Guide to Buying a Firearm Online

Depending on who you ask, buying a gun online is either a shady method used by criminals to obtain firearms illegally or next to impossible. The truth is that it’s neither. Using the Internet to buy a firearm is perfectly legal and, as with any ecommerce venture, requires some caution. Before making an online gun purchase, here are four steps to make the process easier.

Decide How You’re Going to Buy

Image via Flickr by zaphad1

Image via Flickr by zaphad1


There are basically three ways to legally buy a gun online.
First, you can shop with a site owned by a federal firearm license holder. They would complete the required paperwork, including a background check when necessary. Once the sale is complete and approved, they ship the weapon to a firearm dealer near you. This method is fairly straightforward, but can take some time to complete all the paperwork.

The second, and more common way, is to buy the weapon from a trusted online site like Bidgunner and have the weapon sent to a firearm dealer in your area. The local dealer will then handle all required paperwork and make sure that your purchase complies with all local, state, and federal regulations.

Lastly, you can find firearms for sale by private owners. This is probably the most risky way to buy a gun, as you can’t be sure of the history of the weapon. Also, if the owner lives in a different state, there are regulations about the interstate transfer of firearms that you’ll have to follow. Although many states don’t need a background check for private firearm sales, that is changing quickly. States like California and Rhode Island require checks for any firearm sale while other states only require them for handgun purchases.

Know What You Want
Once you’ve decided on a purchase method, do some research to find the right weapon for your needs. You’ll want to compare various brands and features to decide what style is going to work best. Often, popular makers offer several different styles of weapon with only slight variations. A visit to a gun range that allows rentals may help you make a decision.

When browsing weapons online, try widening your search to include other comparable models and makers. Unless you have your heart set on a specific weapon, you might find that a different brand might better fit your needs. After you know what you want, you can move on to the next step.

Research Prices and Accessories
Prices for a specific weapon can vary greatly from one website to another. Although it’s perfectly normal for sites to offer discounts on certain models, if a website offers deals that sound too good to be true, be careful. While most firearm dealers online are legitimate businesspeople, there will always be scammers out there trying to dupe unsuspecting buyers. Some red flags include a website that insists on being paid by Western Union or MoneyGram.

When considering your price range, be sure to add in the cost of any accessories like magazines or scopes that you’ll be needing.

Find a Federal Firearm License Holder in Your Area
Unless you’re purchasing a weapon from a private owner in your state, you’ll need the assistance of a federal firearm license holder close to you. Since shipping a firearm to a private person is illegal, you’ll need to have your weapon sent to the local dealer to complete the transaction. Before shopping, it’s a good idea to find someone in your area that you trust to help you. Especially if this is your first gun purchase, building a relationship with a local firearms dealer is invaluable. They can help you find accessories, ammunition and gun ranges in your area as well as complete the required paperwork for your purchase.

Buying a gun online doesn’t have be complicated, and it’s certainly legal. As with any online purchase, it’s important to buy from a legitimate source that you can trust. Although going through a federal firearm license holder to complete the transaction can seem like a lot of work, it’s really a simple process and allows you to have an expert make sure that your purchase is completely legal and complies with all applicable laws.