The buying and selling of firearms is an ongoing practice that is made easier thanks to websites like GunBroker and GunsAmerica. These sites allow private gun owners to list and sell firearms to individuals anywhere in the country. However, without FFL transfers, these sales would be far less safe.
What is an FFL and how does it affect you?
A FFL (Federal Firearms License) is a license obtained by an individual or a company that allows them to engage in the interstate or intrastate sale of firearms. They act as a medium between the seller and the purchaser as a means of verification that the intended recipient of the firearm is someone who is not prohibited from owning one, such as a felon or someone deemed mentally unstable. This information is obtained through a background check performed by the FFL holder similar to one that would be performed if someone was purchasing a gun directly from a dealer. These individuals provide a safe and legal transfer for the firearm.
An individual can sell a firearm to someone in the same state (in some states, not all) and as long as they feel comfortable with the person, such as a friend or a family member, the need for a FFL may not be needed. This is not a wise decision, however, because things can happen and if a person commits an act with a firearm you sold them, you can be held legally liable if the police feel their intentions are something of which you should have been aware. Someone who has obtained a license to sell firearms has gone through all the proper channels and knows how to handle firearm sales better than a person who just wants to rid themselves of the .22 caliber rifle in the back of their gun cabinet.
This also works in reverse. If you are purchasing a gun from someone on a website, it is important to verify the firearm was obtained by legal means and you aren’t purchasing a stolen or faulty weapon. The FFL can check numbers and verify the legality of the purchase to protect both parties.
Firearms sales are tricky and the laws restricting them vary from state to state. In order to ensure the safety and legality of the purchase, using a FFL is the best way to conduct the transaction.