Buying a Gun Online


  1. Know what you can get. Before you start looking, know what federal, state, and local regulations you need to observe. You also need to have a good idea of what you want to buy when you start looking.
    • On a federal level, you are legally eligible to buy any type of long gun, such as a rifle or shotgun, as long as you are over the age of 18 and are not a convicted felon. You are legally eligible to buy a handgun if you are over the age of 21 and are not a convicted felon.
    • State and local restrictions vary, however, so you need to verify that there are no restrictions preventing you from buying or owning a gun within your city or state. For instance, some states do not permit anyone with a domestic violence conviction to own a gun even when this conviction is a misdemeanor. Others have restrictions on the type of gun you can own or buy, as is the case with Chicago's ban on handguns. Some municipalities, like Washington, D.C., prohibit the possession of guns within the municipality’s borders altogether.
  2. Select a local FFL dealer to ship the gun to. No one can ship a gun directly to your home or business address. Instead, you will need to choose a nearby firearms dealer to ship the gun to, and the dealer must have an FFL. You will later need to pick up the gun from that dealer directly.
    • You should contact your local gun shop first before choosing that shop as your shipping destination. First of all, doing so establishes a relationship with that gun shop and may make the transaction easier overall. Some gun shop owners will not even handle the transfer of guns purchased on the Internet, so you need to check with the shop to make sure that it is okay to have your gun ship to them.
    • Secondly, doing so also allows you to find out about any state or local rules regarding the sale and ownership of guns in your area. Asking the local gun shop about such regulations is probably the simplest way to find out what these laws actually are.
  3. Place your order. Once the details are set, formally place your order with the seller according to his or her terms of purchase.
    • The FFL dealer receiving your gun may require you to pay a fee for his or her services.
    • When you check out, you will need to provide your name and address for billing purposes as well as the address and contact information of the FFL dealer you have chosen to ship your gun to.
  4. Work with the FFL dealer to get your gun. Before you can pick up your gun, you will need to fill out ATF Form 4473 undergo a background check through the FFL dealer who receives it. Once you are cleared, you can pick up the gun as soon as it arrives at the dealer's place of business.
    • It is generally a good idea to complete this background check before you even make the purchase. If you wait until afterward and you fail the background check, you will not be able to take the firearm and, depending on the terms of your agreement with the seller, you may not even be able to get your money back.