You’ve decided it’s time for a new handgun, but a few nagging thoughts are keeping you from clicking that check-out button…
What if the weapon is faulty? How can you be sure of the quality? Is it even legal to buy guns online? If you’ve ever seen one of the cringeworthy expectation versus reality posts of one of the unfortunate people who ordered something from Wish, you understand why purchasing a handgun online can seem risky.
We’re here to tell you if it really is as risky as it seems and what to know before you commit.
The truth about buying guns online
After spending a whole pandemic shopping online, we’ve become used to the convenience of shopping from the comfort of home. Firearms are no different. While the lack of overhead costs may make buying a gun online work out cheaper than in-store, the main benefit is access to a bigger selection of the best brands.
There are also some concerns over whether buying a gun is legal or not. However, the Gun Control Act of 1968 ensures that the internet marketplace for guns is highly regulated. While certain individuals take advantage of loopholes to purchase illegal weapons, buying a gun online is not one of those loopholes.
So, what do you need to know before you buy a handgun online? Here are seven essentials:
- 1. Homework is important
Whether you’re buying in-store or online, you’re still investing in a (hopefully) lifelong firearm. It’s important to know what type of gun and caliber you’re looking for before starting your search. Beyond this, you also need to establish that you’re buying from a reputable online firearm dealer. Read the reviews on their site, get familiar with their processes, and look them up on Trustpilot for unbiased reviews.
- 2. Your firearm won’t be delivered to you
Don’t expect your gun to show up at your doorstep a few days after purchase. To avoid safety risks with severe consequences, anyone who purchases a gun online needs to pick it up from a local dealer with a Federal Firearms License (FFL). You can locate your nearest FFL here or just go to any reputable gun store in your area. You also have the option of setting your FFL pickup before ordering to speed the process a little.
- 3. You still need a background check
As we’ve mentioned, still buying a weapon = still have to adhere to general rules. The FFL you choose will conduct a background check on you to ensure everything is in order. This is standard procedure when purchasing a weapon. Some conditions may make you ineligible to receive your new firearm, like past convictions or the unlawful use of substances. However, if you’ve lived a lawful life, you won’t encounter problems here.
- 4. Specific state firearms laws apply
Even if you purchase a firearm online, it falls under the jurisdiction of your specific state. Depending on your state, you may need to register your firearm or adhere to certain concealed carry rules. It’s best to familiarize yourself with the state laws where you wish to keep your firearm.
- 5. No ordering for others
Forget about surprise gifts or asking your friend to buy a gun online for you. All orders for firearms must be placed by the actual recipient. Additionally, you can only purchase a handgun if you are at least 21 years of age.
- 6. Once accepted, the transfer is final
It’s exciting when all the paperwork is done and you finally get to hold that new firearm in your hands. Just don’t let the moment distract you from doing a proper inspection. Once you accept the transfer, the sale is final, so inspect the gun for damaged parts before you run for the range. If you detect any issues, refuse the transfer and alert your FFL. Any reputable dealer will replace the firearm at no extra cost.
- 7. Training is always a good idea
Congratulations! You’re a gun owner! Make sure you’re one of the best ones with continued training. Your FFL can provide all the answers on how to clean, disassemble, and wear your new handgun. But any progress you make towards becoming a better shot after that is up to you.
At the end of the day, whether you choose to buy a handgun online or in-store, it comes down to making an informed decision that’s right for you. Fortunately, there are endless articles and podcasts available to ensure you walk away with a firearm you’re proud of.
Rene Aguirre is the founder and owner of Bravo Concealment. Rene has been carrying concealed on a daily basis for over 8 years and has been a CHL (concealed handgun license) holder for more than 20 years. Finding a high interest in firearms for many years, Rene started Bravo because of the “lack of” a good concealed carry holster.
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Is purchasing a gun through Guns.com good? They have you pick up the gun at a FFL gunstore near you. Would it be better to just go to the gun store instead and check out the gun?
The biggest problem with buying online is the restrictions imposed by states. In my case, I cannot buy the firearms that I want because they are not allowed for purchase unless they are on the states “handgun roster”, and of course the one that I want is not! I keep hoping that someday, there will be a national effort to provide uniform rules for the industry, but I am not going to hold my breath of course. I think the one thing that might actually gain some traction one day is a reciprocity rule that would allow an owner to transport firearms without fear of jailing and confiscation of their firearms like is common in the anti-gun states like Illinois and others.