As an Amazon Associate, this site earns a commission from Amazon sales.

December 4th, 2019

Important Rules for Firearms Gift Transfers

firearm gun gift law rules NSSF
Image Courtesy NSSF. This story is based on an NSSF Article.

‘Tis the season of gift-giving — Christmas is just 3 weeks away. Perhaps you’re considering giving a a first rifle to your grandson or perhaps a carry pistol to a spouse. When making a gun gift to a friend or family member, however, there are some very important legal considerations. Also the rules on firearms gift transfers vary from state to state. Bottom line here — you need to know the law BEFORE you deliver that shiny new firearm to a family member, close friend, or relative.

firearm gun gift law rules NSSF

The first thing to remember if you’re thinking about giving someone a gun is that … it’s a gun! You already know that ownership of a firearm brings with it some serious legal and ethical obligations that other consumer products don’t. So let’s look at some questions you may have about giving a firearm as a gift.

firearm gun gift law rules NSSF
Image Courtesy NSSF

ATF Firearms gun giftsThe first question you have to ask is whether the intended recipient can legally own the firearm where he or she lives. With more than 20,000 different gun laws on the books, even the kinds of firearms that law-abiding citizens can own vary from place to place. For example, juveniles (under age 18) generally speaking are precluded by law from possessing a handgun. Check out the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) website for an overview of local laws and, whatever you do, don’t forget that you can never under any circumstances transfer a firearm to someone you know — or have reasonable cause to believe — legally can’t own one. That’s a federal felony, so be careful.

There’s no federal law that prohibits a gift of a firearm to a relative or friend who lives in your home state. Abramski v. United States, a recent Supreme Court decision involving a “straw purchase” of a firearm did not change the law regarding firearms as gifts. The following states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington State) and the District of Columbia require you to transfer a firearm through a local firearms retailer so an instant background check will be performed to make sure the recipient is not legally prohibited from owning the gun. Maryland and Pennsylvania require a background check for private party transfer of a handgun. There are exceptions, so it’s important to check the law of your state or ask your local firearms retailer.

ATF Firearms gun giftsConsider a Gift Card Instead of Direct Gift
The ATF recommends that if you want to give someone a new firearm, rather than going to a gun store and buying the gun on your own, consider instead purchasing a gift certificate/card from your favorite gun retailer. Then give that gift card as the present. That way the recipient can choose the exact gun he or she wants, and there’s no question about who is “the actual buyer of the firearm,” which is a question any purchaser must certify on the Federal Form 4473 at the time of purchase. The Gift Card option avoids any “straw purchaser” issues.

Intra-Family Transfers and Antique Arms
What if you want to give “Old Betsy,” your favorite old deer rifle, to your son or daughter as a college graduation gift? Again, in most states, there’s no law that says you can’t, but some states require even intra-family transfers to go through a licensed dealer. Remember, you can never transfer a firearm directly to another person who is a resident of a different state. In that case, you must transfer the firearm through a licensed dealer in the state where the person receiving the gift resides. Using a gift certificate from a firearms retailer near where the recipient lives might be a good solution. Pre-1898 antique firearms are generally exempt from the dealer requirement. [But check with the laws in your jurisdiction]. Be safe and check with your dealer or local law enforcement before you hand over your prized possession.

Regulations on Firearms Shipping to Third Parties
When you intend to transfer a gun, there are important rules on interstate shipping*. Generally speaking, you can only ship a handgun by common carrier (but not U.S. Mail) and a long gun by U.S. Mail or common carrier to a federally licensed dealer, but not to a non-licensed individual. With all carriers, federal law requires you to declare that your package contains an unloaded firearm. To be safe, always consult your carrier in advance about its regulations for shipping firearms. Also check your state laws on transfers.

*Different rules may apply to shipping to parties IN-STATE or shipping firearms to yourself in temporary care of others. Always consult your own state laws, but here are some FAQs copied directly from the ATF.GOV website:


Permalink - Articles, Handguns, Tech Tip No Comments »
August 2nd, 2010

Truckers Side with Gun Owners in Opposing California Law

OOIDA truckers unionThe Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has joined the Calguns Foundation, the NRA, the Folsom Shooting Club and two individual truckers to challenge AB 962, California’s soon-to-be-implemented ban on the interstate shipment of handgun ammunition to California.

