FFL Registry: Buying a Firearm

It is highly recommended that you contact the FFL dealer you wish to have a firearm shipped to - before you have a weapon shipped - in order to verify the complete cost of the transfer, to verify the legality of the item in your area, and to make sure you qualify to pass any required background checks. Your selected FFL dealer should be able to provide you all the information you need to facilitate a transfer. If not, find another FFL dealer.

Under federal law, new firearms may only be sold by businesses which possess a Federal Firearms License (FFL). FFL dealers are licensed by the federal government and are subject to federal, state and local regulations and may only offer firearms that are legal within the state, county, and city where they operate. Additionally, they must observe all federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and rules which may apply to the purchase. If your state requires a waiting period, it is the FFL dealer's responsibility to inform you of its duration and to enforce it. You will be expected to complete all paperwork and pay in full before the waiting period begins.

You will be asked to show legal proof of your identity every time you purchase a firearm. In some states FFL dealers are required to ask the buyer to show additional proof that the buyer is authorized to purchase a firearm. Your FFL Dealer will be able to tell you what identification is required beyond a state issued driver's license or ID card. Some local jurisdictions require buyers to purchase firearms locks, show proof that they own a gun safe, or pass a test before they can buy a gun from an FFL dealer.

The federal paperwork requirements are stringent and strictly regulated. Many FFL dealers will say they're in the paperwork business and not the firearms business. You and the FFL dealer will fill out a Form 4473 (either on paper or electronically). Because the dealer is responsible for keeping this form on file - for decades - he may charge you a fee for filling out paperwork for firearms you have transferred to him on your behalf.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is a federal clearinghouse that the FFL dealer may call during the Form 4473 process. The FFL dealer will receive one of three possible answers from NICS: an approval, a delay, or a deny. Delays do not always result in a denial and the FFL dealer will let you know when/if you can return to finish the purchase. A denial means you are unable to purchase the firearm. If your sale is denied, you will want to find out the reason for it and, if justified, fight to appeal the denial. There may be additional fees for transferring a firearm if the FFL dealer is required to call NICS.