Given the confusion, lies and pure garbage being regurgitated by the mainstream media about gun sales and background checks, it seems appropriate to release this excerpt from our forthcoming book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Guns and Shooting. We hope you enjoy!
You can buy all sorts of things online.
The Jack LaLanne Power Juicer, Vince Shlomi’s Slap-Chop food processor, the Ninja Cooking System and even a Brazilian Butt Lift kit. Not that I need a butt-lift kit.
How would you buy a gun online you ask? Well, let’s start with a short quiz to check your internet armament shopping knowledge. After you answer, we’ll take a closer look at why one answer is right and the others are incorrect.
Which of the following is an effective way to purchase a gun online?
A. eBay – Search for “illegal assault weapons of doom” or something roughly equivalent. When you find a suitable match, bid like Congress investing in solar power companies until you win.
B. Craig’s List – Check the listings in your area, hit the ATM for a wad of cash, and drive to your next encounter with destiny. Preferably alone and at night.
C. Answer one of those emails requesting your assistance moving $20 million into the United States. Perhaps the former Prime Minister of Mozambique wants to sell some guns before fleeing the country?
If you answered A, eBay, you made a valiant, common-sense effort, but unfortunately it won’t work. You think Michael Bloomberg runs a nanny city? Try eBay. They run a nanny auction site. Every time the corporate coffee maker runs dry, eBay announces new restrictions about the things they won’t sell. Like stuffed birds, military aircraft and ships, human body parts, or accessories for assault weapons. Just where are you supposed to find a spare gall bladder anyway? Just know that eBay frowns upon selling anything gun related. They know better than you what you want and need. Just accept it.
If you answered B, Craig’s List, think for a minute. If a guy is selling a gun on Craig’s List, and wants to meet you downtown at 2am because that’s when he gets off work, you may want to reconsider your gun buy plan. You might be safer booking a trip to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and telling a bartender you work for the Policia Federal. Ask him where you can buy a new AK47 and some crystal meth. I’m sure he’ll be plenty helpful!
If you answered C, International Financier Connections, well, why not? The odds of legally getting a gun that way are just as solid as the odds of getting your 25% commission for your assistance with moving the former Prime Minister’s fortune.
If you guessed D, you are either a gun guru, on the Department of Homeland Security’s watch list because you’re one of those pesky activists who understands things like laws. Watch your six!
That’s right, it’s perfectly legal to buy a gun online.
In fact, buying and selling guns is just about the most regulated activity there it. It’s even more regulated than Jamie Lee Curtis after taping an entire season of Activia commercials.
How Online Gun Sales Work
The first concept to understand is that there is a thing called the Federal Government. Drones who populate the Federal Government make laws and rules whenever they’re not busy campaigning, having scandalous affairs and cheating on their taxes. One of the laws that the Federal Government has flatulated is the Gun Control Act of 1968. This law was established, in 1968, to codify many important things like common-sense limitations on the size of personal commemorative spoon collections. But for purposes of this topic, we’ll limit our discussion to two components of the act:
- Prohibition of direct sale or mail order of firearms across state lines.
- Mandating the federal licensing of companies and individuals engaged in the business of selling firearms. Licensed organizations and individuals are commonly referred to as FFLs.
Federal Firearms License or FFL
What’s an FFL? That stands for Federal Firearms License. It’s a piece of paper with words. It’s also genuine, bona-fide proof from the US Government that says your firearms dealer is really a dealer. FFLs can also legally sell qualified individuals firearms in face-to-face transactions with the appropriate paperwork. In other words, FFLs are legally allowed to buy and sell guns for business purposes. Specific to buying guns online, when the selling dealer gets this FFL certificate from your dealer, they’re able to exchange it for 500 prize tickets at Chuck E Cheese. Well, not really, but the FFL certificate gives the selling dealer proof and documentation that they can legally ship a firearm to another dealer.
OK, now that we’re all clear on the specifics of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and FFLs, let’s get back to the topic of how to buy a gun online. Perhaps the easiest way to explain the process is via a handy step by step guide.
Steps to Buy a Gun Online!
- Google it! Go to a reputable website and search for the gun you want. We’re kind of partial to GalleryofGuns.com as they have a huge selection and pre-existing relationships with thousands of local dealers for delivery, but you can also find many reputable FFL dealers like GunUp.com that sell guns online. Be sure to get recommendations from folks in the know as to who is, and is not, reputable. If the web site you’re buying from has a domain name that ends in .ru, .kp or .temporaryuntilinterpolfindsusagain you may want to keep looking.
- Buy it! Once you find the gun you want, at the price you want, buy it! Most online sites will require full payment up front, but others like GalleryOfGuns.com operate through a collaborative effort with local dealers. In those cases, the online seller will take a deposit and you’ll pay the balance when you pick up the gun. More on that in a minute.
