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How to Buy a Gun Online (2022 UPDATED) Read This First

How To Buy A Gun Online

Buying a gun online is convenient especially when it’s difficult to find what you want locally. You may have hesitated to buy online in the past because it seems like a tedious process but it’s really quite simple. To help, today’s blog post breaks down the steps to buying a gun online. 

8 Steps to Buying a Gun Online

1. Confirm the firearm you plan to buy is legal for you to possess in your state.

Buying a firearm online is legal. However, each state has their own regulations and strict definitions of what firearms are allowed and restrictions on who can purchase them. It is your responsibility to ensure that purchasing and possessing a firearm is legal for you. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of time only to find out that you can’t take possession of the firearm.

Reputable websites like Brownell’s will notify you if you attempt to purchase a firearm or accessory that is not legal in your state, but you only get that notice when you are completing your order. Save yourself the hassle by doing a small amount of research yourself.

Regulations for online sales not only limit the types of firearms that are legal to buy in your state. There are limitations that affect you personally, such as age [1], criminal history background, mental health records, citizenship and other factors.

You may also be required to show proof of residency, obtain a license or permit to purchase, complete a training course, and/or register the firearm with local police or other governmental agencies.

Look up the laws specific to your state by looking at your state’s governmental agency site to ensure you have the most up to date information.

2. If required, obtain licensing, permits, and/or training

If your state doesn’t require licensing, permits or training, you can skip this one. But if you reside in a more restrictive state, you will need to apply for the proper licensing and permits, and/or complete the required training. Follow the specific requirements for your state. Often this requires a trip to your local police station or city clerk.

3. Find A Local Dealer With A Federal Firearms License (FFL)

It may seem strange that you have to find a local dealer before buying a gun online, but federal law dictates that your online firearms purchase must be delivered to a federally licensed gun dealer before you can take possession of it in a process referred to as a transfer.

When you purchase a firearm online, you will be asked to select a federally licensed local gun shop where your new firearm will be shipped. The website may have a drop-down listing dealers in your area, but some require you to enter the dealer name, mailing address, and contact information yourself. Keep in mind that just because a dealer is listed, it doesn’t mean they accept transfers.

Contact Your Local FFL & Arrange The Firearm Transfer

Be familiar with which local FFL dealers perform transfers before you make your purchase. It’s important to check their policies online or call them to confirm that they perform transfers. Below are a few questions you may want to ask.

  • Do you perform transfers?
  • How much does a transfer cost?
  • Will you notify me when my firearm arrives?
  • Do I need to make an appointment for the transfer, or can I arrive anytime during business hours?
  • What do I need to bring with me to complete the transfer (i.e. Photo ID, Concealed Carry License, License or Permit to Buy, etc.)?
  • If you can’t find it online, ask them for their mailing address, email address, and telephone number because you may be asked to enter it when you complete your purchase online.

4. Complete Your Online Purchase and Provide The Local Dealer’s Information

When you complete your purchase online, you will be required to provide the mailing address, email address, and telephone number of the local dealer you chose.

If the online retailer has never shipped to that dealer before, the website may ask them to email a copy of their license. In some instances, the online retailer make ask you to reach out to them to provide it. If this is the case, simply call the dealer and ask them to send the necessary documents to the online retailer. This is a common request and they should know what to send.

Pass The Background Check

5. Contact Your Local FFL and Arrange The Firearm Transfer

After you complete your purchase, call or email the local dealer to inform them that your firearm will be arriving. You may be asked to provide contact information or a tracking code, but now always. Dealers are used to handling transfers and will know what to do when your package arrives.

If you haven’t already, this is a good time to find out how you will be notified when the dealer takes possession of the firearm, what the transfer process will be like, what documentation you need to bring with you to complete the transfer, and ask any questions about state laws that you’re unsure about. It’s really important to know what to expect to avoid delays.

6. Complete the Transfer With Your Local FFL

When your new firearm arrives, the FFL will check in the firearm according to federal and state law. You will likely be contacted to schedule a time to come in person to do the transfer and take possession of your firearm, but that process varies by dealer.

Depending on your state, there are several steps the FFL dealer will perform to complete the transfer. This process is very similar to that of purchasing a firearm locally. You will be asked to complete ATF Form 4473 and provide your driver’s license or state-issued photo ID. Depending on your state, you may also be asked to provide your license or permit to purchase, proof of residency, or other documentation.

Coordinate The Firearm Transfer & Pay The Transfer Fee

You will also pay a transfer fee to the dealer which covers the background check and other steps the dealer must perform.

The dealer will verify your identification, confirm all licenses and documentation are in order, and perform a background check. If you are approved, you will then take legal possession of your new firearm.

7. Inspect Your Firearm

Even though you’ll be eager to get your gun home, thoroughly inspect the gun to ensure there is no damage before you leave the dealer. If you do discover damage or a defect, your local FFL can help you work with the online retailer to get a replacement.

8. Register Your New Firearm

If your state requires it, you need to go through the proper steps to register your new firearm. Depending on your state, you may register it with your local police department or another government entity.


Guns can be purchased online from a licensed seller in a different state as long as it is legal for your to purchase and possess the firearm in the state in which you reside. The firearm will be delivered to a federally licensed dealer of your choice in your area that will facilitate the transaction.

A firearm bought online cannot be delivered directly to the buyer’s residence. It must be delivered first to a gun dealer with an FFL (Federal Firearms License) and then transferred to the buyer once you meet all legal requirements such as providing required documentation (which varies from state to state) and passing a background check.

Final Thoughts On Purchasing A Gun Online

Purchasing a gun online is legal and relatively easy, as long as you follow state and federal laws. First, find a local dealer with an FFL license where your new firearm will be shipped to. Once it is delivered, just like purchasing a firearm in a physical store, you will then have to pass a background check and provide documentation (which varies depending on your state). Once approved, you will take possession of your firearm. If your state requires it, you must then register your firearm within a certain amount of time.


James Gangler

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