This topic came up recently and it really is very simple. If you are crossing state lines the firearm transfer must occur at an FFL. Let’s say you spot that firearm you have been seeking and it is several states away being sold by a private individual and you now need to figure out a way to get it home to you. The first thing to do is contact the seller and agree upon the price and terms. Since they most likely will not be able to process a credit card and no one trusts personal checks your best methods of payment are a certified check from your bank or a USPS Money Order. I suggest the latter. With a money order if the other party does not deliver then you have recourse with the postal service as part of mail fraud. That is not a minor offense. Now there are costs involved with a money order, but they are minimal.
The biggest hurdle to determine is what it will take to get the firearm to you. You should already have an FFL on speed dial, but if not take some time to locate one in your area with a good fee and great service. Now comes the tricky part. The seller must find an FFL in their area to transfer and ship the firearm. Some FFLs will receive a firearm from an individual, but most prefer the firearm come from another FFL and there are a few benefits to doing it that way. The best one is FFLs can ship items easier than you or I can. Those charges can vary wildly, but typically include the cost of the transfer and the cost of the shipping. The lowest I have seen is about $35 and it can go up as high as $75 for those combined services. You do have to take that into account with the purchase price of the firearm to determine if you want to go through with the deal.
Now that the details are ironed out go to the post office with cash or a debit card and get the money order as well as postage with tracking to mail the payment. Mail the entire amount to the seller and let them pay their FFL. In the meantime have your FFL contact their FFL to provide their license information for the transfer. Most will fax or email it over, some may need to send it snail mail. Once the payment is made and the FFL information is sent you begin a waiting game which can be lengthy. If you mail the payment it will take time to arrive which could take up to a week. Then the shipment must be sent and that could take several days to a week to arrive. Patience is key and communication with the seller is also a must. Ask them to let you know when milestones happen like the money order arriving (you also have a confirmation on the letter), dropping off the firearm at their FFL, the tracking information, etc. In that way you stay engaged and know exactly what is taking place.
The worry is often whether or not the transaction is real, but in most cases that is not a worry and there are some things you will have done to ensure things are real. You should have the person’s email and save those emails. You should have talked on the phone as well. Ask them to send you photos of the firearm via text, that may give you yet another phone number. When you get their address for mailing the money order, check it against tax records in that county. It is not difficult to protect yourself. I would never send anything to a PO Box, that should be a red flag the deal might not be legit.
So there you have it, how to easily transfer a firearm from one state to another. It is a bit of a convoluted process, but it isn’t that bad.