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Navigating Transfers and Avoiding Revocation: Considerations for Selling Firearms to Nonresidents

Written by Orchid


June 22, 2023


Navigating Transfers and Avoiding Revocation

Selling firearms to individuals from different jurisdictions both online and in-person presents a unique set of challenges that demand careful attention and adherence to applicable laws. Non-compliance with these regulations can have severe consequences, as evidenced by cases highlighting the revocation of licenses due to improper transfers. We will briefly explore the complexities surrounding the sale of firearms to nonresidents and discuss essential considerations to ensure compliance. While this article may offer valuable insights, it is important to note the significance of seeking tailored legal guidance from professionals, such as Orchid Law, to effectively navigate this intricate landscape.

Online Sales and Compliance

Contrary to common assumptions, solely relying on the receiving FFL (Federal Firearms Licensee) to handle the transaction is not a foolproof approach when conducting online sales. Each state has its own requirement and exemptions, even for firearms referred to as “assault weapons” under applicable state law. FFLs should not assume that they can automatically ship firearms to an FFL in another state without understanding the recipient’s jurisdiction’s specific laws. Failure to comply can result in legal complications and potential civil lawsuits, imposing significant financial burdens.

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Importance of Due Diligence

It is important to recognize that FFLs may have varying levels of knowledge and awareness of specific laws or recent changes in their jurisdiction. Thus, it is not sufficient to rely solely on the receiving FFL to ensure compliance. FFLs should proactively conduct their own due diligence and implement measures to safeguard themselves from potential issues that may arise in the future.

General Requirements for Transfers to Nonresidents

Transferring firearms to nonresidents involves navigating various legal requirements. According to 18 U.S.C. 922(b)(3), an FFL is generally prohibited from over the counter transfers of firearms to individuals residing outside their state. However, an exception exists for in-person sales of rifles or shotguns if the transfer fully complies with the legal conditions of sale in both states. FFLs are expected to have knowledge of the state laws and published ordinances of both the seller’s and recipient’s states involved in the transfer.

In-Person Transfers versus In-Person Purchases

Distinguishing between in-person transfers and purchases is crucial. In-person over the counter transfers are limited to rifles or shotguns, while other types of firearms purchased must be shipped to an FFL in the purchaser’s state. In the case of an over the counter transfer of a rifle or shotgun the purchaser must undergo a background check by completing a Form 4473 (i.e., no background check exemptions for carry permits are permitted), and strict adherence to the laws of both states is necessary. Understanding the precise definition of a rifle or shotgun is essential to ensure compliance with transfer restrictions (e.g., a “pistol grip firearm” is not a shotgun or rifle even though it is not a handgun).

Understanding State Laws & Key Factors to Consider

As mentioned, FFLs must be well-versed in the laws of their own state as well as the state where the recipient resides. Key factors to consider include statutory interstate transfer prohibitions, permits or licensing laws of the transferee’s state, waiting period laws, prohibitions on specific firearms, and restrictions on high-capacity magazines. By carefully considering these factors, FFLs can navigate the intricate landscape of transfers to nonresidents more effectively.

Integrating Orchid eState™ for Enhanced Compliance

When it comes to the complex landscape of state firearm laws, Orchid eState™ emerges as the only state firearm restriction and legislative tracking software that can significantly assist FFLs in ensuring compliance. By incorporating Orchid eState™ into their operations, FFLs can empower their staff with accurate and up-to-date information, enabling them to make informed and immediate decisions about firearm transactions. FFLs can even automate processes by integrating Orchid eState™ restrictions API into their ecommerce, POS, or ERP systems, ensuring compliance and supporting efficient order management. This includes the ability to prohibit online and in-store gun purchases that are illegal in designated states and to simplify the tracking of state firearm laws that could impact marketing plans, inventory allocation, engineering designs, product sales, and legal liability. Learn more about Orchid eState™ at orchidadvisors.com/estate.


To avoid potential revocation and legal complications, it is critical for FFLs to have a comprehensive understanding of federal and state laws when selling firearms to nonresidents. FFLs must take personal responsibility for compliance, conduct thorough due diligence, and be aware of the laws in both their own state and the recipient’s state. By adhering to these guidelines, FFLs can mitigate risks and ensure a smoother, legally compliant transfer process for all parties involved.

Legal Disclaimer:

Nothing in this article should be interpreted as legal advice. The information in this article is not intended to substitute for professional legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should accept legal advice only from a licensed legal professional with whom you have an attorney-client relationship.