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Old July 26, 2009, 09:32 PM   #1
Ruffian
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How to safely and legally sell (legally) unregistered guns?

Hello everyone. My name is Laura, and I was directed here from another forum where I posted this very question. I would love your experience and input to help me (us) know what to do.

The situation: My father passed away in February, leaving his large collection of guns and ammo behind. Dad was a hunter, so most are for that purpose, but there are a few handguns as well.

Apparently, the rifles and guns are not registered; supposedly, they were not required to be at the time of purchase. (Nearly all of these guns are 20+ years old, with the exception of one rifle.)

No one in my family wants the guns, including my widowed mother, but we do not know a dang thing about what to do with them. We know some of them are fairly valuable, but not how valuable, and more importantly we don't know the legal way to go about selling them. Though Dad was a gun nut, none of us were--which means we all know precisely jack squat about the ins and outs of selling/buying/pricing/registering.

What's the best approach for this that is both legal, safe (gah, don't need people showing up randomly for a "guns for sale" ad) and assures fair price?

FTR: We're in California, if that affects anything, although only one of the guns that I/we know of was actually purchased in this state. I don't know how many guns there are, and I don't know specific models or types beyond "handgun(s) and rifles." Well--I think one is a 9mm, and another is a 22 rifle...but don't quote me.

Also, this should seem obvious, but...please don't try soliciting info about the guns; it's not why I'm here. I'm lost enough as it is.

Thank you so much!
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Old July 26, 2009, 10:14 PM   #2
Dustin0
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I dont know about ins and outs about selling in California. But I can tell you Dont sell them to a gun store you will never get close to what they are worth. If they take them on consignment you can get close the vaule. Plus the can help you with any legal questions. I hope helps.
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Old July 26, 2009, 10:18 PM   #3
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Bud,
I directed this person to this forum in the hopes she could get better advice here.
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Old July 26, 2009, 10:25 PM   #4
Bud Helms
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Quote:
What's the best approach for this that is both legal, safe (gah, don't need people showing up randomly for a "guns for sale" ad) and assures fair price?
No way to assure fair price unless they are sold one at a time by some one who knows the value of each one. That could take quite a while.

A gun shop on consignment seems as good a way as any to get an average fair price. The advantage of going through a reputable gun shop is the availability of an FFL (Federal Firearms License) right there on premise. Many gun shops will go through estate properties like this and give the family estimates as purchase offers or as consignment values.

If you could get an accurate list of everything, there are some of us here that could give estimates of a fair price for each piece. You could post such the list right here and get estimates in reply posts, if you're comfortable doing that.

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Gbro, I hope we can help. Thanks for the vote of confidence. We have some stand up members here that will help if they can.

As a matter of fact we have a Buy, Sell & Trade forum right here, but I sense you are not looking for a prolonged sale, piece by piece ...?
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Old July 26, 2009, 10:27 PM   #5
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Unfortunately, being in California very, very much complicates what would otherwise be fairly easy, simple and straightforward.

What you need right now is someone in California who is a good, upstanding and honest "gun guy." If you were in Ohio, I'd be honored to help. But I'm not close and I don't know the specifics of CA laws with regards to firearms other than "I HATE 'EM!" Most gun folks do. Places like "Illinois", "California" and "Maryland" are nearly cuss words to gun people!

California is one of the tougher states in the country with regards to gun restrictions. That's not really a surprise to most people... If it's something highly regulated, California tends to be a leader in that field.

In many/most states, firearms are completely legal to be sold face to face by private (non-dealer) citizens. In California and a few other states, some guns are restricted by their ammo capacity or an "approved" list and some transactions must involve dealers. CA is particularly snotty when it comes to handguns whose origin is from out of state. I'm not sure how it works, but it's likely a slew of red tape.

I wish I had better suggestions, but I can only offer the basics. I would really, really recommend that you NOT go to a gun store or a gun show lest you get picked apart by some vultures. If you have the energy to learn a bit (or at least try?) then there is a price guide that is pretty much -the- standard reference for values. It won't make you any good at judging condition, but it might get you at least a reference point.

The book is "The Blue Book of Gun Values" and I think it's in it's 30-something edition. The author is S.P.Fjestad, not many names like it, so it should be easy to find.

