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Firearms Transfers – How to do it right!

August 28, 2008 Crime Avoidance, Legal Issues 2 Comments

Question: When shipping firearms to another Arizona resident do I have to send it to an FFL or can I ship it directly to the other resident? I assume since I can sell it without any paper work to another resident I can just ship it to him but cannot find any information on the subject.

Answer:  You can only transfer firearms between Arizona residents in a ‘face to face’ transaction.  You need to be able to inspect the I.D. of the person you are selling the firearm to so that you can insure a ‘legal’ transfer of the firearm.  The buyer must be at least 18 years old for either a long gun or a handgun.  They should also certify in writing that they are not a ‘prohibited possessor’ and can legally possess a firearm in Arizona.

I always recommend keeping a ‘Bill of Sale’ that includes the name and address of both the buyer and the seller and a complete description of the firearm being transferred, including the serial number.  This is also a great place to have language certifying that the buyer can legally own a firearm in Arizona.  The buyer should sign and date the document.

The ‘Bill of Sale’ gives you a permanent record of the transaction and can be a huge time saver if the firearm you sold is ever stolen or used in a crime and the police come asking questions…

If you can’t do a ‘face to face’ transfer, or if you are selling a firearm to a buyer that lives out of state, you need to ship the firearm to an FFL near where your buyer resides.  Usually the FFL charges a small fee to process the paperwork.  You should contact the FFL prior to shipping to them for instructions on how to ship the firearm to them.  

You cannot ship firearms via US Mail.  You will need to use either FedEx or UPS.  I’d recommend that you ship it overnight as their is less chance of someone ‘diverting’ the shipment if they suspect the contents (yes, valuable items sometimes get pilfered in transit).  I would also recommend that you insure the package for the replacement value of the item being shipped.  By the way, you should not ship any ammo with the firearm.

Once it arrives at the other end, the FFL will contact your buyer.  When they come in to pick up the gun, the buyer will need to complete ATF Form 4473 (Firearm Transfer Record) which will remain on file with the FFL.  They will also have to present government issued photo ID and a valid Arizona CCW permit or the dealer will have to run a background check prior to releasing the firearm to your buyer.  Assuming they have a CCW permit or a clear background check they will be good to go.  

You might want to clarify who pays the FFL transfer fee in advance so there is no confusion when it comes time to make the transfer.

The process I have described is pretty typical.  Different FFLs may work slightly differently.  Some may charge a fee of $25-$50 while others may charge less.  Some FFLs don’t do private party transfers, so you need to check with them first.

I know this sounds like a bit of a hassle and it is.  The rules are in place to make sure that people that shouldn’t have guns don’t get them.  You can also see why most people prefer to do a ‘face-to-face’ transfer.  They are much simpler…

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Russ says:

    I’m a Ca. resident and Az. CCW holder. I want to sell a firearm to a friend who is an Az. resident and Az. CCW holder. How do I go about doing this? I have known him for over 10 years, if that makes a difference.

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  2. Doug Little says:


    You will have to do the transfer using an FFL. Since you are a resident of California, legally you cannot do a face to face transfer with an Arizona resident. You would need to have the gun shipped to an FFL in Arizona and have the FFL transfer the gun to your friend. I know that sounds like a pain, but that is the prescribed method under Federal law.



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