Originally Posted by freespool
I've been wrestling with this one all day, as a California resident, to see if I can legally buy a long gun out of state from an FFL and bring it home. I've come to agree with the CA gun expert consensus that this isn't legal, but for reasons of limiting CA law, not Federal law per se.
It seems clear the seller violates 922(a)(5), in the OPs original scenario, but I don't see that the buyer has violated any laws. 922(a)(3) forbids bringing a gun back that has been purchased out of state (unless in a face to face transaction with an FFL). 922(a)(1) forbids making a business out of guns or ammo without being licensed. Those don't seem to apply in the given hypothetical.
In regards to a CA resident purchasing a shotgun/rifle from an out of state FFL:
1. The seller would not violate 18 USC 922(a)(5). 18 USC 922(a)(5) only applies to non-FFLs, "persons other than licensed dealers", and does not apply to licensed dealers.
2. I can not find anything in California law that prohibits a CA resident from buying a rifle/shotgun from an out of state FFL.
3. The sale must comply with the laws of both states - the state the FFL is in and the state the buyer is from. This is where you have problems. Whatever hoops an FFL in California must jump through to sell a rifle/shotgun, those same requirements are on the out of state FFL as well. I do not know if it is desireable or even possible for an out of state FFL to meet the California requirements and this is what the limiting factor would me as near as I can tell.