- Don’t get it! Now that you have bought and paid for your gun, it will NOT be shipped to you!
- Send the paperwork! The online seller will ask you to have a local (meaning in your state of residence) FFL dealer send them a copy of their FFL certificate. Your dealer’s FFL certificate will have their local address so the selling dealer knows where to ship the gun.
- Wait! At this point, the seller has your money, but they also have a document from your local dealer, certified by important government officials, that gives them an authorized shipping location.
- Wait! The selling dealers writes down information about the sale in their books. These are called ‘bound books’ probably because they are bound to be audited to government officials at some point.
- Wait! Next, the selling dealer ships your gun to your local (again, in-state) dealer. You still have not laid eyes on the gun you bought and paid for.
- Answer the phone! When your dealer receives your gun, they write down more numbers and such in their bound book. Then they call you to come pick it up.
- Fill out paperwork! When you go to pick up your gun, you will have to fill out a Form 4473. This is very similar to Form 4472, but one bigger. The Form 4473 requires you (the buyer) to fill out personal details like your name, birth date, citizenship information, favorite pastel color and whether or not you are hispanic. Yes, the most recent Form 4473 actually asks whether or not you’re hispanic. We’re not sure why. The Form 4473 also has lot’s of true / false questions that inquire about your eligibility to buy a gun. Are you currently in jail? Have you been convicted of illegal things? Do you intend to buy this gun for yourself or to send to Syrian rebels? In short, you’ll answer a dozen or so questions. Be truthful here as incorrectly filling out a Form 4473 is a big time crime.
- Listen in while your dealer talks to the Feds! When you have filled out and signed the Form 4473, your FFL dealer will call the FBI. This part of the process is called a NICS check. NICS stands for National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Your dealer will read off some of the information you inked on the Form 4473 to the FBI person on the phone. Your FFL dealer will most likely sound bored and uninterested while speaking to the FBI as both parties do this about a thousand times a day. The FBI will check their records to make sure you are eligible to buy a gun. If you’ve been a good boy or girl, the background check will come back positive in a minute or so and the FBI will tell your FFL dealer to proceed with the sale. Not to cause alarm, but the process doesn’t always work perfectly. So if you get a “no” response, don’t panic. False rejections are not entirely unusual as people have similar names and, of course, you are dealing with the government! If you’ve behaved and still get rejected, your local dealer can help guide you for next steps to clear things up.
- Pay a few bucks! Your FFL dealer will charge you some fee, usually $25 to $35 dollars for their trouble. After all, they need to send the seller their FFL, receive the shipment, process the paperwork, do a background check on you and store the records on the transaction forever. It’s a big pain in the butt for your local dealer so don’t complain too much about the transfer fee. Call your congress critter instead and ask them to repeal silly laws.
- Take your new gun home! That’s all there is to it! Now you get your gun!
The above scenario applies to gun sales that go across state lines. If you see a gun advertised on the internet in your home state, you can certainly contact the seller and make arrangements to go see and buy the gun. The seller cannot ship the gun to you, but they can sell it to you directly. This is America after all and private sales between two individuals are perfectly legal. If the seller is an FFL dealer, you’ll have to go to their location, fill out the same NICS background check paperwork and pass the check to get your gun. If the seller is a private individual not engaged in the business of buying and selling guns, you can meet that person to complete the transaction. Again, this scenario only applies when the seller and buyer are in the same state.
The Bottom Line
So, for all the political hoopla about getting guns online, background checks and the underground arms trade, buying and selling guns is a highly regulated process.
While it takes a few words to describe the process, it’s actually pretty simple. Now that you know the specifics of the process, it might be helpful to relate a real online purchase I made recently as it’s a lot easier than it sounds.
Buying a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 VTAC from GunUp.com
- I shopped online at GunUp.com and found an awesome Smith & Wesson M&P 15 VTAC at a great price. I clicked the “buy” button and paid via a credit card.
- I got an email from the sales team at GunUp.com asking for my FFL information.
- I emailed my local FFL, HHB Guns, and asked them to send a copy of their FFL Certificate to the folks at GunUp.com.
- About a week later, Henry at HHB guns called me and told me to come get my rifle.
- I stopped by, filled out the Form 4473, listened to Henry’s bored conversation with the FBI, and passed (whew!) my NICS check. It’s a good thing I don’t work for the Department of Justice or I might have been denied.
- I paid Henry $20 (HHB Guns has a great deal on transfer fees!) and took my rifle home. I think Henry was kind of sad to see it leave as it’s a really sweet rifle.
Piece of cake!
So here’s the bottom line.
I love shopping at local gun stores and shows. I often buy guns, accessories and supplies locally. But sometimes, that certain something you want is only available online. Or maybe you found a used gun on an auction site that you want to buy. Go ahead! While highly regulated, just like buying locally, purchasing online is safe, reliable and easy.