I am moving to a different state soon. In order to make the move easier I have decided to sell some of my firearms. I live in a state that doesn't have universal background checks, unfortunately.

What is the most responsible way to sell my firearms? From other listings I have seen, most people just take an approach of only selling to CCW holders. That's not a bad idea - are there other good ways? I'm making the assumption that selling to a pawn shop will give me nowhere near good value for my collection. But they would conduct background checks on the future buyer right?

What type of receipt should I be issuing with the firearm?

  • 9
    You might also want consider the importance of a paper trail when you sell the firearms. If you bought the weapons new or through a licensed dealer. There may be records of you being the owner of that weapon (serial number), should the weapon be used in an unlawful manner, it may be important for you to be able prove you are no longer the owner of il. Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 15:41
  • 7
    I live in a Free state, so I can sell to any individual who I don't think is on the prohibited list. But, my own policy is to sell to someone with a CCW, or to run the transfer through a local FFL. Cost for this in my area (and prices from what I've seen in other states) is $10-20 plus cost of NCIC phone call ($5 here in Fl)
    – ivanivan
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 17:07
  • 4
    @Sue - CCW stands for Concealed Carry Weapon. Everyone who has a CCW has gone through a background check.
    – Mayo
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 19:52
  • 2
    @ivanivan what, that can't be true "so I can sell to any individual who I don't think is on the prohibited list."
    – sch
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 11:30
  • 9
    Sounds like a question you should be asking your local law enforcement.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 16:43

6 Answers 6


There is nothing that says that you can't require a background check. Most firearms stores would do a background check and transfer the firearm for a small fee. Its the same process if you buy a gun online and have it shipped to a licensed FFLdealer to have it transferred to you.

You would have to find a local FFL dealer to settle all of the details.

Beyond that, selling to any FFLdealer would mean that they would take care of the background checks in the future.

  • Oh that's interesting. You mean that a store offers that as a service? My understanding was that those types of checks weren't possible and that's why my state doesn't have universal background checks (even though we voted it in). Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 15:29
  • 3
    Quite a few stores do. One guy I know says he'd be happy just doing transfers and then selling ammo, cleaning kits, and other things you need for your new purchase. On the other hand, I know of 2 stores local to me - one will physically chase you out of the store if you ask about a transfer (including an inheritance) or charge a minimum of 10% of the value of the gun
    – ivanivan
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 17:09
  • 2
    This may indeed be the most practical way to do it and I feel silly for not knowing this answer on my own. I seriously did not know that gun shops are willing to offer this as a service. Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 23:34
  • I use a local FFL to handle the transfer. It turns off a lot of people, but that is fine. My arse (and my conscience) are covered. Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 14:57

One possible solution, if you find a buyer that is willing to wait for it, i have heard of people taking a copy of the buyer's drivers license to the police station and asking them to run it to check for any red flags, or past offenses that prevent them from owning guns such as domestic abuse, or being a felon. I'm not sure if all police departments would do this or if they would charge to do it, but it does help keep them out of the wrong hands.

Also I would write your own bill of sale with both parties signing it basically just saying "I ______ sold this model of gun, for this amount, to ______ on this date. Serial number __________" then both parties sign the bottom of the page. This simply removes as much liability as possible.

Or as Charlie suggested you may be able to find a FFL dealer that will run the same paperwork as if they were buying it from them for a small nominal fee and act as a broker of sorts. The most money will be made selling it to a private individual but i understand your caution. I have had FFL transfers done for as little as 10$.


There are three ways that I am aware of, as a private seller to sell your guns to someone else correctly. Keep in mind that correctly is very jurisdiction-driven, and in some ways dependent on opinion.

But First

Make sure you can sell your gun at all. Many collectible guns fall under certain rules where you are allowed to own them if you did before such and such a date, but your no longer allowed to sell them. Also be aware that there may be county and other requirements. For example, in Florida you can sell your gun with no background check, but if the buyer doesn't have a CCL then there is still a wait period. Some counties do require background checks even if the state does not.

"Good" ways to sell

While there are exceptions these ways are so easy and accessible that most people just go one of these ways.

  1. Gun show. There are many gun shows. If you wish to sell at a gun show there are sections set up to let you do just that. You pay a small fee, and a FFL will handle the transaction for you, like a broker.

  2. Gun shop/clubs. Most gun shops and clubs offer a "transfer" or "broker" service. Like the gun show, a FFL brokers the deal for you for a small fee. In both cases they make sure all laws are followed and that all the paperwork is in order. They will also have rules on who the buyer can be so you can feel safe that your gun isn't going to someone unsafe.

  3. County Sheriff's office will usually help you transact a sale if you call ahead and ask them to. They may not want to help you sell 200 guns, but they are usually more then willing to help with a few. They can do background checks, witness the sale, and make sure the paper work recommended is filled out correctly. Make sure you call to arrange this first. Showing up at the sheriffs office with a gun in your hand will make for a very bad day.

FL specific things

There is no registration in FL. In theory you could sell your gun to anyone, so long as:

  • You traded something of equal value
  • The buyer is a FL resident
  • You know the buyer is over 18
  • You know the buyer is not a convicted felon

But keeping a good record is recommended.

  • 3
    Showing up at the Sheriff's office with a gun in hand is a terrible idea. Showing up in person with a gun in a case in the trunk of your car transported per your state's laws is a bit smarter. They may not even care to see it anyway.
    – user7764
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 20:47
  • 2
    My point, is to call first, and they will tell you what to do, but don't just show up with a gun.
    – coteyr
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 21:39

I live in a state that doesn't have universal background checks, unfortunately.

