Your Gun Guide: How to Buy a Gun Online

With more products migrating online, guns and ammunition are part of this trend. We take a look at how to buy a gun online safely and legally.

Do you do most of your shopping online?

E-commerce sales have gone up nearly $10 billion since 2019. The convenience of buying online, coupled with the availability of hard-to-find items, makes websites the perfect shopping experience.

If you’re wondering how to buy a gun online, this article is for you. In this short, but complete guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know.

What exactly goes into buying a gun online? Read on to find out.

Navigating Gun Laws

When you’re buying a gun in the United States, you’ll need to abide by county, state, and federal firearm laws. The laws are going to vary from each jurisdiction. For instance, some states will have strict gun laws, whereas other places will be easier to purchase from.

The more familiar you are with the handgun laws in your town, the more responsible you’ll be as a handgun owner. You can start your research on the internet, but you’ll want to do a little bit of fact-checking too.

For instance, taking a concealed weapons permit class is a great way to learn the ins and outs of gun laws. You can also reach out to your local sheriff’s office, this site, or the Police department to double-check your gun law findings.

They’ll help you understand the laws fully and might even be able to provide you with resources, such as pamphlets. Then you can quickly reference the gun laws until you have them fully memorized.

How to Buy a Gun Online Legally

Along with knowing how to buy a gun online, you’ll also need to know if you qualify. For one, you can’t have a criminal record. There are certain exceptions to this rule, but they’re very few and far between.

You’ll also need to pass a background check. You won’t need to pass a background check if you’re buying from a private seller. However, since you’re buying your gun online, chances are you purchasing from a licensed firearm dealer. 

Gun laws also state that you can’t suffer from a mental illness that could impair your judgment. If you’ve undergone treatment for alcohol or drug addiction within the last 5 years, you also won’t qualify for gun ownership.

Legal immigrants and US citizens both qualify, as long as they’re of legal age. You have to be at least 18 years old if you’re purchasing from a private seller. If you’re buying your gun online from a licensed dealer, you’re going to need to be 21 years old.

In many states, the minimum age for being allowed to carry a handgun in public will be 21 as well. However, there isn’t any type of age restriction on a federal level for owning a shotgun or rifle.

Concealed Carry Licensing and Training

Your state might have gun laws in place that require training and licensing. In many cases, the training and licensing aren’t necessarily just to own a gun. However, if you want to carry a handgun in public, you’re probably going to have to obtain some type of permit.

Your state might also distinguish between a concealed carry and an open carry permit. There might be a licensing requirement for open carry, but not concealed carry.

A handful of states such as California and New York have unique rules about issuing gun permits. These states won’t issue permits for individuals to take their handguns into public unless they can show a credible threat against their property or life.

Should You Buy a Revolver Online?

Before deciding what gun dealer to go with, you’ll need to decide what type of gun you want to buy. Instead of asking yourself which gun is better, ask yourself what gun will best suit your needs.

For instance, would you do better with a revolver or a semiautomatic handgun? Both guns have great features but offer a completely different shooting style.

If you’re brand new to the gun world, a revolver can be a perfect choice. Revolvers are simple to operate. Since there are fewer moving parts, you won’t have to worry about intricate repairs as often as you would with a semiautomatic.

You’ll be able to focus on your shooting basics when using a revolver. Revolvers can also be great if you’re working with a tight budget. These guns tend to be more price-friendly without having to sacrifice quality.

The downside to owning and a revolver is low ammunition capacity. Revolvers also have limited customization options, unlike super customizable semiautomatics.

Buying a Semiautomatic Online

Semiautomatic handguns will take a bit more skill, but they can still be a good beginner’s choice. As long as you’re willing to put in the practice, you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with your semiautomatic handgun over time.

One of the biggest bonuses of using a semiautomatic is that you’ll have high ammunition capacities and fast reloads. The gun design also offers better ergonomics, making them easy to handle. We find that semiautomatics are some of the best self-defense handguns, including home defense options.

Along with having plenty of calibers to choose from, you’ll have all sorts of cool accessories to add on. You can expect to pay a lot more for a semiautomatic pistol than you would for a revolver. You’ll also have to pay for repairs since semiautomatics are more likely to malfunction.

Of course, suppose you’re going to be investing in a high-end semiautomatic that comes from a reputable manufacturer. In that case, malfunctions aren’t expected to occur.

Companies with high-quality control standards work hard to protect their reputation. Guns like Glock and Heckler or Koch firearms will rarely ever have a malfunction issue.

State Residency and Online Firearms Stores

Did you already select the firearm that you want? You’ll also want to find out if the online dealer can ship the firearm to you. A lot of websites will have a feature that allows you to determine if you can legally have the firearms shipped to your ZIP code.

Keep in mind that you’ll only be able to add firearms to your shopping cart that you’re legally allowed to purchase in your state of residency. You also won’t be able to have the firearm shipped directly to your home.

Instead, the website you’re purchasing from will have a feature where you can choose the delivery location. The delivery location will be at an approved FFL dealer.

Choose a Federally Licensed Dealer

What exactly is an FFL dealer? FFL stands for a federal firearms license.

They’re companies or individuals who are federally licensed. The license allows these individuals to be a part of firearms sales.

When you’re purchasing a gun online, typically, you’re using a website that has multiple gun dealers. After buying a gun, or during the check-out process, you’ll arrange to have it shipped to a local delivery location. For instance, you might choose a gun store near your home.

The local gun dealer doesn’t have to be related to the sale. In other words, the place you pick up your gun from doesn’t have to be the same individuals you’re purchasing from.

Delivery Times

Depending on the firearm you choose, delivery times can vary by quite a bit. Typically it’s normal to have your firearm delivered to the FFL dealer within 5 to 10 business days. A lot of companies will send you an email notification or text notification the moment that your firearms arrive at your chosen location.

Picking up Your Gun

What will happen when you arrive to pick up your gun? For starters, you’re going to have to complete the ATF Form 4473. This form is required for any type of firearms transaction.

Some FFL locations will have computers or tablets that you can fill out the forms on. Other retailers are going to have you create a physical copy of the form.

No matter what, though, you can’t escape undergoing the background check paperwork for owning a gun. Whether you’re buying online or in-person, you have to have a squeaky clean record when the background check takes place.

You aren’t allowed to have the background check done before picking up your firearm. Federal law mandates that the background check be completed by the FFL dealer during the pickup process. Along with the background check information, you can expect to fill out your state, county, and federal firearm paperwork.

Transfer Fees

You’ll want to find out ahead of time how much the FFL dealer charges for their transfer fees. While some dealers only charge $15, others charge up to $60 or more. Before you can take your firearm home, you’ll have to pay the transfer fee in full.

Build Your Firearm Collection

Now that you know how to buy a gun online, nothing can stop you from building your dream collection. Instead of having to shop at brick-and-mortar stores, you can enjoy the wide selection and prices of firearms online.

Deciding what type of firearm you want is the first step. Will it be a revolver? Semiautomatic?

Once you know the type of gun you want, you can look for the best deal along with the best quality. For more ways to find the best deals, take a peek around the rest of our website.

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