I know we've got some really stand-up folks here in this forum that are in California... I'd like to see one of them step up to the plate. You need to find someone you know, or someone that someone you trusts can trust.

You need a gun guy, and a decent citizen, and he needs to be in CA, and then you need to trust him.

He's out there... and I hope you find him.
And I'm sorry for your loss.
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Old July 26, 2009, 10:34 PM   #6
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I think you need to have someone look at the collection before anything else. California has some 'Do not own' firearms that I would think if you came across you'd be best off contacting your attorney before trying to sell. Maybe a call to the Department of Justice might be a good idea. I'm sure they deal with estates on occasion.
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Old July 26, 2009, 10:40 PM   #7
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I would NOT be doing that right away.
For a lot of governmental agencies (from local yokel all the way to the ATF) it is most likely MUCH EASIER for them to simply arrive, take all of it, and tell you that you did the right thing. You won't even get a tax write off.

I'm sure the intent of the suggestion was a good one, but I would leave that as a MUCH later option when others have been explored.
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Old July 26, 2009, 10:52 PM   #8
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Well, I like Sevens' idea best of all.
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Old July 27, 2009, 06:00 AM   #9
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Find an honest gun dealer. Have the guns appraised and ask him to sell them on consignment for you. You will not get the full value of the guns because most dealers will keep about 10% of what they sell for. Just make sure it is someone that you trust. It wouldn't hurt to do a little research ahead of time so you have a pretty good idea what they should sell for. If there is a family friend that knows guns it would help.

Even though face to face sales are legal here I have had more luck getting more money going the consignment route. A lot of people are afraid to buy from an individual. A lot more people see my guns everyday when sitting in a busy gunshop as well. It may take a while to sell them all regardless of how you do it. Some will sell quickly, others may take a year or more.
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Old July 27, 2009, 07:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
don't need people showing up randomly for a "guns for sale" ad
To be clear: California requires firearms sales to be performed through a licensed dealer, so there are no private sales. If you run an ad, the transaction must be completed at a dealer.

Ruffian, what part of California? Maybe someone can direct you to a good dealer. If your dad had hunting buddies, they may be good, too.

Sorry for your loss.

Lee
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Old July 27, 2009, 08:19 AM   #11
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First thing I'd do is look carefully at each gun and try to identify it. Most of them will have the manufacterer, model, and caliber stamped into the barrel somewhere. Seperate out the guns you can identify vs those you can't. Then you can google what you identified to find out more about them or use a site like budsgunshop.com or gunbroker.com to get a rough idea what they're worth (Gunbroker is an auction site - bud's is probably your best bet). This will give you a rough idea on the value of the gun. Even if you found old paperwork/reciepts you'd probably not be able to determine the value of the guns, prices have risen dramatically the last few years.

Depending on your feelings, you might want to consider setting aside 2 or 3 of the guns for grandkids. While nobody in your family may currently have an interest, you never know who's going to get the bug. You'll never hear the end of your kids' lamentations about the time "Mom sold off all of Grandpa's guns!" A shotgun, hunting rifle, and maybe a handgun would be a good choice.
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Old July 27, 2009, 08:23 AM   #12
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pictures. We need pictures.
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Old July 27, 2009, 08:36 AM   #13
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jmr40 has a very good idea, assuming someone can direct you to an honest dealer who will take consignments. See if one of your fathers friends, hunting buddies, can help you find a good dealer to talk to. A knowlegeable dealer should be able to assist in understanding Californias onerous regulations.

The last thing I'd consider at this point in time is contacting any governmental agency. Too easy for them to just say the guns are illegal and try to consfiscate them.

Good luck
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Old July 27, 2009, 08:41 AM   #14
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Get a full and comprehensive appraisal of all of the guns...doen by someone who is absolutely not going to purchase the guns. The appraisal should not only tell you price, but let you know if they can be legally owned in Cali or not. The appraisal should be private and only given to you. Then get an independant and trusted licensed firearms dealer to help you decide how to best go about liquidating them.
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Old July 27, 2009, 08:53 AM   #15
Ruffian
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Thanks, everyone. This is quite overwhelming to us, so it's good to have the experience and expertise of all of your input.

