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Old July 18, 2012, 07:34 AM   #1
Kimio
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Is it legal to mail a personally owned firearm?

This may sound silly, but if I want to have my friend who's hanging onto my rifle send it to me, will he need to go through an FFL and have it sent to someone with an FFL near me, or is it possible for him to mail it to me normally?

I'm pretty sure you he'll have to go through an FFL to legally have it sent to me, but I'm not entirely sure, and google searches have not yielded a satisfactory answer. (I'm probably wording the question poorly)
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Old July 18, 2012, 07:41 AM   #2
Willie Sutton
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Short answer: If HE has custody of it, it is NOT yours. You have transferred it to him. If you want him to ship HIS firearm to you, it needs to be done thru a FFL, and you will be required to do a transfer at that FFL just like any other buyer.

There is no such thing as "loaning" or "storing with a friend" in the firearms laws. When you left it in the custody of another person it was legally the same as selling it to him (from a firearms law standpoint).


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Old July 18, 2012, 08:34 AM   #3
Kimio
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Thank you, so I will have to have it shipped through an FFL in order to have it legally "transferred" to me correct?
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Old July 18, 2012, 09:00 AM   #4
Mike38
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Quote:
Thank you, so I will have to have it shipped through an FFL in order to have it legally "transferred" to me correct?
Not through an FFL, to an FFL. The FFL will have to be on your end, not your friend’s end. The gun now belongs to your friend. It’s like you are buying it from him. He has to send it to an FFL near you. You will have to fill out the proper forms, and go through the back ground check just like you were buying it for the first time.

At least that’s how I understand it. I could be wrong.
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Old July 18, 2012, 09:37 AM   #5
oneounceload
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Is this interstate or intrastate?

Intrastate, I have mailed rifles to individuals. Interstate, I have to send to his FFL
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Old July 18, 2012, 10:51 AM   #6
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The only time that I can think of, when you can legally ship firearms interstate without using an FFL, is when you are shipping them to yourself.

I.e.: You are going on a hunting trip to Montana, but certain circumstances preclude you from traveling with the firearm(s). You can legally ship the firearm(s) to yourself at the destination. The ATF's suggestion for the recipient's (your temporary) address is in the form of:
YOU
in care of Joe's Hunting Service
843 Hunting Lodge Road
Destination, MT 59998
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Old July 18, 2012, 06:33 PM   #7
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You can also ship interstate without going through an FFL when you ship a firearm back to the manufacturer for repair, and when they ship it back to you. (Although maybe the law considers the manufacturer to an FFL, I don't know about that.) I recently returned a modern revolver directly to Smith and Wesson using a prepaid shipping label that they sent me. When they finished the repair, it was shipped back to me without going through an FFL at my end.
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Old July 18, 2012, 06:42 PM   #8
Frank Ettin
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Originally Posted by cjwils
You can also ship interstate without going through an FFL when you ship a firearm back to the manufacturer for repair, and when they ship it back to you. (Although maybe the law considers the manufacturer to an FFL, I don't know about that.)...
The only reason that you could legally do that is because the manufacturer has an FFL. Gunsmiths also have FFLs.

And they can ship the gun back to you directly because they have FFLs and the law specifically permits it.
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Old July 18, 2012, 06:47 PM   #9
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The only reason that you could legally do that is because the manufacturer has an FFL. Gunsmiths also have FFLs.

And they can ship the gun back to you directly because they have FFLs and the law specifically permits it.
True, and in the case of the manufacturer, they can ship directly to your door even if they replace your defective gun with a new one of the same "kind and type".
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Old July 19, 2012, 09:20 AM   #10
Kimio
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Thank you everyone, that clears things up a lot. Good to know so that I don't get tossed into the clink or fined big time for money that I simply don't have at the moment lol.
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Old July 19, 2012, 08:49 PM   #11
wally626
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There is no such thing as "loaning" or "storing with a friend" in the firearms laws. When you left it in the custody of another person it was legally the same as selling it to him (from a firearms law standpoint).
You can loan someone a gun for sporting purposes who is not a resident of your state, but that does not apply to storage of course, and even in the case of a loan you could not ship it directly back to the owner.
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Old July 19, 2012, 11:13 PM   #12
Willie Sutton
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"You can loan someone a gun for sporting purposes who is not a resident of your state"


That means "hand it to him, let him shoot it, and get it back on the spot".

This has nothing to do with:

(A) leaving it behind for <days, weeks, months, years>

or

(B) the question posed by the OP.


