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Can You Really Buy a Gun Online?

We see a lot of disinformation about gun buying spread online. So much of it that we had to speak up to dispel the lies being circulated. One common falsehood spread by anti-second amendment types and the left is the idea that you can purchase a gun online and simply have it shipped to your home. That's absolutely false.

So can you purchase a gun online? The short answer is yes, you can. But it's not like an Amazon Prime delivery. You're not going to come home to a gun sitting on your porch. It's more complex than that. So let's take a look at the truth about online gun purchases by examining the process we have personally went through, and every legal gun owner will also go through when purchasing a gun.

Why Buy a Gun Online?

Buying a gun or rifle online isn't about trying to circumvent laws and obtain a gun illegally. People buy guns online for the same reasons people shop online for anything else: variety and price comparison. You can walk into a local sporting goods store and purchase a gun, but chances are that your local gun shop will have a limited selection and higher prices than you can find online.

The owner of a gun shop has rent to pay and probably isn't able to purchase items in a high enough volume to pass on cost savings that a larger supplier can. It's just like any other business that needs to maintain a margin to operate and try to guess what will be popular to meet customer demand.

How Do I purchase a Gun Online?

There are plenty of online retailers. A quick search will turn up popular gun sites like Buds Gun Shop or Gunbuyer. We have ordered from both and had nothing but great experiences. Once you have decided on the gun you want, place the order. Sometime before checking out you will be asked where you want your gun shipped. Any online gun purchase must be shipped to an authorized middle man called an FFL dealer.

If this is your first gun purchase, most sites will have a list of authorized individuals and stores that have already been approved to receive online purchases. You can simply choose one close to you. We recommend reaching out to the person after your purchase to let them know - sure they have been through the process many times, but it's nice to introduce yourself. They can also inform you of any fees you will need to pay when completing the purchase.

What is an FFL Dealer?

An FFL dealer is an intermediary who will take possession of your gun and perform the necessary background check before you are allowed to take possession of the firearm. It's important to note that the person receiving your gun has obtained a Federal Firearms license by undergoing a background check as well. The process of becoming an FFL involves an interview with the ATF and other steps, so rest assured that this person is trusted and will not assist you in lying or cheating to obtain a gun illegally.

What Paperwork Do I need to Purchase a Gun?

The FFL will give you a call when your purchase arrives and set up a time for you to come complete the paperwork. Be sure to bring your drivers license as the FFL will need to verify your identity. You will also be asked to complete ATF Form 4473. This is the background check. Answer honestly to all questions because lying is a felony and chances are you'll be denied not only this purchase, but any future gun purchases.

Additionally, bring cash for the transaction fee - the background check costs $10 at the time of this writing and the FFL will charge a fee for their time as well. Expect to pay somewhere between $20 and $40 all said and done. You probably saved enough buying online to cover this cost.

Can I Be Denied My Gun?

Absolutely. When the FFL asks you to complete Form 4473, he then makes a call to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). He may or may not do this in your presence. Either way, the system will provide one of three responses: approve, deny, or delay. You should be aware of your own criminal record and be fairly certain of the outcome here.

In some instances, a delay response is given. This is not a denial. Sometimes names match closely and the NICS/FBI want more time to investigate further. If this happens to you, expect to wait about three days for a final decision. Sometimes this investigation can take longer and if that happens, you do have the right to an appeal. You also have the right to appeal if you are denied your handgun purchase. It can be a lengthy process and it's beyond the scope of this article.


If you choose to purchase a gun in a sporting good store, the process is mostly the same. The only difference is the online portion - you will still complete the same form and background check regardless of where you buy your gun. There just isn't anyway around a legal gun purchase despite what you may hear or read online.

*** Sure some will argue that you can do an individual transfer - but that is between you and a fellow resident of your home state ... and you need to have no reason to believe that the person has any reason to be denied a firearm.

Hopefully we have cleared up some of the confusion around gun purchases, especially when it comes to online gun sales. If you know someone who is misinformed, or intentionally spreading lies about gun buying please share this article with them. We must preserve our second amendment rights, and unfortunately misconceptions and lies tend to become part of public belief.