How To Buy A Gun Online – Myth vs. Fact


According to an article in the Washington Examiner, Former President Barak Obama was quoted saying, “And some of you may be aware our gun laws in the United States don’t make much sense. Anybody can buy any weapon any time.” He goes on to say, “You know, without much, if any, regulation, they can buy it over the internet, they can buy machine guns.” There are a lot of people on social media and traditional media right now saying that too many guns are getting into the hands of bad individuals through “Loopholes,” one of which, they believe, is purchasing online. The quote from Former President Obama is a perfect illustration of how they feel about gun regulations in this great country. However, those of us that are in the industry or are just enthusiast know that couldn’t be further from the truth.

A lack of knowledge on the part of gun control advocates is evident in statements just like these. They have no idea how firearm sales work or what regulations are already in place. You cannot just buy a gun online and have it shipped to your home without any background check or regulations like you would a new sweatshirt. There is much more to it, and background checks do occur for legitimate gun sales. Are there back-alley gun sales and straw purchases happening? Yes. Those are illegal acts made by criminals. More regulations won’t change that fact. It is the ability for a legal US citizen to exercise their right that comes into question when these statements are made.

Recent comments from people I’ve talked to in public has prompted this article. It seems some education is needed for those not in the gun industry. Here is some information to help educate those that don’t realize the regulations for online gun sales plus a few places for those nervous about the idea of venturing into this digital foray. It is both safe and completely compliant with all state laws.


Online sales have been growing for years. People like the idea of sitting in the comfort of their home shopping for good deals from across the country. They don’t have to brave the hustle and bustle of the malls and big department stores. They can buy anything from groceries to vehicles online and have it sent to their door. Online firearm sales are just a natural progression for the industry. I’ve recently written an article on good deals and websites to make online ammo purchases.

There are also multitudes of places to get the newest and greatest accessories for their firearms. Why not the gun itself? Some businesses have better buying power, giving them better prices. You shouldn’t have to miss those savings just because you don’t live near that particular dealer. While guns are regulated and always require background checks, by Federal and State Law, at the end of the day, they are tools. Just like any other tool, those that purchase them want to get the best deal. Is it right to force the purchaser to pay a higher price or be subject to what the gun dealer can get in stock for their options? No.

Some states do add regulations to particular firearms. Things like magazine capacity or firearm style are restricted in some states due to that state’s laws. In the world of online gun sales, these state’s regulations are known and taken into consideration. This means that a gun, like an AR, cannot be sold to states like New York or California because their laws prohibit it. This regulation is double-checked by both the website that sells the firearm and the gun store that does the transfer. Meaning in states with strict gun laws, an individual is still regulated two times over before reaching the customer. Simply put, if they aren’t allowed to have it in their state, they won’t be able to buy it online, either.


This brings us to the “How.” How does an individual make an online purchase? The first step is fairly straight forward, find the gun you are looking for on a website you can trust. There are a ton of sites out there, and we’ll get into those places in a bit. Once you find the firearm of your desires, the purchase portion is as easy as any other online purchase. Put in a credit card, along with billing and shipping information, then hit the “Buy” button. While the actual exchange of money is as easy as any other purchase that is where the similarities end.

Unlike other online purchases, guns will not have the same billing and shipping addresses. Firearms must be shipped to a Federal Firearms License dealer (FFL). Because it is still a firearm purchase the 4473 (the standard ATF firearm purchase form) must still be filled out, and the state required background check must be done. If it is a state that requires additional documentation, like a waiting period or FOIC (Firearm Owner Identification Card), then those requirements must be met as well. If the gun in question is one that the state regulates or prohibits, then the sale will be denied, and the firearm returned to the seller. (In case the seller didn’t deny the sale right off the bat.) When an individual makes an online purchase, they have to put in the information of the FFL they wish to pick it up from, including contact information. Most times, this is a local mom and pop shop that is close by the gun owner and has treated the customer well. The customer tells the FFL that the firearm is coming to them and where it was purchased from. The seller contacts the FFL to ensure that they are indeed an FFL by getting a copy of that dealer’s license sent to them. The local dealer waits on the firearm to be delivered then contacts the customer. The customer comes in at that time to do the requisite paperwork and background check. Customarily the buyer pays a transfer fee to the FFL dealer they pick the gun up from. I’ve seen this fee run from $25 to $65, depending on the dealer. It could cost less or more depending on your local dealer.


