Shipping guns can be confusing. Laws are always changing and you might be breaking the law without even knowing it.
But an Alabama man named Eric L. knew what he was doing when he illegally shipped guns.
Eric had advertised guns for sale on an online classified website.
Turns out, he was operating a business shipping guns all over the U.S. – from New York to California.
According to the ATF, he used fake addresses and names to ship guns via FedEx.
The ATF was alerted to the activity after a federally licensed gun dealer reported that someone had purchased two or more firearms within five days.
Authorities learned that Eric had purchased many of the guns he sold from local shops.
Eric bought and sold at least 15 firearms, including AR-15 style weapons.
He used a burner phone to communicate with gun buyers.
After learning he was under investigation, he threw the phone in a dumpster.
Before he was arrested, Eric claimed to have been running his business for years.
He said he started shipping guns after watching a documentary about gun trafficking.
Now, Eric was breaking the law and should be held accountable for his crimes.
But, when it comes to shipping firearms, there is a way to do it legally.
So, here are a few factors to keep in mind when you are shipping firearms. No matter what you do, be sure to follow federal, state, and local laws.
Go through a gun dealer:
Let’s say you have a friend that wants to sell you his pistol. But, he lives in another state.
In this case, you both go to a local gun dealer that holds a federal firearms license. The dealers can do the paperwork and ship the gun from your friend’s gun shop to your local dealer.
They will likely charge you both a fee, but it’s worth it if you want the gun.
An FFL allows both gun shops to ship and receive guns in accordance with federal and state laws.
When the gun shop receives the firearm, they will complete the paperwork and background check.
Since you purchased the gun from a person in another state, you will need to do paperwork similar to if you were buying a gun from the store.
Without an FFL:
If you don’t have an FFL or don’t want to go through a licensed shop, then you are limited in what you can ship.
If you don’t have an FFL, you can ship a firearm to another state if you are shipping it to yourself.
In other words, if you are traveling to another state to hunt or engage in any lawful activity you can ship the gun from your home state to the state you are going to.
The catch is that you have to address the gun to yourself and you must be the one to take possession of the firearm when it arrives.
Not only are there state and federal laws to follow when shipping guns, but the carriers also have their own rules.
USPS will not ship handguns unless they are for military or law enforcement use. Even if you are shipping a handgun to an FFL, USPS will not do it.
You can ship long guns but must still follow federal and state laws.
UPS will only ship firearms between FFL dealers, from an FFL to an individual, or from an individual to an FFL dealer.
You must also take the firearm to specific UPS centers. You cannot walk into any UPS Store and ship the gun. Someone will be required to sign to receive the package.
Also, UPS ships handguns only by Next Day Air. Long guns can be shipped via ground.
FedEx has similar policies as UPS when it comes to who can ship guns and who they can be shipped to.
They also require overnight shipping as well as a signature by the receiver.
Regardless of the carrier, you must alert them to the fact that you are shipping a firearm. You must also ship ammo separately.
There are several ways you can ship a firearm.
If you are paying full price to buy a firearm from someone in another state the paperwork and dealer fees might not be worth it.
But if your family member wants to give you a gun and all you have to do is pay the FFL dealers it’s probably a good deal.
Not only are you paying the shop to ship the firearm, you are making sure that the transaction is completely legal.
Don’t forget, disassembling a firearm and shipping the parts separately doesn’t make it legal.