Are you one of the many who would like to buy a gun over the internet BUT are worried it is hard, complex, and scary?  Can you get into legal troubles or otherwise be sorry you used Internet commerce to purchase your next firearm?

Legal Restrictions:  Yes, you can purchase firearms and ammunition over the internet, but restrictions do apply.  The exceptions to this are those Americans living in locations which ban certain weapons.  If it is illegal to buy it in your neighborhood, you can not get it online either.  Places like New York state, Illinois state, Chicago and Cook County Illinois, California, Washington D.C., and now Colorado --- have enacted laws which severely restrict gun purchases of many types.  If you are unsure, check with your Secretary of State office, a friendly firearms dealer (who is an FFL holder), an other knowledgeable source about your area.

Simple purchases usually require only that an "FFL" (Federal Firearms License) holder who is licensed by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) register the transaction and perform a background check.  These background checks are done differently in various states but generally confirm your residency, your criminal history, your mental stability, any court actions, and your military history qualify your buying a gun legally.  The check will also records and confirms the gun serial number certifying it is not a stolen gun.

The Process:

  1. Find a local FFL (Federal Firearms License) dealer and arrange for them to provide the seller with a signed copy of their FFL license via email, fax, or postal services when you buy the firearm.  They will be charging you a fee for this service and the ATF paperwork necessary to convey your gun to you. This is usually somewhere in the range of $30-$50. This local FFL dealer will know what is legal under the local firearms laws. They could tell you if your planned purchase is okay in your area.
  2. Contact the seller and make your purchase and payment. Tell the seller you will have your FFL dealer contact them and make arrangements to copy them with the necessary license copy and ship-to information.
  3. Contact your FFL dealer and give them the information about the gun and how to contact your seller (Fax number, email address, postal address, etc) and ask them to proceed.
  4. When your FFL dealer receives the gun from the seller, they will contact you for pick up.  Upon pick up, you will fill out the ATF paperwork called the Form 4473.  There will then be a background check made.  When you are approved and  after any required waiting period in your locale, you will be delivered the gun,.