As with many industries, the gun industry has seen a recent spike in sales following the COVID-19 pandemic. Research shows that gun sales doubled between 2019 and 2020, continuing the American trend of high gun ownership rates.
Of course, many buyers are trying another tactic the pandemic popularized: online shopping.
Buying a gun online is easier today than ever before, and it also gives firearm enthusiasts access to more options than ever. Of course, if you’ve never shopped for a new gun online before, you might not be sure where to start.
Let’s take a quick look at what to consider when you buy a gun online.
Is Buying a Gun Online Legal?
First things first: you are within your rights to purchase a gun under federal law. Despite what some people believe, there are no criminal issues associated with an online purchase.
In fact, the online firearm marketplace has high regulation, as we’ll discuss below. These regulations may vary a little from state to state, as some states have additional requirements for gun purchases, but we’ll cover what you can generally expect from your transaction.
Working With FFL Dealers
When you buy a gun online, you can’t have it shipped right to your home. Just as you’d need to pass a background check when buying a gun in person, you’ll have to do the same when buying online.
To do this, you’ll have to find a local dealer who has a federal firearms license (FFL). This means that they can process your background check and transfer the gun to your person, either by mail or via an in-person pickup. They’ll also need to see your state ID and proof of your license.
It’s best to confirm in advance that the FFL will accept an online purchase and transfer it to you. Some stores avoid doing this, as they feel that it supports their online competition.
Finding Reputable Online Dealers
Even when you know the exact firearm you want to purchase, it’s a good idea to work with only reputable retailers. Good retailers will have a huge selection of major brands, from Smith and Wesson to SIG Sauer, as well as a convenient way of setting up shipping to your FFL. Be sure to check their reviews: some online dealers make the process easier than others, and positive testimonials and high customer satisfaction are always good signs.
Additional Costs for Online Firearm Sales
In some states, your FFL may have to charge a sales tax on the gun if your online retailer hasn’t charged you this tax.
In addition, keep in mind that a willing FFL will still charge fees for their transfer services. On average, these fees can range from $50-75. Factor the cost into your budget as you search for firearms online.
Find Your New Gun Online
Whether you’re a longtime firearm enthusiast or you’re purchasing your first new gun, buying a gun online is easier than ever. Though the process of choosing and working with a local FFL may be new to you, good online retailers make the transfer easy. Do your research to find the right online and local shop for your next purchase!
Looking for more tips on making the most of your purchases and possessions? Check out our other guides for more insights.