Typically, an online firearm purchase can be summarized simply as follows:
If you were hoping for a bit more detail, please read on!
There are a few requirements for ownership and purchase of firearms in the United States. One must be 18 to 21 or older, depending on the type of firearm and state and local laws. One must pass a National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS Check) and complete a Form 4473 at a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) who will transfer possession to you.
Information one must provide at time of purchase:
- birth date
- race and
- physical address
- place of birth
Therefore, please make sure to bring government issued documentation like a driver’s license for proof of identity, age and residency (for any questions on this refer to Question 18 on the Form 4473). Some states require additional documentation or licenses for gun ownership. Please check your state and local laws to make sure you have everything you need prior to picking up your firearm. In doing the background check you will verify that you are NOT under indictment or a felon, a fugitive from justice, an unlawful drug user, an illegal alien, a convicted domestic abuser, mentally defective, subject of a domestic restraining order or dishonorably discharged from the Military. You must also verify that you are the actual buyer of the firearm and a Citizen of the United States.
Be sure to inspect your firearm to make sure it is correct and undamaged. If the firearm received at the FFL dealer is damaged or incorrect, do not complete the transfer and contact us directly. The repair and return of firearms that have been transferred to the customer are dealt with by the manufacturer directly. Highby Outdoors is of course here to help in such instances: We can track down the necessary process for a manufacturer and show you that it is much easier than it sounds.
What is a FFL? Why does my Firearm need to be sent there?
FFL is a commonly used acronym for Federal Firearms License. There are several FFL variants that encompass most facets of the firearm and ammunition trade in the United States: Buying and selling new and used firearms, gunsmithing, collecting antiques, the manufacture of firearms, ammunition, and sale and manufacture of things that go boom and make craters in the ground. Everyone from the tiny gun shop across town, the online retailer (like us!), to the big-box sporting-goods retailer has some form of FFL if they are engaged in the business of firearms.
This system was born of the Gun Control Act of 1968. It laid the foundation for ownership and purchasing requirements and created the federal firearms licensee system that effectively regulates all interstate commerce of firearms. All firearm purchases excepting some examples between private individuals, must be completed through a FFL in the state of the acquirer’s residence.
What forms do I need to purchase a Firearm?
The Form 4473 is the official documentation required by the federal government to complete a transfer of a firearm to an individual, trust, or corporation. The FFL provides this form at time-of-purchase. This document is given the same status as a tax return and cannot be disclosed in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974. States and local governments may have additional requirements that are ultimately a purchaser’s responsibility. For example, in Illinois an additional Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card is required to purchase firearms. In Nebraska, home of Highby Outdoors, there are no additional restrictions for the purchase of shotguns and rifles, but prospective handgun purchasers must first apply and receive a Firearm Purchase Permit to purchase handguns. On the other hand, states such as Texas apply no additional hurdles to purchase firearms, and in fact Texas can expedite firearms purchases for individuals who have a Texas License to Carry a Handgun (LTC) because they technically have a standing background check as a requirement for the license.
What are the differences in purchasing a handgun vs. a shotgun or rifle?
Handgun purchases are limited to those 21 years of age or older, and rifles are restricted to those 18 years and older. This is of course subject to change depending on your state and local laws. For example, Washington recently raised the age requirement for the purchase of certain long-guns to 21.