Thanks to the proliferation of the internet, it’s now easier than ever to purchase firearms online. Despite the ease and convenience of buying firearms online, however, Federal law still requires that form 4473 be filled at the time of final transfer. When purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer — whether the purchase is from a brick and mortar store or the purchase is from an online site who ships to a brick and mortar store — the final process of transferring a firearm will involve the buyer providing information on Federal form 4473. After the dealer has determined that the buyer meets the legal criteria to own a firearm and after the buyer has filled the form, the dealer will process the form. Unless an individual is lawfully exempt from a background check, i.e., the buyer possess a Texas License to Carry, the dealer will conduct a background check through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) as part of the process.
Even though it is easy enough to purchase a firearm online, sometimes problems arise later in the process. Imagine a situation where a customer purchases a gun online, has it shipped, but NICS returns a “denied” response during the background check. Under Federal law, the dealer cannot proceed to transfer the firearm, even though the customer has already paid for it. In this instance, the customer is left with a few limited options. The first option for the customer who is denied would be to file a NICS Appeal. However, it can take months for a resolution. The second option for the customer would be to pay a shipping fee at the place of transfer in order to have the firearm sent back to the seller for a refund. But this second option depends on the online seller’s return policies. The transfer dealer cannot allow those associated with the original denied buyer to acquire the firearm on behalf of the denied buyer because this would be considered an illegal straw purchase. Purchasing a firearm on behalf of an individual who is otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm is illegal. Don’t do it.
While convenient, buying a firearm online is not without risks. It is the buyer’s ultimate responsibility to meet Federal and state residency requirements, Federal identification requirements, and all the other legal requirements to possess a firearm regardless of where it is purchased. To make the final transferring of firearms easy and quick, Family Armory recommends that individuals obtain the Texas License to Carry beforehand in order to avoid delays.