provide the name and address of the shop that will be receiving the gun. Fill the info in and then contact your local shop. Give them the provided contact information for the online vendor so they can provide them with a copy of their FFL. Once again, larger and well organized online businesses will be able to do this for you with little more than a click of the mouse. Let your local shop know that you have a gun on the way with an estimated time of arrival. Most shops aren’t keen on a random gun showing up through UPS. Within a short time, your gun will be on its way to the gun shop. Once it arrives they will contact you and you begin the home stretch of getting your gun.
Once you arrive at the shop inspect the gun in detail. Make sure it is as you ordered without any issues. If there are issues, then do not accept the transfer. Trying to remedy issues after a transfer has taken place complicates the process. If everything looks good, then it is time for the paperwork. This is where many anti-gun zealots skirt the truth. In order to take possession of your new gun, you will need to complete an ATF form 4473 and pass a background check through NICS (The National Instant Criminal Background Check System). This is the same form and background check you would complete if you purchased a firearm in any gun store. Buying online in no way circumvents any legal processes. Some disqualifiers for any firearms purchase, be it online or in person are:
Along as you are in good legal standing, you will be cleared for the transfer. Once you pass the background check, you are free to take your firearm home! A personal suggestion is to spend a few minutes in the shop that is doing the transfer to see if they have anything you need. Most shops are small mom and pop businesses and even small sales help keep them open. Buying a gun online offers you convenience and, in many cases, significant savings. These sites can offer a selection of guns that regular retail shops cannot simply because of space. Modern companies have streamlined the process to make the experience enjoyable and simple. So, when it’s time to shop for your next blaster, simply grab yourself a cup of coffee and have a seat at your computer.