1-Up, I think we are saving a few of the guns, though I'm not sure. Funny, while Dad had all girls, his girls all had boys, and I think at least my sister's son might be interested in one. My son--at 3--has a ways to go, heh, but it's something to consider. Not sure what the bun who's still cooking is.

I need to call my Mom today and share what I'm learning. She's moving into a much smaller house in a month or so, and she doesn't want to take Dad's massive gun safe with her. I've heard her kicking around various ideas, but just taking the guns to a dealer may prove the easier path for her. She gets them out of the house all at once, it's legal, and she'll be sent payment as the individual guns sell.

I need to find out what, exactly, the guns are. I think his big gun is a Weatherby (he showed it to me when he bought it; told me it was a step below an elephant gun...used it, successfully, to hunt elk), but I don't know the specific model. Everything else is a throw-my-hands-up-in-the-air thing. I don't even know how many there are (hubby says there are many). Maybe what I can do is next time we're over--she's an hour+ away--we'll go through and find out what they are, after having Dad's hunting buddy neighbor ensure they aren't loaded.

Johnwilliamsson, we'll be getting pictures when we manage to get over there and catalog what he has.

Immcrock, my mother lives in Ventura County, if that helps narrow things down. (I'm in eastern LA County, about 15 miles east of Pasadena, if there's someone around here.)

What should we do about all of the bullets and other gun accessories?

Thanks so much, again. I think this is what it would be like if Dad were trying to sell all of my horse supplies and tack--"I don't know what it is, what it's for, or how much it's worth, but I know there's a lot of money wrapped up in these things..."
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Old July 27, 2009, 09:08 AM   #16
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Best of luck to you, whatever you and your mother and family decide, Ruffian.

Yes, a comprehensive list with as many details as possible on each piece of your father's "firearms estate" will help immeasurably, no matter which route you decide to take.

My condolences to you and the family on the loss of your father.

If you do manage to get pics, we will be more than happy to help you identify and maybe valuate any pieces your father left. This might be a good place to come and check on any offers you receive.

Take care of Mom.
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Old July 27, 2009, 09:36 AM   #17
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Another option, once you get the information on each gun together, would be to call one of the gun auctioneers like James Julia in Maine, or Rock Island. They might be able to help with values as well, and if any are valuable, they do auctions several times a year - both have been around a while and stellar reputations for honesty and above board behavior
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Old July 27, 2009, 10:18 AM   #18
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I'll also vouch for the Rock Island Auction - good folks who run a top quality good clean auction. You can't do any better than the Rock Island Auction.
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Old July 27, 2009, 10:35 AM   #19
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Did your dad belong to a gun club? If he did there is a wealth of expertise among his comrades there and out of all of them there will be at least one stand out guy who is the acknowledged gun guy. Get somebody like that to do the inventory and evaluation of the condition of the guns, that makes a big difference in asking price. It sounds as if he was a hunter/shooter and most likely does not have any proscribed guns, if there is any question on any of the guns your gun club guy will more likely know. Consignment sounds like your best bet but you still want an independent person with no monetary interest to do the evaluation even if you have to pay them a set fee for his work. If he was a friend or acquaintance they will probably do it for nothing. Good luck and I hope everything is resolved soon for you and your mother.

Note: My 300 Weatherby is a $2100 gun because it is semi custom, You can get a similar used gun for less than $700. I am just pointing this out so that you know there is more than just make and model number that goes into pricing a gun.
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Old July 27, 2009, 10:44 AM   #20
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Ruffian, I'm a gun dealer in Michigan and do a lot of business with gun dealers in California. I'm pretty familiar with the CA laws on guns and such. Generally all transactions must be done at a dealer, including private party sales. You bring the gun in, the buyer pays all the dealer fees. Do NOT let them talk you into paying any fees. That's (traditionally) the buyer's deal. They pay you for the gun(s), they pay the dealer for their services.

Since the guns are in Ventura County, I have a few dealers there I do business with. They might be willing and able to help you with IDing the guns you can't. I'm sure they could sell some on consignment.

Both places I have in mind have been great to work with. They are both closed on Monday but have Tuesday hours.

Fort Courage Armory is in Simi Valley and their number is 805-526-6563. Uncle Paul's Exchange is in Ventura and their number is 805-659-5000. Ft Courage's consignment is 20%. I don't know if Uncle Paul's does consignment or what their fee is.

