Whether for taking ownership of a rifle bought online or picking up a handgun sent from a friend in another state, being able to find a local dealer with a Federal Firearms License, or FFL, will often be required by law. Using a reliable, up to date FFL locator will generally be all that it takes to get started, after which finding the most convenient and affordable option will typically become a lot easier. While the process might seem complicated at first, most find that it is actually quite straightforward to work through.
What to Look for in an FFL Locator Tool
Even if there a fair number of details that will need to be accounted for, these tend to work themselves out naturally enough. Finding and making use of the right FFL locator can simplify the process even more. Many such tools offer features that help streamline the process of finding a dealer or individual with an FFL who is ready and willing to finalize interstate transfers. A few of the most common and potentially helpful include:
- Multiple Ways of Searching: Some FFL location resources amount to little more than static, text-based lists. Being able to input a ZIP code or address to focus in on local results can make things much easier.
- Map-based Listings: Locator tools that display results in legible, graphical maps can make it especially easy to judge which FFL holder might be closest and most convenient to work with.
- Information Regarding Fees: FFL holders will typically charge fees for their time and services, and having this data displayed from the start can make it easier to choose the best possible one. Fees will often vary between long guns and handguns, as well.
- Hours of Operation and Contact Info: Even once a weapon has arrived at an FFL dealer, it will not always be possible to pick it up right away. Locator tools that include typical business hours and contact details for FFL holders can simplify things greatly.
An Overview of the Laws Concerning the Sale of Firearms Across State Lines
Companies and individuals engaged in the business of selling long guns or handguns must possess an active, valid Federal Firearms License, just like manufacturers, wholesalers, importers, and certain others. At least one party with an FFL will also normally be required to complete the interstate transfer of any firearm. On the other hand, intrastate transfers between individuals who do not regularly engage in the business of selling firearms are generally free of this requirement.
Even in cases where both the original owner and the recipient are individuals not professionally involved in selling firearms, a transfer of ownership that crosses state borders will have to be facilitated by an FFL holder, however. Internet-based dealers who possess Federal Firearms Licenses of their own will also normally need to send guns on to an FFL-ready business or individual in the destination state for each order. This will normally mean that the weapon will be sent to an FFL-equipped dealer who will then take charge of the various details needed to arrange a lawful transfer to the new owner.
What to Expect from an FFL-Enabled Transfer
In practice, using an FFL-ready dealer to facilitate the purchase or gift of a firearm does not need to be difficult at all.
In many cases, the transfer will resemble a simple retail, in-state purchase, with only a few additional details standing out.
For one thing, the sender of the firearm will need to be made aware of the intended FFL dealer or other destination. The vast majority of Internet-based retailers will make this a straightforward part of the checkout process, as they will regularly deal with this issue.
Because dealers who ship firearms across state lines are required to ensure that they are doing so in accordance with the law, they will also need to verify that the receiving party in fact possesses an FFL. Active online dealers will maintain files of FFL copies they have received in the past, and will sometimes keep up to date lists of these on their websites. Even if a conveniently located local dealer has not yet transacted with a particular e-commerce retailer, however, simply contacting them and asking that copy of the FFL be faxed or emailed will normally be all that is needed.
For person to person interstate transfers, the process is more or less the same. The original owner of the weapon will need to be apprised of the desired FFL possessing recipient, after which they can verify the existence of the license.
In either case, whether for interstate person to person or retail sales, an ATF Form 4473 will need to be completed to enable the lawful transfer of the weapon to its new owner. A standard federal background check will also have to be conducted and passed, as is usual with commercial transfers of firearms between owners. Most who put a bit of effort into finding and working with a capable local FFL holder find that the process goes smoothly, and using the right FFL locating tool can make that easy.