Can I Buy a Gun Out of State?

Can I Buy a Gun Out of State?

What You Should Consider When Buying a Gun Out of State

As a Federal Firearms LIsencee, I am often asked, “Can I Buy a Gun Out of State?”. It’s a question that requires an understanding of federal and state laws and the regulations imposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). In this blog post, we will illustrate examples of whether individuals can buy a gun out of state, the considerations, and the factors to consider.

The first thing we want to make clear, this post is in no way legal advice. If you have a situation you are unsure of, please contact a professional in your city/state. Gun laws change continuously, and this post aims to help you identify possible scenarios and formulate an action plan to ensure you have some direction on where to get the information you need.

So, let’s dive in.

Understanding Federal and State Laws

Gun buying laws

Navigating federal and state laws is crucial when buying a gun out of state. Regarding state laws, your “state” government website is a good resource; the NRA also has a state-by-state gun laws section on its website.

Your first step in the process is understanding your area’s laws.

The primary federal law that governs firearm transfers is the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), which establishes the legal framework for interstate firearm sales. However, individual states have the authority to impose additional restrictions, so it is essential to be aware of both federal and state regulations.

The Firearm Purchasing Process

To legally purchase a firearm out of state, the following steps generally apply:

  • Identification: Ensure you possess a valid, government-issued photo ID that meets the requirements for purchasing a firearm.
  • Age Requirement: Verify that you meet the minimum age requirement for purchasing the firearm you want. Age restrictions vary depending on the type of firearm and the state.
  • Form 4473: When purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer, every buyer must fill out and submit Form 4473, also known as the Firearms Transaction Record. The ATF mandates this form and collects important information about the buyer, such as their personal details, identification, and firearm ownership eligibility. When purchasing online, you will fill this out at the FFL you ship the firearm.
  • Background Check: Under federal law, every firearm purchased from a licensed dealer requires a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
  • Federal Firearms License (FFL) Transfer: If you purchase from a licensed dealer, the firearm must be transferred to a licensed dealer in your state of residence. This involves contacting a local FFL holder to facilitate the transfer.

Can You Buy a Handgun Out of State?

Handgun purchases from out-of-state face more stringent restrictions due to the GCA. In most cases, you cannot purchase a handgun directly from an out-of-state dealer and take possession of that firearm. Typically, You would have the dealer send it to a local dealer in your area.

However, in a person-to-person sale, there is an exception known as the “face-to-face” or “in-state” exception. This means that if both the buyer and the seller are residents of the same state, they can conduct the transaction through an FFL dealer in their state of residence, depending on the state laws.

Can You Buy a Long Gun Out of State?

In most circumstances, long guns, such as rifles and shotguns, can be purchased from an out-of-state dealer. The transfer can be completed as long as the sale complies with federal law and the laws of both the buyer’s and the seller’s states. However, some states have implemented additional restrictions on long gun sales, so it is crucial to research and abide by the respective states’ laws.

Buying a long gun out of state

Most recently, several states have changed the laws regarding AR-15-style rifles, so be sure to check specific ones in your state.

Transferring Firearms Across State Lines

Federal background check

To transfer a firearm across state lines, you must follow the guidelines set forth by the ATF. This involves shipping the firearm to an FFL holder in your residence, who will conduct the necessary background checks and transfer the firearm to you.

It’s best practice to talk with the FFL holder you choose and ensure they are willing to accept the firearm transfer and comply with all legal requirements.

Important Factors to Consider

  • State Laws: Familiarize yourself with the laws of both the buyer’s and seller’s states. This includes understanding any restrictions on magazine capacity, specific firearms, waiting periods, and licensing requirements.
  • Private Sales: Private sales, also known as non-licensed transfers, may be subject to different rules depending on the state. Some states require private sales through an FFL holder, while others allow direct sales between individuals. Research the laws in both states involved to ensure compliance.
  • Traveling with Firearms: If you plan to travel to another state to purchase a firearm, be aware of the transportation regulations for firearms. It is crucial to comply with federal and state laws regarding transportation, storage, and carrying firearms to avoid legal complications.

The USCCA has some great resources on its website’s “Federal Private Firearm Transfer Laws” page.

Best Practices for Buying a Gun Out of State

To navigate the process of buying a gun out of state smoothly, consider the following best practices:

  • Research State Laws: Thoroughly research the laws and regulations of your residence and the state you plan to purchase from. Understand the requirements, restrictions, and any additional permits or licenses needed.
  • Consult with FFL Dealers: Contact FFL dealers in both states to seek guidance and ensure compliance with all legal requirements. They can provide valuable insight into the process and any specific state regulations that may apply.
  • Maintain Documentation: Keep all relevant documentation related to the purchase, including receipts, transfer forms, and background check records. This documentation is essential for legal compliance and proof of ownership.
  • Seek Legal Advice: If you are unsure about buying a gun out of state or have concerns about the applicable laws, consider consulting with an attorney specializing in firearms law. They can provide personalized advice based on your specific circumstances.

Buying a Gun Out of State Conclusion

Buying a gun out of state can be a little of a complex process. It requires diligence, understanding of federal and state laws, and adherence to ATF regulations. Purchasing a firearm across state lines is possible under certain circumstances. Although it is essential to research the specific laws of both the buyer’s and seller’s states. Further, you must follow the correct background checks and transfer procedures and ensure compliance with all applicable regulations. You can confidently navigate buying a gun out of state by understanding your options, researching, and seeking guidance from FFL dealers or legal professionals.

Buying a Gun Out of State FAQs

Can I buy a gun out of state online?

Yes, you can purchase a firearm online; however, it must be transferred to an FFL holder in your residence to complete the necessary background checks and paperwork.

Can I buy a gun out of state at a gun show?

Yes, you can purchase a firearm at a gun show out of state, but the transaction must still go through an FFL holder in your state of residence.

Can I transport a firearm across state lines without an FFL?

Yes, you can transport a firearm across state lines without an FFL as long as you comply with federal and state laws. It is important to research and understand the specific regulations of both the departure and destination states.

Can I buy a gun out of state if I am a non-resident?

Yes, you can purchase a firearm out of state as a non-resident. You must comply with the federal and state laws of the state you buy from and your state. This typically involves utilizing the services of an FFL holder for the transfer.

Are there any restrictions on purchasing firearms across state lines?

Yes, there may be restrictions depending on the type of firearm, the buyer’s and seller’s states, and any applicable state laws. Researching and understanding the laws governing interstate firearm purchases is crucial to ensure compliance.

Can I buy a gun out of state with a felony conviction?

No, federal law prohibits individuals with felony convictions from purchasing or possessing firearms. This restriction applies regardless of whether the purchase is made within the state of residence or across state lines.

Can I buy a gun out of state for someone else?

No, purchasing a firearm for someone else is illegal, commonly known as a “straw purchase.” The buyer must complete the background checks and paperwork and take ownership of the firearm.


  • Michael Hodgdon

    A firearm, shooting, outdoor, and hunting enthusiast for over 35 years. Thank you all for the suggestions on topics you would like to see; we'll keep posting as you keep sending them in. Please comment; we will try to answer all comments quickly.

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