The COVID-19 pandemic was a watershed moment in the firearms industry, and it led to a paradigm shift from a more brick-and-mortar-store centric approach to online sales. Even big retail stores have now realized the tremendous importance of firearms eCommerce.
This has led to a rapidly burgeoning online firearms marketplace. However, you should consider certain legal aspects before you hop on the bandwagon of this lucrative industry. This holds particularly true today than ever before, and you must fulfill all the legal formalities before opening your firearms eCommerce outlet. Some of the key issues include the following:
Apply for a Federal Firearms License (FFL)
You will need an FFL if you are serious about selling firearms online. You may apply for an appropriate FFL type from the BATF, i.e., the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. It is imperative to understand that you cannot send firearms directly to the end customer. Rather, you have to route them to the FFL dealer closest to your customer, who will subsequently pick them up from that store to complete the transaction. The brick-and-mortar store dealers will charge a small commission that you should factor into your margins.
State and Local Laws
You must familiarize yourself with all the laws and regulations regarding online firearms sales in your state and local jurisdiction. Compliance requirements may vary in different jurisdictions and include record keeping, waiting periods, and licensing.
Your website should clearly mention the age restrictions as they apply to firearms sales in the U.S. Federal law doesn’t allow the sale of handguns to individuals under 21 years, while long guns are restricted to those who are at least 18 years old. Many states have even stricter age requirements. You have to check prior to sending the item to an onsite FFL retail outlet.
You should always comply with all relevant federal and state background checking requirements for every potential firearm purchaser. Here, you may have to apply for the NICS or National Instant Criminal Background Check System for rapid background checks to ensure the weapons end up in safe hands.
Make Sure You Understand the Concept of Restricted Sales
Certain types of firearms have restrictions that require further processing before they can be sold. These include fully automatic weapons, short-barreled rifles/shotguns, and suppressors/silencers.
Online Sales Compliance
Implement a robust and effective age verification system on your eCommerce site to help prevent sales to ineligible customers. You must ensure your online platform is fully compliant with all the applicable laws and you are cognizant of your responsibilities. These include privacy protection, secure data storage, and proper encryption.
Apart from the above, it is very important to invest in a gun-friendly eCommerce platform such as Make Ready Arms. They will help ensure you know precisely how to set up an online gun store.
Best of luck with your new business venture!