Tell them Adam from Freakshow Manufacturing recommended them. They know who I am.

Most of my contacts in CA are in NorCal (Sac, Fresno, Ione, etc). Another place to check out is join up at calguns.net. It's a CA gun owners forum. Post in the general discussion subforum there and someone local will be able to help you sort through all the stuff and price everything. There's some good guys there.
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Old July 27, 2009, 11:53 AM   #21
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It might be worth the effort to look into the possibility of a gun show or gun store in Nevada so you don't have to deal with any of the absurdly annoying laws in Cali
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Old July 27, 2009, 01:34 PM   #22
Ruffian
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Okay, I gave my mom a call about a half hour ago. Thankfully, she hasn't done anything with the guns yet. Some things I've learned:

OldGrump, Dad did belong to a gun club, but it closed years ago. Our next door neighbor (who is also a hunting buddy) does not know of any gun clubs nearby. These last 10 years or so, Dad's health deteriorated to where he was not able to hunt anymore or participate in the gun clubs.

My nephew took the gun he wanted--which was actually just a BB/pellet pistol (sure looked like the real thing to me! yikes). My husband, who grew close to my father in those later years, sounds like he was more or less adopted by my dad (who so wanted a son, poor guy!). Apparently there's an old 22 that wasn't really worth much, but it had been Dad's dad's, and it was my father's first gun. He wanted my hubby to have it, so we'll take it though we're not really gun people. It's currently disassembled, anyway; my hubby helped Dad take it apart, clean it, and oil it recently.

All of the guns are unloaded.

Mom is game for taking the guns to a dealer; she doesn't want to do anything where she handles the selling of the guns directly.

The Weatherby is a custom--I think it might be the one that was customized left-handed for my southpaw Dad--and it has a gorgeous leather case.

She said that next time hubby and I are out there, we can get in the safe, take pictures, and write down all the serial numbers and such to identify the gun types.

Freakshow, Simi Valley is a good potential link...it's pretty close to her. Once we have more info on what the guns are, we just might be taking the guns there. 20% isn't too bad; when I had some saddles on consignment, it was something like 30-40% (!!). That's when I decided Ebay was a better option for selling the saddles...but notsomuch an option for us here.

Can the ammo be taken to the gun dealer, too?

Thank you everyone, again. Your information has been invaluable. I'll keep you posted--it'll be about a week or so before we get out to my mom's again, but once we have more detail on the guns, I'll be back. Thank you, again!
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Old July 27, 2009, 02:06 PM   #23
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Quote:
Can the ammo be taken to the gun dealer, too?
Do not expect to make anything on old ammo. There are way to many unanswered questions attached to use/old/leftover ammo.
I would think a dealer might take it, but I wouldn't buy it.
Then again with the ammo shortages we are seeing today I might be very wrong
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Old July 27, 2009, 02:11 PM   #24
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Don't think too many shops would buy old ammo. Depending on how much of it there is, it can be an excellent "Thank you" gift if you draft a gun-wise friend into helping you out (maybe his old hunting buddy?).

Then again, ammo can be pretty darn expensive. If he has a large quantity of it (Hundreds or thousands of rounds) it can be worth some pretty serious cash. A lot of rifle rounds go for $1 a pop - couple boxes of 20 and you have something substantial.

I'm glad to hear you're keeping a few legacy pieces. Once they're gone, they're pretty much gone for good.
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Old July 27, 2009, 03:39 PM   #25
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The more "Homework" you can do on what you have, the better it is for you. One possibility is to find a good friend of your father's that you would trust and who shared this interest, who would be willing to assist you. Purchase a current issue of Blue-Book of gun values and know that this is only a guide. As mentioned, do your best to identify each and every firearm. Also, there are credible appraisers that will perform this process for a fee. Take your time as this is an investment your Father left you and wish he had left you some guidance. I am at the age that I have all my stuff documented to assist my wife in the future. She says she is going to keep it all and that's funny but not realistic. I want some jughead to enjoy the guns I have, in the future. "Jughead" Is that profiling??
However, I will be burried with one of my Winchesters. Good luck and let us know how you make out.


Be Safe !!!
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