Under federal law, for a transfer of ownership of firearms to take place, a licensed FFL must be involved. A licensed FFL has obtained the license to be a firearms dealer.
This means that when an individual purchases a gun, the seller does not transfer ownership to them directly, rather to another licensed dealer. The buyer then receives the gun from the recipient FFL.
However, FFL transfer has rules guiding it and these rules differ based on states. More so, FFL transfer is not free. This article explains the necessary processes involved in an FFL transfer – what you need to know about FFL transfer.
What is FFL Transfer?
Basically, a federal firearms transfer or FFL transfer refers to sales of firearms through an authorized firearms dealer – one who has a federal firearms license (FFL).
Typically, a customer has to reach out to an FFL dealer to start a transfer process. FFL dealers have the legal right by the reason of Federal Firearms Licenses to sell firearms.
Therefore, an FFL transfer involves the transfer of guns from one firearms licensee to another licensee before it gets to the customer or non-licensee.
When Are Firearms Transfers Necessary?
Some states make it mandatory that all changes in ownership of firearms be conducted through a licensed firearms dealer, hence the need for FFL transfer.
An FFL transfer is necessary, according to the requirement of the federal law, whenever an individual purchases firearms from an FFL. Alternatively, when a firearms dealer ships firearms across state borders to another FFL dealer for pick-up by a customer.
This means that when a customer purchases a gun online across states, the seller has to send it to another licensed dealer in the customer’s state. Therefore rather than the buyer receiving it directly, they go to the FFL dealer to receive the firearm. This basically applies when the buyer does not have a federal firearms license.
And, there are certain steps to follow, starting from filling out the ATF Form 4830 to the FFL conducting a background check to validate the receiving licensee. This check is conducted via the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and once there is a “Proceed” response, the dealer goes ahead with the transfer.
Rules Guiding an FFL Transfer
The ATF requires that FFLs record all acquisitions and dispositions of firearms in a book called the “Acquisition and Disposition Book (A&D)”. Once the background check is successful, the transfer agent records the firearm as required into the A&D. The agent also records the gun’s serial number into the BATF bound log.
With all information provided and the ATF Form 4473, Section D completed, the firearm is transferred to the private buyer from the licensee. As the ATF requires, the FFL has to record the disposition of the firearm in the A&D log and this should be within 7 days from the day of the transaction.
However, there may be cases where the background check from the NICS responds as “Canceled” or “Denied” instead of “Proceed”. In such cases, the transfer is void and the private seller is required to discontinue the transfer of the weapon. Hence, the seller would not record the gun as acquired in the A&D log book.
The Transfer Process
Buying a Firearm
The transfer process when buying firearms is not complicated, but it may require extra processes and time if the buyer chooses to buy online. For one buying a firearm, here are the steps for transferring:
- Find a local FFL
Finding a local FFL to buy firearms follows two methods; locate a gun store or look for an online dealer. Buying from an online store will require shipping the item to the FFL dealer.
When buying online, the buyer may have to apply extra caution by ensuring that the dealer is reliable and willing to perform the transfer. Also, find out the rules guiding the transfer (if any) and the transfer fee.
- Purchase the Firearm
Whether in-person – at the store or through an online dealer, purchase the firearms.
- Transfer the Firearm
The transfer process begins with filling out the ATF Form 4473, carefully answering all the questions, and completing the form.
The buyer will also need to provide some basic documents such as a government-issued photo ID while submitting the form to the gun store employee. The gun store has a part to fill in the form, and then run a NICS background check afterward. If the check is successful, the gun store approves the purchase and the transfer is complete.
Selling a Firearm
As a seller follow these steps to transfer firearms:
- Gather Recipient FFL details
Once the sale of a firearm is completed, based on the destination of the firearm, the seller obtains a copy of the FFL license. And when the buyer picks an FFL that will transfer the gun to them, the seller will need to conduct a check to confirm the validity of the FFL.
This is vital to ascertain that the FFL is really licensed. The ATF FFL eZ Check system has made it easy to confirm the validity and address of an FFL.
- Ship the Firearm
Package and send the firearm to the FFL, ensure to add a driving license to tell the FFL where the firearm came from.
FFL Transfer Fee
The fee for an FFL transfer basically covers the receiving FFL’s time and any costs that may apply in the process -perhaps the cost for the NICS background check.
The FFL Transfers fees will vary depending on the local gun dealer, however, generally, it ranges from $20 to $75. If the licensee is a reputable one, the fees may be higher. However, in any case, buyers should always make inquiries about the transfer fee before choosing an FFL and choosing an FFL whose fees are affordable.
The FFL transfer is an attempt by the law to ensure the legitimate acquisition and disposition of firearms. Sellers of firearms; online and in-person, must follow industry standards to reduce the risk involved in the sales of firearms.