Now let’s compare this to what a firearm purchaser must go through to make the purchase local. The customer searches his local stores to find the gun in question and the best price that he or she can afford. Once a decision has been made, they make the purchase. They go through the state’s required background documentation and the Federal 4473. Once the requirements have been met, the firearm can be disposed of and released to the customer. In other words, the customer has to do the same required steps to legally purchase the firearm whether they bought it online or locally. However, online they may get it for a better price or get the gun that their local dealers don’t like to stock. Online purchases don’t usurp any federal or state regulations; just give the buyer a chance to get a better deal or get a hard to find firearm.


Personally, my online purchases have been made directly from a manufacturer for me to get a gun my local dealers didn’t have a market for. They were hard to find guns, that was entirely legal for me to buy and were picked up from a legitimate FFL with the appropriate 4473 paperwork attached. If I can, I like to give my business to local shops, but sometimes that isn’t logical or feasible. I’m not rich, after all. I’ve searched and made purchases online for guns, parts, and accessories for firearms over the years. It is a great way to get the products I want; local guys don’t know about or carry.

I haven’t come across any website that I don’t necessarily trust, but I’m sure they are out there. If you have decided to make an online purchase, don’t fear that the purchase will prove to be a poor decision or carry poor customer service. Many websites are just as proficient with their purchases as your local shops, maybe more so depending on your local guys. I have a few that I talk about quite a bit in my writing, simply because they have been around for a while and proven themselves to be very trustworthy. Here are my favorites and what I expect to see on their websites. Hopefully, these will give you an excellent place to start.

Brownells – Traditionally known for parts and supplies this company has been around for many decades. Their online sales are just a natural progression of the service they provide. Recently they have started a line of long guns based on a “retro” design. Designed off of popular styles from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s; they have a full line of rifles that will meet the needs of someone looking to get a piece of nostalgia with modern manufacturing techniques. They also carry an extensive line of popular handguns, rifles, and shotguns in all types and styles.

Rainier Arms – Based out of Washington State, I’d had the pleasure of working with their owner for years in the firearms industry. I can tell you he has an eye for quality and drive for customer service. They cater to tactical driven firearms that are top of the line in quality. Maybe you need a new competition pistol or rifle. Perhaps you want the latest and greatest custom Glock. This is the best place to find it. They are not the place to look for cheap products, because they don’t carry cheap quality products. However, if you are looking for quality and a good deal on it, look no further.

Palmetto State Armory – They also have a few storefront locations in the State of South Carolina (in case you happen to be in the area). They carry everything you would expect at your local gun shop along with everything you wish they had. They have things like a Rossi single shot .410 for about $100 to a Bergara B-14 HMR for about $950 and many others. Looking for a specific gun and a reasonable price, check them out.

Cabela’s – Anyone that has ever done anything outdoor-related, knows who these guys are. Arguably the most prominent outdoor retail store, they have been around since your grandfather’s day. Like Brownells, their online presence was just a natural progression of their business. They gear more toward the hunting side of the industry, but their products in the shooting sports and tactical lines are nothing to scoff at. Since they are so big and have stores all over the country, you’ll be picking up the gun that you ordered at one of their retail locations. For those that are concerned with making the actual purchase online, this is also a great way to shop what they have available first, then go into your local store to make the order in person.


There are people all over screaming that it is too easy to buy a gun and do heinous things with it. Those of us with even some firearms knowledge knows this isn’t true. However, we also must educate. We can’t scream or be rude, but we can have a mature conversation with them, and the facts can come out. If you didn’t realize how online gun sales work, then I hope this helps shed some light on a transaction you didn’t know much about. If you are familiar with these transactions, then maybe share this article with those who don’t. There is no loophole for getting a gun. If someone does so, it is a crime. Criminals don’t follow laws. Legal citizens follow them. This is just another way a legal citizen can exercise their 2nd amendment rights and do so in a way that they are comfortable with.

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