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Old August 20, 2014, 11:52 PM   #1
Lee Enfield
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Out of state purchase, ship to FFL gunsmith for customization, ship to me direct?

Hi all,

As the title suggests, am I allowed to purchase a rifle out of state, then have it sent directly to a gunsmith (also out of state) with the appropriate FFL for customization, then have the rifle sent to me directly? The gunsmith receives a rifle that has become mine from the original owner, customizes it, and sends what's already mine to me directly from out of state.

I know it's different if the gunsmith were to sell me a rifle directly, which isn't allowed since I do not have an FFL. And, I'm assuming that the gunsmith acting as the FFL to receive the rifle from the original owner is ok.

To me, it sounds like a variation of purchasing a rifle and having it sent to an FFL dealer, from whom I would pick it up from.

Just making sure there's no problem with this.

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by Lee Enfield; August 21, 2014 at 12:13 AM.
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Old August 21, 2014, 12:19 AM   #2
johnwilliamson062
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I can't tell you for sure it isn't legal, but I don't think it would be. To begin with I believe the gunsmith is only allowed to return the firearm to the address/person it was received from in the first place. If this were legal we would have a thread called "What's the gunsmith loopohole?"
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Old August 21, 2014, 01:03 AM   #3
Tom Servo
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Nope. He'll have to ship it to a licensee in your state, at which point that licensee will transfer it to you.

There's no "loophole." Gunsmiths are subject to the same rules as everybody else.
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Old August 21, 2014, 01:09 AM   #4
Lee Enfield
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So, would it be ok if I purchase a rifle, have it sent to me directly, then send it off to be customized?

Similarly, after sending it off for a repair done out of state, would I have to go through an FFL licensee in my state, or can it be sent directly to me? Would repairs and customizations fall under the same rule?

By the way, I'm not looking for a loophole.

I'm trying to understand these rules. I was thinking out logically, but what I think is logical (though it may not be logical) and what the technicalities of the law are can be very different.
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Old August 21, 2014, 01:14 AM   #5
FrankenMauser
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If you ship the rifle to a gunsmith, they can ship it back directly to you.
But, if it passes through anyone else in the process, it has to go through an FFL* to be transferred back to you.

*The FFL doesn't, necessarily, have to be in your state; but the state that they're in has to be a legal state from which to transfer a rifle under your state's law. Either way, you have to be there for the background check and transfer, in person.
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Old August 21, 2014, 01:18 AM   #6
Lee Enfield
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Thanks, FrankenMauser. That makes sense. I was thinking it would be very cumbersome and illogical to directly ship a rifle to a gunsmith out of state and have it go through an FFL in my state every time I wanted repairs or small mods. That clears it up.

I would just have to go through an FFL for all original purchases of rifles.
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Old August 21, 2014, 01:18 AM   #7
Tom Servo
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Quote:
So, would it be ok if I purchase a rifle, have it sent to me directly, then send it off to be customized?
If it's going across state lines, it has to be received by an FFL. They cannot send it to you directly.

Quote:
Similarly, after sending it off for a repair done out of state, would I have to go through an FFL licensee in my state, or can it be sent directly to me?
In that case, the gunsmith can send it directly back to you. He may insist on shipping to an FFL to be on the safe side, though.

This is federal law. Your state laws may vary.

[Derp. Frankenmauser beat me to it.]
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Old August 21, 2014, 01:21 AM   #8
Lee Enfield
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Thanks Tom, it's always nice to have confirmation from multiple sources.
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Old August 21, 2014, 06:05 AM   #9
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I don't know if this is how it is supposed to work or not, but when I had a sccy pistol, I had to send it back to factory several times. they just shipped the gun right back to me with UPS, I had to sign for it.
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Old August 21, 2014, 11:48 AM   #10
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Enfield
....am I allowed to purchase a rifle out of state,...
This is something that a lot of folks seem to not fully understand, so let me outline it this way -- the only way one may legally, under federal law, purchase a rifle in a State other than his State of residence is if:
  1. The rifle is legal in his State of residence; and

  2. It is transferred to him by an FFL; and

  3. The transfer by the FFL complies with federal law, the law of the State in which the transfer takes place, and the law of the buyer's State of residence.
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Old August 22, 2014, 09:25 AM   #11
natman
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Quote:
I was thinking out logically
That's the problem right there. What you propose makes sense, but it's not allowed.

The simplest thing to do is have the out-of-state seller send it to a local FFL and take possession of it after filling out the 4473. I'd want to inspect it before it was modified anyway. Then ship it to the gunsmith, who can ship it back to you.
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Old August 22, 2014, 11:07 AM   #12
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When sending stuff off for custom work you can ship it directly AFAIK to the smith and he can send it back directly to you. (the gun never changes ownership It is always yours and doesn't need to be rechecked.

That said (feel free to correct if wrong) I ALWAYS ship my guns from my favorite FFL. It makes me feel alot better knowing that he is experienced in dealing with such matters if a problem arises.

It doesn't mark my address as a point of origin... It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out if you are getting packages from S&W that its likely that address has firearms.

