What Are The Rules of a Gun Show

From massive Industry Trade Shows to your local fairground Gun & Knife Show, people love to walk the aisles of a Gun Show.  Amidst all of the products, both the latest models and the oldest collectibles, is the excitement of discovering the “great find” – that gun you’ve always looked for, but struggled to find.

Gun shows are more than just a “market place,” they are often multi-day events that draw gun enthusiasts and Federal Firearms Licensees by the hundreds and thousands. Once congregated in one room, enthusiasts are free to discuss topics of interest (like second amendment rights), share old war stories, and brag about their greatest hunting and fishing catches.  Many travel from show to show every weekend enjoying the displays of firearms, ammunition, military memorabilia, and accessories.  It has become quite a cultural event for many.

Along with the excitement of the atmosphere come the responsibilities of the Federal Firearm Licensees that attend, hoping to earn a few dollars.  The ATF sees gun shows as an FFL’s extension of their licensed business and expects that many of the same rules will be followed as if a transfer was happening from the actual store.

In September of 2010, ATF published a pamphlet titled “Important Notice to Dealers and Other Participants at this Gun Show,” also known as the Gun Show Guidelines.  It lists all the “musts, mays, and cannots” for both in-state and out-of-state FFLs as well as non-licensed residents in and out-of-state from where the gun show is held.

According to ATF there are some requirements that all Dealers must follow regardless of whether it is an in-state or out-of-state show.  These include:

  • Dealers must have their license displayed
  • Must comply with all recordkeeping requirements of ATF regulations concerning acquisitions and dispositions of firearms, including the recording of the place of sale.
  • May acquire firearms from any FFL licensed in the State and from any non-licensed individual.

And here is where the two differ.  In-state Dealers may:

  • Dispose of handguns to residents of the State only, provided that the purchaser is at least 21 years of age and all provisions of the Brady Law are met.
  • Dispose of long guns to residents of any State, provided that the purchaser is at least 18 years of age, the laws of both States are complied with, and all provisions of the Brady Law are met.
  • Dispose of firearms to any FFL.
  • Take orders of any firearm from a non- licensee and ship the same to a licensee in the purchaser’s State of residence from whom the purchaser can then take possession after the provisions of the Brady Law are met.

Out-of -state Dealers may:

  • Make a sale and deliver curio or relic fire- arms to any other FFL licensed in any State as long as there is compliance with the laws of both States.
  • Ship curio or relic firearms from this show to any other FFL.
  • Display and take orders.

The pamphlet goes on to cover Non-Licensees activities as well.  Keep in mind that there may be additional State or Local laws and guidelines that must be followed too.

In-State Non-Licensees:

  • May acquire long guns or handguns from FFLs licensed in this State, provided all provisions of the Brady Law are met.
  • May dispose of personal firearms to any FFL.
  • May acquire from and dispose of personal firearms to non-licensed residents of the State. However, non-licensed individuals may not be engaged in the business of dealing in firearms without a Federal firearms license.
  • Cannot acquire from or dispose of firearms to non-licensed residents of any other State.
  • Cannot ship in interstate commerce, except to themselves or an FFL, a firearm that has otherwise been lawfully acquired; must, when shipping to themselves, declare the firearm to the commercial or contract carrier.

And lastly, Out-of-State Non-licensees:

  • May dispose of firearms to any FFL.
  • May acquire long guns only from FFLs licensed in the State, provided the laws of both States are complied with and all provisions of the Brady Law are met.
  • May order firearms from any FFL and have them shipped from the show to an FFL in their State of residence by a commercial or contract carrier in accordance with State and Federal law.
  • Cannot acquire handguns.
  • Cannot acquire from or dispose of firearms to non-licensed individuals.

Now that you’ve got your “Do’s” and “Don’ts” straight, get on your walking shoes and get ready to bargain; it’s time to find a gun show!

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