Buy Guns Online – A Newbie’s Guide to the Entire Process
Brady Kirkpatrick 08.30.21
You’d be surprised to hear how easy it is to buy guns online. Make no mistake, it’s perfectly legal under federal law to buy guns online, but some states have different regulations. Moreover, there has been a spike in online firearm sales as the firearms market has been booming. Almost 17 million firearms were purchased in 2020 alone, according to the estimates of firearms analytics companies.
From 1986 to 2008, the number of guns manufactured annually has been relatively stable, at about 3 million. However, from 2009 to 2018, that number skyrocketed to a staggering annual average of 8.4 million firearms per year, with a peak of 11.5 million in 2016. Despite the pandemic making things more difficult, not to mention the political shift and how it affects the firearms market climate, you still shouldn’t worry about whether or not you’ll find your desired firearm in stock.
So, if you want to purchase a handgun, rifle, shotgun, or some ammo, we’re going to cover all the essential steps for you to do that online.
Federal Requirements to Buy Guns Online
Make Sure You’re Eligible to Purchase Firearms
Before you head straight to your local gun shop or the Palmetto State Armory website, you must make sure that you’re not a “prohibited person” if you want to buy a gun. A prohibited person means anyone that has been convicted of at least one misdemeanor, so naturally, felons, fugitives, and illegal aliens also fit the bill. Additionally, people that are deemed mentally unstable, as well as those that have renounced their U.S. citizenship, among others, won’t be able to purchase a firearm.
FFL and Necessary Background Check Procedures
Ever heard about the FFL?
First things first: you must ship the firearm to a local gun store or FFL (Federal Firearm Licensee) to fulfill the standard background check procedures. You’ll need to make sure that the local FFL is willing to make the transfer.
Arranging the Firearms Transfer
Once you’re sure that the FFL wants to approve your firearm, go right ahead and let them know that you want to purchase it and that you’ll ship the firearm to them. Just give your contact info, and they’ll get in touch with you once the gun arrives. The FFL will either give you a copy of the license or they’ll give the copy of the FFL to the gun store from where you bought the firearm. In any case, expect the online retailer to already have a copy of your FFL’s license at the ready.
Purchasing the Firearm
When you’ve reached the check-out stage of purchasing your gun, you still need to confirm that the store has a copy of the FFL to where they’ll ship your product. Make sure that you inform the FFL of your purchase so they’d know when it’s arriving. When you’re at the gun store, it’s very important that you follow safety procedures. Always make sure that the gun is unloaded, the safety is on, and never point the gun at anyone.
Pro tip: If you’re going to the gun store to repair your gun, ask the clerk if it’s alright to take out the gun and present it. It’s an overlooked but very important gun etiquette.
Most Popular Firearms Retailers
Usually, when you buy guns online, you look for all kinds of retailers and websites. Some popular options are:
- Palmetto State Armory
- Guns.com (a good one for used guns as well)
- Primary Arms
However, these aren’t your only options. There are many well-stocked retailers with helpful staff and great service you can find on the internet today.
Once you’re sure you want to buy a specific gun and you’ve read all its specifications, buy it and arrange shipping to an FFL. The FFL usually charges a fee for their services, and they’ll transfer the gun to you in person via the FFL Transfer System if everything is in order. That means filling out a special form.
The ATF Form 4473
You first need to fill out the Form 4473 from ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) with your personal (identity) information. If all background check requirements are satisfactory for the federal National Instant Criminal Check System (NICS) that’s run by the FBI, the transfer will be completed. You must answer the questions truthfully because the FFL or the gun dealer will submit your form to the FBI where they’ll do a background check, while some dealers can also do a background check on the spot.
How fast your firearm arrives depends on how fast the FBI approves your form.
30 Days to Finalize the Purchase
After your ATF 4473 Form has been approved, you’ll have 30 days to complete your purchase. If you fail to do so, you’ll need to go through the procedure again. This goes for every new gun you purchase. These requirements vary from state to state, and in states like California, there are extra steps and processes that must be completed. Other states allow you to obtain and own a Concealed Weapons Permit, which may be enough to let you purchase a firearm online, or accept past, unique background checks as still valid for firearm purchasing, so always check your local laws.
The Final Step – Picking Up Your Purchase
Finally, your desired gun has arrived at your gun shop, and you’re ready to pick it up. Bring your ID and you’re all set.
Yes, it’s pretty easy to buy guns online. Apparently, Christmas does come early when you’re purchasing firearms. Just make sure you stick to the FFL procedures, and everything will be fine. If you already have some ammo lying around, head straight for the ranges and practice your shooting, but remember to always practice good etiquette and safety procedures.
Stay safe and shoot straight!