What You Should Know About Local Laws Regarding Gun Sales

So, you’ve got a gun you no longer need or want, and you’d like to put it up for sale online. Seems like it would be simple and pretty straight-forward, right?

For selling firearms online, you’ve got the option of a few dedicated platforms. Think of them like eBay, but for guns. You can list your firearms, set your price or even auction them off.

As far as verifying the buyer, that’s crucial. You have a legal and ethical responsibility to make sure you’re not selling firearms to felons, mentally unstable individuals, or minors.

Vetting the Buyer When Selling a Firearm Online

Montana’s gun laws are some of the most lenient in all the United States.  Residents of Montana are allowed to own and possess firearms without a registration, permit or license.  This permissive attitude extends to residents of Montana only.  Non-residents cannot purchase firearms in Montana without being properly verified as legally responsible individuals.  

A lot of online gun selling platforms offer user ratings or feedback systems that can help you judge who you’re dealing with. But that’s just the first step. The Federal law requires that interstate firearm sales must be handled by licensed dealers. Montana’s State laws may be relaxed compared to the remainder of the United States, residents are still responsible for following the strict Federal laws in place when it comes to selling guns online, and sending those firearms over State lines.

Basically, if you’re shipping a gun across state lines, it cannot be mailed directly to the buyer’s front door. Instead, the gun has to be shipped to a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) – someone legally allowed to act sort of like a middleman in these transactions. These folks are responsible for running background checks on the buyer before handing over the firearm. So, you don’t have to stress too much about that part, the FFL holder has got your back.

Step-By-Step – Selling a Gun Online

  1. List your firearm online. 
  2. Find a buyer. Double-check their reputation if the platform allows for that.
  3. The buyer provides you with the details of their local FFL holder. 
  4. You contact that FFL holder and arrange for the firearms transfer. They’ll provide you with all the shipping labels and documentation you need.
  5. Once your firearm arrives at the FFL holder, they’ll carry out the necessary background checks before finally handing over the firearm.

Just one thing to keep in mind when learning how to sell a gun online, this process isn’t usually free. There’s typically a transfer fee involved. But generally, the buyer takes care of it. 

Regulations for legal gun transactions are in place for the safety of all involved, and they do require a few extra steps. Selling a gun online is a bit different than selling your old DVD player, but it’s really not too complicated.

Once You’ve Sold Your Gun Online, It’s Time to Ship it Properly

Now, let’s talk about the shipping part. Firearms can’t just be mailed through USPS unless you’re a licensed dealer or manufacturer. But as a non-licensed individual, you can ship rifles and shotguns with USPS. In short, just because Montana is casual when it comes to openly carrying a gun in public for individuals as young as 14 years old (with parental consent and responsible authority), you still have to follow proper nation-wide laws about proper packaging and shipping.  Here, again, is another reason to sell a firearm with the assistance of an FFL expert.

Firearms should ideally be sent by Priority Mail Express or Registered Mail for added security.

Larger companies like FedEx or UPS are also options. Their policies allow for shipment of firearms between licensed parties. But you’d need to stick to their rules. For example, with UPS, firearms must be shipped using an overnight service.

Remember to pack your firearm securely. It’s a good idea to invest in a hard case designed for firearm transport, padding the interior, and ensuring the gun is immobilized.

Notify the shipping company that there is a firearm in the package. Everyone would much rather stay on the right side of the law – it’s just tidier that way. Marking the package contents clearly is important, just make sure the box doesn’t scream “Hey, there’s a firearm in here!” That’s a surefire way to attract thieves, and some shipping companies won’t send a box that’s an obvious target. 

Lastly, get insurance. If that firearm is lost or damaged in shipping, insurance can mean the difference between getting your money back or being out of luck.

A Word of Wisdom When Selling a Gun Online

One more piece of advice – document everything. From communication between you and the buyer, to paperwork from FFLs, shipping documents, everything. In the unlikely event something does go wrong, this will help you out greatly.  

Montana’s laws about responsible gun ownership are so relaxed that unconcealed guns can be openly carried on college and university campuses, and if we’ve learned anything from attending college it’s to keep detailed notes about every single step of the transaction. 

Selling firearms isn’t for everyone. If the idea of sorting through all these rules makes you anxious, it might be worth it to just work with a local gun store or pawn shop to sell your firearm on commission. It might eat into your profits a little, but it could save you some significant headaches.