My experience buying a gun online

by Ric Hubbard • June 22, 2020

Up until recently I have always bought guns at a gun store, a pawn shop or a big box store that sells guns. For many years most of us have operated under the assumptions from the years after the GCA ’68, that dealers bought from distributors. We then went to the dealer and bought our guns.

Before the Gun Control Act of 1968 there were a lot of guns bought through mail order. Today, because of companies like Amazon, we are buying more and more products online, but because of the GCA ’68 we cannot order guns and have them sent directly to us. This does not mean that you cannot buy guns online.

Without getting to far into a political conversation, the anti-gun community would have people without real knowledge of the law believe that one can just go to a website, pick a gun and have it shipped to your house. Well, you can, but there are a couple of necessary steps in between the distributor and your door. Here is my experience with the process.

I recently purchased a new Radical Arms RF-15 from Primary Arms in Houston, Texas. I will be talking about the rifle in the future, but this is a company is one to consider for guns and related items. First, choose your firearm, in my case a Mid-Length SOCOM in 5.56. You place your order and make your payment, just like any other item from an online store. Putting in your shipping information is where the process gets a little more complex. The billing address is yours, but they will also ask for the address of your FFL dealer. They will have to ship the firearm to a dealer so that he or she can run the required background check. If you do not have one in mind, most distributors will have a list that you can choose from.

I would advise you to develop a relationship with a licensed dealer and use him or her for your transfers. You want to be able to trust your dealer and know what they will charge. You also need to know their process and rates. Some big box stores will handle the transfer for you, but because of liability issues they may choose to wait until they have a proceed from the background check instead of choosing to make the transfer after a three day wait, as the Brady Act allows for.

Before the distributor ships the firearm, they will contact your dealer to make sure they have a copy of their valid FFL on file and then ship. In my case this took about 5 days and my gun arrived about 2 days later. Once they have your firearm, the dealer will list it in their bound book just as if the were putting it in stock and then contact you to come and pick it up. When you arrive they will start the background check. Once they have a proceed, you can take your new gun home.

In my case, I made my purchase during the COVID-19/George Floyd protest period. That May saw the largest number of background checks in the history of the NICS system. Delays were the routine at that point, and I was no exception. I had the gun shipped to Academy Sports & Outdoors and it was delayed. Their company policy states that any NICS check delay will be held until they receive a proceed. In the end, my delay was three business days, but the weekend was in the middle of it, so five days went by and I got to take it home.

It is a bit of an arduous process, but as you can see, it can be done. Great deals can be found online and that makes it worth while to go through the process to take advantages of the savings. The legal and political issues involved are topics for other times, but if you believe in the Second Amendment, the time is now to protect it. I would encourage you to give it a try.

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