It comes as a surprise to many that federal law strictly regulates transfers of firearms between residents of different states. This is not something new. It is part of the Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 U.S. Code §922.
In particular, under 18 U.S. Code §922(a)(3), it is illegal for a person who does not have a federal firearms license to transport into or receive in the state where he resides a firearm obtained outside that state. There are exceptions for transfers from an out-of-state dealer or when the firearm is received through an estate, such as under a will or by intestate. (It must also be legal for the person receiving the firearm to purchase or possess it in his home state).
Likewise, under 18 U.S. Code §922(a)(5), it is a crime to transfer, sell, trade, give, transport or deliver a firearm to a person the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe does not reside in the state where the transferor resides. As with the earlier section, there is an exception for transfers from an estate, plus another exception for a loan for “temporary use for lawful sporting purposes”.
Note that these are broad statutes. They prohibit sales, trades and gifts. Transfers to a resident can be a trap for someone is not aware of this statute.
So, how you to handle gifts, sales or transfers to someone who lives in another state? It can be done, it just involves a federal firearms dealer. For example, if the gift is a rifle or shotgun, a dealer in the gift-giver’s state can usually make the transfer. If the gift involves a handgun, only a dealer in the recipient’s home state can make the transfer. The gift-giver will either have to take the handgun the recipient’s state and deliver it to the dealer, or have it shipped to the dealer for delivery. This does not address the various laws in different states, where a particular type of firearm may be illegal to possess.
There are other categories of persons to whom you may not transfer a firearm. It is also a federal crime under 18 U.S. Code §922(d) to transfer a firearm to a person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe the person is (1) under indictment for or been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year; (2) a fugitive from justice; (3) drug user or addict; (4) has been adjudicated a mental defective or committed to a mental institution; (5) an illegal alien or admitted under a nonimmigrant visa; (6) dishonorably discharged from the military; (7) renounced his citizenship; (8) subject to an order of protection as defined; or (9) been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
If you would like to speak to James Wagner on this or any other subject, he may be reached at (865) 546-9321.
James E. Wagner concentrates his practice in areas such as personal injury litigation, workers’ compensation, toxic tort litigation, products liability, firearms law, probate, estate planning and insurance. His varied legal experience helps him analyze and resolve issues in all areas of practice for his clients. He has been privileged to represent many of the same clients over my entire career and handles each case with a view toward a long-term relationship. James provides his clients with reliable, dependable service.