The law will criminalize the delivery and transfer of handgun ammunition not done in face-to-face transactions. OOIDA’s attorneys have filed a new lawsuit, OOIDA et al v. Lindley, U.S. District Court (E.D. Calif.), alleging that the provisions of AB 962 violate the Federal Aviation Admin. Authorization Act, which prohibits states and local municipalities from interfering with carriers’ rates, routes or services. Previously, two ammo-makers and the Shooting Sports Director for the Paralyzed Veterans Assn. of America filed another lawsuit challenging AB 962 on the grounds that it violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

AB 962 California Gun BanLast year, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 962 into law, which goes into effect February, 2011. The law will criminalize the delivery and transfer of handgun ammunition not done in face-to-face transactions. It also requires shipping companies to implement procedures to determine whether the recipient of a package containing handgun ammunition is covered by one of the exceptions in the law before delivering handgun ammunition in California. According to the OOIDA, this places a big burden on the shippers, and will make shipping ammunition to California much more difficult and likely more expensive.

Jim Johnston, OOIDA President, explained why his organization filed its lawsuit: “This isn’t about firearms or ammunition. Congress made an important decision to keep motor carriers free from a patchwork of burdensome regulation as we move America’s goods to market. We cannot allow California to subject our members to criminal liability where the state has no right to meddle.”

CLICK HERE for Complaint in OOIDA lawsuit, OOIDA et al v. Lindley.

CLICK HERE for Complaint in ammo-makers’ lawsuit, State Ammunition et al v. Lindley.

Permalink News 1 Comment »
April 17th, 2010

Important Rules Governing Shipment of Firearms and Air Travel

NSSF VP and Gen’l Counsel Lawrence Keane has analyzed the laws governing transport of firearms and ammunition. Here Keene explains long-standing restrictions as well as some new rules that affect firearms owners who ship guns by Common Carrier or who bring firearms when they travel by air.

Disclose to the Carrier if Contents Include Firearms or Ammunition
In a recent case, an individual was criminally prosecuted by the federal government for shipping two guns and some ammunition via a common carrier. The federal government also seized and forfeited the firearms and ammo. Why? Because the shipper “knowingly” failed to disclose to the carrier in writing that the contents of the package contained firearms and ammo. He violated Section 922(e) of the Gun Control Act. This case provides an important lesson for all of us who may, for example, ship a firearm to ourselves for an event rather than check the firearm as luggage.

You MUST declare the contents to the common carrier in writing (on the carrier’s form, check the box/fill in the line). It is a crime to “knowingly to deliver or cause to be delivered to any common or contract carrier for transportation or shipment . . . to persons other than a licensed [importer, manufacturer, dealers, or collector], any package or other container in which there is any firearm or ammunition without written notice to the carrier that such firearm or ammunition is being transported or shipped.”

Transportation Safety AgencyName on Airline Reservations and Picture ID must be Identical
An important new change is taking place for everyone who travels. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has launched a program called “Secure Flight,” which will require travelers to provide their full name as it appears on the government-issued identification they will be traveling with (i.e. passport, driver’s license) when making airline reservations. With this change, you will no longer be able to travel under an abbreviated name or nickname (i.e. Scott vs. W. Scott, Liz vs. Elizabeth or Bill vs. William). This change in airline procedure may affect you and require you to make changes to how your name appears in your travel documents including profiles with your travel agency.

Transportation Safety AgencyEducate Yourself About Restricted Items
The TSA offers a comprehensive list of all prohibited items on its website, The lengthy list explains which items may be carried on and which must go in checked luggage. The exhaustive list of items barred from carry-on includes many things you might not expect.

For example, it is illegal to have drill bits or even screwdrivers (more than 7″ in length) in carry-on luggage. Scissors longer that 4″ must be checked. Hammers must be checked. Gel shoe inserts must be removed and checked, and even snow globes may not be carried on a plane. Because its hard to remember all the restrictions, we recommend you download the TSA’s digital PDF brochure on restricted items, and use it for reference before your new airline trip.

Permalink News 1 Comment »