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Old July 19, 2012, 11:29 PM   #13
Frank Ettin
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To expand a bit on what Willie Sutton wrote and provide citations:

18 USC 922(a)(5) prohibits a resident of one State from transferring, selling, trading, giving, transporting, or delivering any firearm to any person who the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe lives in another State. But the statute makes an exception for a temporary loan or rental of a gun for a lawful sporting purpose. So if your buddy is visiting you from another State, you may loan him a gun so he can go target shooting or hunting with. Or an outfitter may rent a gun to a client from another State to participate in a guided hunt.

But 18 USC 922(a)(3) prohibits any person from transporting into or receiving in the State where he lives a gun obtained in another State. There's no exception here for a loan.

So for example, you can loan your buddy visiting here from another State a gun, but he can't take it home with him (nor could you ship a gun to him in his home State "on loan"). Your letting him take the loaned gun home to another State, or you making an interstate loan, would violate 18 USC 922(a)(3).
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Old July 20, 2012, 03:27 AM   #14
MarkDozier
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Quote:
prohibits any person from transporting into or receiving in the State where he lives a gun obtained in another State
This is an incomplete cite. I can go to almost any state and buy a long gun and bring it home with me.
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Old July 20, 2012, 06:38 AM   #15
Frank Ettin
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Originally Posted by MarkDozier
This is an incomplete cite. I can go to almost any state and buy a long gun and bring it home with me.
And that is inaccurate, because the transfer must still go through an FFL and must comply with the laws of the State in which the transferee resides as well as the laws of the State in which the transfer takes place (18 USC 922(b)(3)).

Since you want the whole federal law story on interstate transfers of firearms (not including the rules for those with Curio and Relic licenses and the subject of dual residency), here it is:

[1] Under federal law, any transfer (with a few, narrow exceptions, e. g., by bequest under a will) from a resident of one State to a resident of another must be through an FFL. The transfer must comply with all the requirements of the State in which the transfer is being done as well as all federal formalities (e. g., completion of a 4473, etc.).

[2] In the case of handguns, it must be an FFL in the transferee's State of residence. You may obtain a handgun in a State other than your State of residence, BUT it must be shipped by the transferor to an FFL in your State of residence to transfer the handgun to you.

[3] In the case of long guns, it may be any FFL as long as (1) the long gun is legal in the transferee's State of residence; and (2) the transfer complies with the laws of the State in which it takes place; and (3) the transfer complies with the law of the transferee's State of residence.

[4] In connection with the transfer of a long gun, some FFLs will not want to handle the transfer to a resident of another State, because they may be uncertain about the laws of that State. And if the transferee resides in some States (e. g., California), the laws of the State may be such that an out-of-state FFL will not be able to conduct a transfer that complies.

[5] There are no exceptions under the applicable federal laws for gifts, whether between relatives or otherwise, nor is there any exception for transactions between relatives.

[6] The relevant federal laws may be found at: 18 USC 922(a)(3); 18 USC 922(a)(5); and 18 USC 922(b)(3).

Here's what the statutes say:
Quote:
18 U.S.C. 922. Unlawful acts

(a) It shall be unlawful—
...

(3) for any person, other than a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector to transport into or receive in the State where he resides (or if the person is a corporation or other business entity, the State where it maintains a place of business) any firearm purchased or otherwise obtained by such person outside that State, except that this paragraph
(A) shall not preclude any person who lawfully acquires a firearm by bequest or intestate succession in a State other than his State of residence from transporting the firearm into or receiving it in that State, if it is lawful for such person to purchase or possess such firearm in that State,

(B) shall not apply to the transportation or receipt of a firearm obtained in conformity with subsection (b)(3) of this section, and (C) shall not apply to the transportation of any firearm acquired in any State prior to the effective date of this chapter;
...

(5) for any person (other than a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector) to transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver any firearm to any person (other than a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector) who the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe does not reside in (or if the person is a corporation or other business entity, does not maintain a place of business in) the State in which the transferor resides; except that this paragraph shall not apply to
(A) the transfer, transportation, or delivery of a firearm made to carry out a bequest of a firearm to, or an acquisition by intestate succession of a firearm by, a person who is permitted to acquire or possess a firearm under the laws of the State of his residence, and

(B) the loan or rental of a firearm to any person for temporary use for lawful sporting purposes;
....

(b) It shall be unlawful for any licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector to sell or deliver --
...

(3) any firearm to any person who the licensee knows or has reasonable cause to believe does not reside in (or if the person is a corporation or other business entity, does not maintain a place of business in) the State in which the licensee's place of business is located, except that this paragraph
(A) shall not apply to the sale or delivery of any rifle or shotgun to a resident of a State other than a State in which the licensee's place of business is located if the transferee meets in person with the transferor to accomplish the transfer, and the sale, delivery, and receipt fully comply with the legal conditions of sale in both such States (and any licensed manufacturer, importer or dealer shall be presumed, for purposes of this subparagraph, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to have had actual knowledge of the State laws and published ordinances of both States), and

(B) shall not apply to the loan or rental of a firearm to any person for temporary use for lawful sporting purposes;
...
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Old July 20, 2012, 07:42 AM   #16
Willie Sutton
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Thanks Frank.

