The FFL Firearms Transfer Process
*** You are responsible for knowing your local laws before buying. Many states apply restrictions beyond federal law. These restrictions can include, but are not limited to, type of firearm you may possess, magazine capacity and flash hiders to name a few. DO YOUR RESEARCH – Stay safe, stay legal!
Why must you ship through an FFL?
By law, and with few exceptions, firearms sales can only be done through an FFL. They can’t be ordered online and shipped to your house or business. The law requires that firearms be transferred through a federally licensed dealer and that certain procedures be followed including proper paperwork and background checks. Therefore all online sales must be done through an FFL.
Background/NICS checks aren’t optional. Unless I’m transferring to another FFL, I am MANDATED to execute a background check through NICS. This must be done at the TIME OF TRANSFER… not before and not after.
Buying from a local gun store also uses the same procedures as local gun stores must also be licensed FFL’s. Listed below are the different types of firearms transfers and steps involved with each.
Online Purchases (Licensed-FFL)
With this type of transaction there usually are two FFLs involved, called a dealer to dealer or FFL to FFL transfer.
- The person buying must locate a local FFL so the FFL-Dealer selling the firearm knows who to exchange license information with. The two FFL’s must exchange license information BEFORE any shipment is made or the shipment MUST be rejected. Your local dealer should send a signed copy of their FFL license to email@example.com
- The selling FFL will document the transaction as will the receiving FFL using a specific process and logbook. The information must include the specifics about the firearms being transferred including serial number, make and model.
- When the buyer is ready to pick up the firearm (transfer from the local FFL to the person buying) the local FFL BY LAW must complete a National Instant Criminal background check (NICS) on the purchaser, the ATF will respond with a “Proceed, Denied or Delayed” action. All responses are documented. A “Proceed” response MUST BE RECEIVED for the transfer to proceed. The background check must be done at the FFL’s business location and must be done ‘AT THE TIME OF TRANSFER’, meaning it can’t be done before, or after the transfer.
- A “Denied or Delayed” response requires the FFL to retain the firearm and wait for further instructions from the NICS agent.
*** When purchasing from our store, please have an FFL in mind that you want to use. Any firearm purchases you ship to the FFL of your choice, this includes serialized parts such as receivers. All other store items and accessories will drop ship to you directly.
Face to Face Purchase (Licensed-FFL)
Usually takes place in a brick and mortar gun store or gun show, where a walk-in customer purchases a firearm and take possession, there is no shipping involved.
- At the TIME OF TRANSFER, the selling FFL will have the purchaser complete a ATF 4473 “Firearms Transaction Record Part 1 – Over-The-Counter” form, again listing the firearm details, serial number, caliber, etc…
- At the TIME OF TRANSFER, the selling FFL will run a National Instant Background Check (NICS) on the purchaser, the ATF will respond with a “Proceed, Denied or Delayed” action, and note the ATF agents name and transaction number on the form and in the A&D book.
- If the response is “Proceed” the transaction is complete.
- A “Denied or Delayed” response requires the FFL to retain the firearm and wait for further instructions.
Buying a gun for someone who is prohibited by law from possessing one or for someone who does not want his or her name associated with the transaction is a “Straw Purchase”
- An illegal firearm purchase (straw purchase) is a federal crime.
- An illegal firearm purchase can bring a felony conviction sentence of ten years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.
- Buying a gun for someone who can’t, can cost you your good name and land you in big trouble.
Never buy a gun for someone who can’t lawfully buy it themselves. Click here for more information on national campaign to prevent the illegal straw purchase of firearms.
ATF Firearms Forms and Links
The ATF uses a specific group of forms to handle firearms transactions, the most common forms are listed below, click on the form to get more information and PDF files from the ATF website:
- (ATF 5300.9) 4473 Part 1 – “Firearms Transaction Over-The-Counter”
- (ATF 5320.1) Form 1 – “Application to Make and Resister a Firearm”
- (ATF 5320.2) Form 2 – “Notice of Firearms Manufactured or Imported”
- (ATF 5320.3) Form 3 – “Application for Tax-Exempt Transfer of Firearm and Registration to SOT”
- (ATF 5320.4) Form 4 – “Applications for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm”
- (ATF 3310.12) “Report of Multiple Sale or Disposition of Certain Rifles”
- (ATF 3310.3) “Report of Multiple Sale or Disposition of Pistols and Revolvers”