Universal background checks are simply an elimination of private sale, so the lack of such a policy simply means you have another option. Here are all your options:

  1. Sell to any store which handles firearms. Any gun store, pawn shop, or other business which regularly sells firearms is legally required to hold a Federal Firearms License (FFL), and any FFL holder is legally required to conduct background checks (NICS check through a form 4473) on any buyer. If you sell to a store, you will likely get much less than the firearms are worth, but they will be out of your concern immediately and you will have peace of mind that they are going to a responsible owner.
  2. Sell them online, through a site like Gunbroker or Armslist, and transfer through a gun store. Virtually all gun stores offer firearm transfers as a service, with typical prices ranging from $10-50. The way this works is once you receive payment for the firearms, you ship them to a gun store chosen by the buyer (not the buyer themselves). The gun store logs the transfer, conducts the background check (again, they are legally required to do this), and then if the buyer passes they take possession of the firearm. Normally the buyer chooses the FFL and pays the FFL transfer fee.
  3. Sell them locally, but process the transaction through a local gun store. This is exactly as the above, except instead of shipping to an FFL, you and the buyer meet at a local gun store to handle the background check.
  4. Sell them through private sale. This is simply a face-to-face transaction. Legally, you can not sell them to someone you know to be a prohibited person (someone who is not legally allowed to own a gun), and the buyer must be a resident of the same state as you. Banning this is all that 'universal background checks' are, but you're free to ignore this option if you don't feel comfortable with it. Because ordinary citizens are not allowed to access the NICS, some opt to use concealed carry permits as an indirect confirmation that someone has passed a background check in the past.

It sounds like #1 will be the easiest option for you, but #2 doesn't entail any additional legal responsibility and will get you a better price if you're willing to do the work of advertising and shipping, and #3 is easier still if you can find a local buyer. Any of the first three options ensures that a background check is being conducted.

  • I appreciate the thorough answer. However, I think you are missing the point of universal background checks. While it may be perceived as the "elimination of private sales", it also establishes a system that allows people to sell to each other with a background check involved. I liked the thought of that and so did most people in my state that voted it in. The lack of infrastructure to do this and make a sale to a non-prohibited person is what caused my question to begin with ;-) Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 23:39
  • 1
    @DMS Every state which has implemented universal background checks thus far has done so by banning private sale and requiring transfer through an FFL holder, as I said. Federal-level background checks are only available to FFL holders, so there's no way for states to provide an equivalent for normal citizens. I pointed this out not as a political statement, but to correct the assumption that living in a non-UBC state makes it harder to secure a background check on a firearm sale than in a UBC state. You have all the same infrastructure available, you are simply not required to use it.
    – Catgut
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 15:52

You can require the purchaser to fill out a Form 4473 that the BATFE requires FFL holders to file. Make sure the purchaser fills out the form and signs it. Even though you're not an FFL holder, the form holds it's own weight. It states on the form

18.c. I also understand that making any false oral or written statement, or exhibiting any false or misrepresented identification with respect to this transaction, is a crime punishable as a felony under Federal law, and may also violate State and/or local law

Also, make sure the purchaser answered the questions correctly. Do NOT sell the firearm if the answers aren't correct.

The purchaser should not object too strongly with this method. Because you're keeping the form for your records and not sending it to the BATFE. If (s)he does, then don't sell the firearm.

Keep the form forever so you have a record of the sale.

  • Note that in the context of a private sale, the form requires either an NICS check or that the receiver of the firearm has a permit. Most states in the USA do not require permits. I do not see an option for "no NICS check was required because this is a private sale and there are no permits or registries in this state." Since the OP wants peace of mind, it may be worthwhile to get an NICS check through a FFL dealer, or sell to an FFL dealer in the first place and forego the extra cash from a private sale.
    – user7764
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 20:45
  • Except that there are hundreds of cases of people being caught lying on the forms and they are never prosecuted. Less than 1%.
    – ivanivan
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 3:14
  • @Snowman, Neither the private seller nor the form itself require the NICS check, a transfer from an FFL dealer does. In most states, long arm sales through a private party do not require the NICS check. The form is there to show that the seller performed some due diligence for the sale if, on the smallest chance, the buyer does something inappropriate with the firearm, or it get stolen in the future.
    – B540Glenn
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 18:29
  • 2
    @ivanivan, Of course people lie. The form itself is no barrier for unqualified people from obtaining firearm. It's there to protect the sellers. If the seller keeps the form, he can prove the buyer lied to him when he purchased the firearm. Someone can't say, "The buyer told you that he was going to do illegal things with the firearm, why did you sell it to him?"
    – B540Glenn
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 18:33
  • That's an interesting answer. I definitely want to record the sale but keep in mind that my greater concern is that I don't want to sell to someone that wouldn't be able to buy otherwise (warrants, restraining orders, etc). I like your method but I would have no way of knowing these other items Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 23:41

I think it partly depends on what guns you're selling, how many you're selling, and also what your time is worth. If you're selling a commodity gun like a Marlin 60 or Ruger 10/22, probably sell them to a gun shop. They'll give you a decent price and your time is probably worth more than what it would take to go through the extra trouble of meeting a private buyer at a police station or gun shop.

If you have something interesting like a pre-`64 Winchester 70, that might be worth taking to an auction house.

  • "sell them to a gun shop. They'll give you a decent price " No they won't. A) The shop needs to make their money too B) For really common guns they can get new ones wholesale for less than what a lot of folks want for used guns. The opposite is true, uncommon but desirable pieces are worth selling to dealers. They can reach a market you can't and can turn over the inventory. I agree on the auction house for really desirable or rare arms.
    – Freiheit
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 20:38
  • Thanks for the great answer. In my case I wouldn't have anything too rare. Just some excess stuff that I want to sell in order to make my move easier. Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 23:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.