And the last main thing. He is always there to receive his shipments. I've had a delivery driver just leave a boxed firearm on my front steps for several hours while I was away. That just makes me uncomfortable.
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Old August 22, 2014, 11:32 AM   #13
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Venom1956
When sending stuff off for custom work you can ship it directly AFAIK to the smith and he can send it back directly to you. (the gun never changes ownership It is always yours and doesn't need to be rechecked. ...
"Change of ownership" really doesn't have anything to do with it. A gunsmith needs to have an FFL, and a licensee shipping the gun, after repair, back directly to the person from whom it was received falls within a specific exception under federal law generally prohibiting shipment directly to a non-licensee (18 USC 922(a)(2)(A)).
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Old August 22, 2014, 11:50 AM   #14
carguychris
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Ettin
"Change of ownership" really doesn't have anything to do with it. A gunsmith needs to have an FFL, and a licensee shipping the gun, after repair, back directly to the person from whom it was received falls within a specific exception under federal law generally prohibiting shipment directly to a non-licensee (18 USC 922(a)(2)(A)).
Additionally, the FFL is NOT required to execute a Form 4473 when the "firearm or a replacement firearm is returned to the person from whom received" [27 CFR § 478.124(a)].

Note that both exceptions require that the firearm be returned to the person from whom [it was] received; there is no apparent allowance for someone else to act as an intermediary. Accordingly, if a FFL returns a repaired or customized firearm to another party, the exceptions no longer apply; the transaction must be treated as a standard transfer.
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Last edited by carguychris; August 22, 2014 at 01:43 PM. Reason: minor reword, clarification
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Old August 22, 2014, 12:51 PM   #15
Venom1956
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Of course the Gunsmith needs an FFL im just saying because it was your gun in the first place it doesnt need to return to you through another FFL its already yours not a 'new gun'
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Old August 22, 2014, 12:55 PM   #16
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Venom1956
Of course the Gunsmith needs an FFL im just saying because it was your gun in the first place it doesnt need to return to you through another FFL its already yours not a 'new gun'
But your reasoning and presumptions are incorrect. This has nothing to do with ownership, it has everything to do with what the ATF legally considers a transfer.

Ownership is irrelevant.
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Old August 22, 2014, 01:32 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Venom1956
...im just saying because it was your gun in the first place it doesnt need to return to you through another FFL its already yours...
And Brian, carguychris and I are correcting you. You don't have the reason correct.

When dealing with legal issues one needs to understand the right reasons for a result. Otherwise he will apply incorrect reasoning to a different situation and get things wrong, and that could get him into a lot of trouble.
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Old August 22, 2014, 01:45 PM   #18
Venom1956
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how is it incorrect? a transfer means transfer of ownership. The ATF doesn't consider sending a gun in for work or repair as a transfer. that is why it can be returned directly to you? unless the repair requires a new serialized part then it must go to your local ffl?

Now i am just looking for clarification.
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Old August 22, 2014, 02:34 PM   #19
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Venom1956
...a transfer means transfer of ownership...
That is incorrect.
  1. Courts will look at the meaning of the exact words use in the statute, and to understand that meaning, they will often look a the dictionary. See Perrin v. United States, 444 U.S. 37 (United States Supreme Court, 1979), at 42:
    Quote:
    ...A fundamental canon of statutory construction is that, unless otherwise defined, words will be interpreted as taking their ordinary, contemporary, common meaning...
  2. A "transfer" is a change of possession -- not ownership. The federal laws I've cited in the past are about possession.

    1. Possession means:
      Quote:
      1 a : the act of having or taking into control...
      If you have something in your hands, you have it, control it, and therefore possession of it.

    2. Transfer is about possession, not ownership.

      Some definitions of "transfer" (emphasis added):

      • http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/transfer:
        Quote:
        ...Transfer encompasses the sale and every other method, direct or indirect, of (1) disposing of property or an interest therein or possession thereof;...
      • http://www.thefreedictionary.com/transferred:
        Quote:
        2. Law To make over the possession or legal title of; convey.
      • http://law.yourdictionary.com/transfer:
        Quote:
        Any and every method of removing something from one person or place to another; specifically, the handing over of possession or control of assets or title. ...
      • So if you hand (or ship) something to someone, you have relinquished possession of that thing and given (transferred) possession of that thing to someone else.

    3. Let's look at the statutes:

      1. 18 USC 922(a)(3), which provides in pertinent part as follows (emphasis added):
        Quote:
        (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 ...any firearm purchased or otherwise obtained by such person outside that State,...
      2. And 18 USC 922(a)(5), which provides in pertinent part (emphasis added) as follows:
        Quote:
        (a) It shall be unlawful—
        ...

        (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 ... the State in which the transferor resides..;

    4. Note carefully the words of those statutes. Words, like "transport", "receive", "obtained", "transfer", "give", "transport", and "deliver" do not necessarily imply ownership and include possession.

  3. Now let's look at 18 USC 922(a)(2), which provides in pertinent part (emphasis added)

    Quote:
    (a) It shall be unlawful—

    (2) for any importer, manufacturer, dealer, or collector licensed under the provisions of this chapter to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce any firearm to any person other than a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector, except that—
    (A) this paragraph...shall not be held to preclude a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector from returning a firearm or replacement firearm of the same kind and type to a person from whom it was received;...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Venom1956
...Now i am just looking for clarification.
To understand these sorts of things you need to read the actual laws and do the research. If you just try to reason things out without the necessary foundation, you will get things wrong.
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Old August 22, 2014, 02:36 PM   #20
Venom1956
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ahhh. got it. so much simpler then trying to puzzle it out. Thanks.

I apologize for any confusion I caused.
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