Add to Cart: Firearm Purchase Requirements and Its Process

In the United States, while it is relatively easy to buy a gun, you must follow certain firearm purchase requirements. These requirements exist at several levels – federal, state, and local.  

When you have a good understanding of the rules, you can walk into a physical store and buy a firearm, which is a straightforward process. But what about buying a firearm online, especially if it’s from another state?

In this article, we’ll guide you through the firearm purchase requirements and the steps you need to take to buy a firearm online – from choosing an online gun dealer to clicking the ‘add to cart’ button. Keep on reading.

Add to Cart Firearm Purchase Requirements and Its Process

What Are the Firearm Purchase Requirements 

The first thing when purchasing a firearm is making sure you don’t end up with a weapon that has a questionable past, you should buy it from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) gun store or dealer. 

Second, you’ll need two forms of ID. One form is valid photo identification, such as a driver’s license, government-issued ID card, passport, or military ID. Then, you’ll typically need to provide proof of your current residential address, like a concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit or a utility bill.

The next step is to complete and sign the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473, which certifies that you are legally eligible to purchase a firearm. The gun dealer will review your information and then initiate a background check through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. Depending on the state, additional background checks at the state level may also be required.

The federal laws say 18-year-olds can buy shotguns and rifles, while those 21 and over can purchase handguns, shotguns, and rifles. But many states, cities, and towns have their own gun laws that can be stricter than the federal ones. 

State requirements are published on their respective government websites. There you can check the regulations. A great resource is also your local gun store or shooting range. The folks working there usually know all the requirements needed to purchase guns locally. Just ask them what you need, and they can walk you through everything to make sure you do it properly and don’t break any laws. 

State and Local Firearms Purchase Requirements 

The firearm purchase requirements for buying handguns vary from state to state. Some require you to have a special permit, while others don’t. You can check the last update for your state here

There might also be an extended waiting period after you buy the gun and do the background check. But not all states make you wait. 

After you get your new handgun, you might need an extra permit if you want to openly carry it or have it concealed on you in public. Even with those permits, there could be limits on where you can actually take your handgun depending on the place you live. 

Gun Transfer Across State Lines

If you want to buy, sell, gift, or receive a firearm from someone in another state, the transaction, whether private or not, must go through a licensed firearms dealer (FFL) in your state. Private sales or gifts across state lines are not allowed. 

This means that even if your grandpa wants to give you his old hunting rifle, an FFL dealer in your state must handle the gun transfer. The firearm has to be shipped to the FFL that will then process the paperwork and transfer it to you after requirements are met. 

Keep in mind breaking these laws is a felony that the ATF takes very seriously.

Buying a Gun Online – Pros and Cons

Can you buy a gun online? Of course, in fact online gun shops are a market that is increasing steadily. 

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying online. 


  • No more gun shop limitations: Shopping online means more choice. You can find anything anywhere – new guns, used guns, gun products, police trade-ins, collector guns pretty much everything gun-related is available online.
  • Better prices: Buying a gun online might be less expensive. Online gun dealers usually don’t have the same overhead expenses brick-and-mortar dealers have, so they can offer better prices.
  • Time to research thoroughly: Online shopping allows you to read product details, watch video reviews, and compare multiple options before making a decision. This facilitates a more informed purchase.


  • Can’t handle it or try it before purchasing: You can’t physically inspect and hold the gun before purchasing it online. 
  • Return difficulties: Returning an online gun purchase is usually more complicated than an in-person return. 
  • No expert guidance: You might not be able to get in-person advice from knowledgeable sellers who can answer questions.

Online Gun Dealers – How to Choose One?

Don’t just go with the first one you see online because they offer inexpensively priced guns. Make sure they are licensed as an FFL dealer and have positive reviews from real buyers. 

Look for stores that offer secure forms of payments, are legal and follow gun laws, have good shipping policies, and returns.

For choosing an online gun store, many prefer those offering a wide selection of guns, parts, accessories, and ammo all in one place. However, some sites specialize in just a few products or a specific brand. If you’re a die-hard fan of a certain manufacturer, you may want an online shop run by experts deeply focused on that brand.

Add to Cart: Step by Step Process

Now that you’ve chosen a prospective online gun store, the purchasing process generally follows typical online shopping experiences. However, the biggest difference lies in the fact that you cannot receive your gun shipped directly to you. It must be shipped to a local FFL dealer who will take care of the documents and ensure that the requirements are met. 

Let’s say you’ve decided on the Glock 19 Gen 5 handgun after your research and the price is good. There are also a few other details to pay close attention to.

Add to Cart Step by Step Process 1

The product page has helpful sections like ratings, reviews, and Q&A from other buyers – good signs to validate your choice. However, you’ll notice it states the handgun is not eligible for returns. 

No matter the website, it’s important to review the Return Policy before proceeding. Keep in mind that as a private citizen, you cannot directly ship firearms yourself for returns. When it is allowed the process requires going through the FFL dealer that will handle it for you.

Add to Cart Step by Step Process 2

Additionally, on the product page, there is a disclaimer outlining several pretty much standard rules:

  • Firearms are not shipped directly to the customer, but to an FFL dealer.
  • Shipping conditions for multiple products in the cart.
  • Conditions for FFL dealer refusal.

Now, let’s add the product to the cart and begin the checkout.

Add to Cart Step by Step Process 3

Here are two things to keep in mind. First, you cannot pay through some popular platforms such as PayPal or Stripe as they do not support the Shooting Sports industry. Second, the final taxes will be calculated and displayed here before you place your order.

Before you proceed, usually you need to create an account or sign in. Then you have to choose the FFL dealer near you, as the gun cannot be shipped directly to you. This function is very important when choosing an online store as it eliminates the risks of dealing with sellers whose FFL has expired or whose address is not valid. You can also pass the FFL number through the ATF easy check system to verify it.

Add to Cart Step by Step Process 4

Choose the delivery location from the list of dealers nearby, and place your order.

Add to Cart Step by Step Process 5

The FFL Dealer Has Your Gun, Now What?

It is understandable that when you receive the call from the local FFL dealer, you will want to go and just pick up the firearm, but that’s not how it works. First, you have to complete the 4473 form, which is required for every gun purchase. This form consists of a series of questions, most of which are straightforward. However, if you don’t understand something, ask the FFL holder for assistance.

Then there is a background check requirement. If you already have a carry permit, you don’t need to undergo a background check (although you still have to fill out the 4473 form). The dealer will run the background check, which will return either “proceed,” “delay,” or “deny.” The transaction can be delayed for up to 3 business days. It is not mandatory; for instance, if you provide your social security number in the 4473, you may receive an instant proceeds.

Wrap Up

After all, buying a gun online is not complicated; it just requires two or three additional steps, understanding the firearm purchase requirements and choosing trustworthy online gun dealers to facilitate a smooth gun transfer.