Real world example of "loans for sporting purposes".

A friend of mine from England wanted to take a 250 course at Gunsite. I offer him the loan of my old 1911 as well as mags, holster, etc. How do we do this? He's a non resident alien, and cannot be the recipient of a transfer of a firearm.

Answer: I ship the old Colt to Gunsite, who receives it as a FFL. They do some tune up work and then they put it in their vault. When my friend comes to Gunsite, he is issued the .45 *on a daily basis* to shoot on the ranges, and at the end of the day he returns it to Cory and it gets put back into the safe. He does NOT take it to the motel at night, he does NOT carry it off of the range for lunch, and he most certainly does NOT mail it back to me after his course is done.

At the end of the course, the FFL returns it to me via FEDEX. This is legal as the FFL is held as a Gunsmith and the shipment is back to the original owner. As for gunsmithing, I had a new ejector installed and a loose front sight re silver-soldered on at the Smithy before it was "rigorously test fired" by my friend taking the 250.


That's a "Loan" for sporting purposes.


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Last edited by Willie Sutton; July 20, 2012 at 07:48 AM.
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Old July 20, 2012, 07:58 AM   #17
Come and take it.
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I am sure an ffl would be required if there is a transfer of ownership, but I thought it was legal to ship the firearm without intent to transfer, so long as it is made inert by shipping the gun without the bolt if its a rifle, without a cylinder if its a revolver or without the slide if its a pistol. and the remaining peice shipped seperately.

At least that is how most firearm companies ask you to ship your firearm to them for repairs. and how they send it back to you.
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Old July 20, 2012, 10:43 AM   #18
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Come and take it.
...I thought it was legal to ship the firearm without intent to transfer, so long as it is made inert by shipping the gun without the bolt if its a rifle, without a cylinder if its a revolver or without the slide if its a pistol. and the remaining peice shipped seperately. ...
Don't know why you would think that.

[1] Shipping the gun is a transfer. Transfer means a change of possession, not just ownership. Note that the federal statutes refer to --
  • Transporting or receiving any firearm obtained outside one's State of residence (18 USC 922(a)(3)). So that's not limited to changes of ownership.

  • And transferring, selling, trading, giving, transporting, or delivering any firearm to someone you know or have reasonable cause to believe does not reside in the State in which you reside (18 USC 922(a)(5)). So that's not limited to changes of ownership.
[2] Under federal law, the frame/receiver alone is legally the firearm. Even a stripped frame must be treated the same as an assembled, functional gun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Come and take it.
...At least that is how most firearm companies ask you to ship your firearm to them for repairs. and how they send it back to you.
Over the years I've shipped a lot of guns to gunsmiths for work. Not one has ever asked it to be shipped that way, nor returned it to me that way.
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Old July 20, 2012, 11:02 AM   #19
DrBundy
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I am sure an ffl would be required if there is a transfer of ownership, but I thought it was legal to ship the firearm without intent to transfer, so long as it is made inert by shipping the gun without the bolt if its a rifle, without a cylinder if its a revolver or without the slide if its a pistol. and the remaining peice shipped seperately.

At least that is how most firearm companies ask you to ship your firearm to them for repairs. and how they send it back to you.
<emphasis mine>

Springfield Armory, Smith & Wesson, Taurus, and Rock Island Armory never once asked me to do this for warranty or smithing work.
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Old July 20, 2012, 11:41 AM   #20
Barber2678
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Quote:
I am sure an ffl would be required if there is a transfer of ownership, but I thought it was legal to ship the firearm without intent to transfer, so long as it is made inert by shipping the gun without the bolt if its a rifle, without a cylinder if its a revolver or without the slide if its a pistol. and the remaining peice shipped seperately.

At least that is how most firearm companies ask you to ship your firearm to them for repairs. and how they send it back to you.
I have never heard anything even remotely similar to this.
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Old July 20, 2012, 11:59 AM   #21
Come and take it.
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north american arms did for me once it has been a good many years ago though. Maybe laws are stricter or more enforced now or something.
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Old July 20, 2012, 01:07 PM   #22
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Come and take it.
north american arms did for me once it has been a good many years ago though. Maybe laws are stricter or more enforced now or something.
Nonetheless, I hope you now understand that your original notion was incorrect and that you understand what the correct rules are.
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