Compliance with Federal Laws when Buying a Firearm Online

Compliance with Federal Laws when Buying a Firearm Online
Federal laws ensure that lawful US residents are purchasing firearms safe and in compliance

Table of Contents:

National laws and rules involving the purchase of guns legally in the United States of America can be confusing. What you may think is legal, might not be. In this article, we'll help you walk through how to buy firearms online and where it is legal in 2022.

Guns bought online can never be shipped to the customers home, the purchased firearms must be shipped to a federally licensed gun shop.

What Federal Laws apply to buying guns online?

Federal laws do not prohibit any one from purchasing firearms online. They only restrict online or mail order purchase of handguns (those specific guns designated as "not shoulder weapons") because the vendor cannot verify the buyer is a resident of the same state as the business site.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is a computerized system that conducts these background checks on behalf of FBI with information obtained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The NICS takes 30 seconds to 4 minutes to start a check and will only unload one firearm per transaction. If you are a not a U.S. citizen and are a permanent resident, it is likely that these background checks will take longer, up to a few days.

Once your background check is cleared you are approved to fulfill the purchase of a firearm

How does the downloadable ATF Form 4473 work?

Prior to a gun purchase, the Form 4473 must be filled out and signed. What differentiates the ATF Form 4473 from other forms is that it is a record of instructions that are printed on the form. Before electronically completing the form, it must be printed and signed with the buyer, their co-buyer, or transferee present. The other option includes a search at the store using ATF e-Forms which will send an email notification directly to all parties if approved.

Mental health

The Gun Control Act (1968) and the Brady Handgun Prevention Act (1993) require gun retail businesses to unconditionally record a government-mandated waiting period, keep a detailed register of all firearms sales and purchases documents, be subject to being inspected by law enforcement any time during operation, and ensure that nobody under the age of 18 purchases or goes into possession of a firearm. A common misconception is that there is an explicit prohibition on certifying people for mental health reasons.

The NICS has a database that certifies the intentions of criminals who purchase or sell firearms. This database is backed by a requirement to require reviews of people who seem to be at higher risk of harming themselves or others.

Some law enforcement officials, in the confidential interview distributed by journalists, expressed a concern that too many people who target family members or repeat offenders would not, therefore, be barred from possessing a firearm. Several concepts were offered to identify people who might be bipolar or unbalanced, rather than simply excluding them. One of the suggestions concerned a database that goes beyond clinical diagnoses to demonstrate possession of a weapon by those who have been told they need to be committed for mental treatment, even if they can not do so of their own volition.

If you or a loved on is battling with mental health issues, please seek help from a doctor or visit for more info


Since this was only a brief overview of different federal laws when it comes to buying a gun there were many things still left out for the sake of time and space, such as whether or not you're considered mentally ill and other positions in life where certain people cannot purchase a gun. Governmental agencies and experts will spend hundreds of labor hours trying to make sure that laws such as the ones mentioned above are clearly defined, tidy, and specific. When in doubt, always visit your local FLL and get expert advice from them. Optics Planet Logo - Gun Classifieds