Internet Gun Sales

I brushed past this topic real briefly once before, but in light of the fact that the shooter at NIU bought some Glock magazines from the same dealer that sold the VA Tech shooter his Walther P22, I wanted to address the misconceptions about internet gun sales, and the sale of ammo and accessories over the internet.

Myth 1: You can buy a gun online and have it shipped directly to your house.

Pretty much not true. If you go to a website like and purchase a firearm, that gun must be shipped directly to a Federal Firearms License holder in accordance with federal law. Then, that FFL holder is going to run a background check on you before he can legally transfer the gun from his possession to yours. There’s no “Internet loophole”, and there never has been.

There are two types of “guns” that can be shipped directly from one individual (or company) to another individual. These are guns made before 1899 and black powder firearms. Neither pre-’99 guns or black powder guns are viewed as “firearms” by federal law, and thus do not need to involve an FFL holder. A third class of guns, Curios and Relics must be shipped to either an FFL holder, or a holder of a Curio & Relic FFL license.

Myth 2: You can buy automatic weapons on the internet.

This is sort of true, in that it is possible to go to an auction site and purchase an automatic weapon; but that purchase is still subject to all the applicable federal laws that would normally go with the purchase of an automatic weapon. Which means the $200 transfer fee, the background check, and the outrageous prices usually associated with purchasing transferable machine guns.

This is also true about the purchase of silencers and other NFA regulated items. You can purchase them online, but the same National Firearms Act rules apply on the internet as in meat-space.

Myth 3: You can buy armor piercing handgun ammo online.

Also not true.  Armor piercing handgun ammunition is pretty much illegal, and heavily regulated by the BATFE.

When you get down to brass tacks, I think the biggest problem that a lot of people have is that the internet is some kind of online Wild Wild West show where people are running around buying automatic weapons and federal and state laws do not apply.  It’s just not true; federal and state laws apply to all firearms related transactions, even over the internet.  If you’re not 18, you can’t buy ammo online, you can’t ship guns straight to your house, and you can’t buy otherwise illegal firearms.


  1. RE: Armor Piercing ammo.

    Depends on how you define “Armor Piercing”. If you mean ammunition that can penetrate most police body-armor, then almost any hunting-rifle ammunition can be called “Armor Piercing”, and is available for purchase online.

    If you’re referring to Black-Talon-style armor-piercing handgun rounds, then no, they are not available online (to my knowledge).

  2. But Black Talon isn’t armor piercing. It’s expanding ammo, like soft/hollow points.

    If they had given it a different name, it probably wouldn’t have been restricted…

  3. Don’t forget that most states will allow in-state sales of long guns between private individuals to be done by a direct shipment to the home of the buyer. It’s just like being there in person, except you aren’t quite so close to each other.

  4. Sorry but you do not have your ‘facts’ straight on Internet firearms and ammunition sales.

    “If you go to a website like and purchase a firearm, that gun must be shipped directly to a Federal Firearms License holder in accordance with federal law.” This is not true for many gun transactions. Rifles can be shipped intrastate with no federal requirement to first be shipped to an FFL holder. Here is the BATFE rule on that: May a nonlicensee ship a firearm by carrier? A nonlicensee may ship a firearm by carrier to a resident of his or her own state or to a licensee in any state.” Note that you may ship to a resident of your state, and the receiver only need have alicense in another state! Of course some states may require shipment through an FFL, but not all of them do. C

    As for armor piercing ammo, I guess all the people at this address are in violation of the law, or otherwise it is legal to sell armor piercing ammunition: If that does not work, then go to and typoe in a search for “armor piercing”. You can routinely purchase ammunition that will pierce armor at any guns tore in the USA; and that includes body armor and armor plating. Heck a .308 and 30/06 will both pierce 1/4 inch steel armor, and maybe 1/2 inch steel armor. Of course, the BATFE forbids the sale of certain Armor Piercing ammuntion for which they supply a specific list and description unde rlaw and regulation. The truthe be told, there are many other types of armor piercing ammo that do not fit that ATF description, yet are truly armor piercing, and totally legal under federal law. So in other words, only armor piercing ammo as listed or described under Under Title 18, UNITED STATES CODE, CHAPTER 44 as amended by Public Law 103-322 The Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (enacted September 13, 1994) 18 U.S.C. CHAPTER 44 § 921(a)(17)(B) is illegal. Something like these two – removed from aid list, are legal under federal law (state law may differ): “5.56MM (.223) SS109 and M855 Ammunition, Identified by a green coating on the projectile tip…”, and “U.S. .30-06 M2 AP, Identified by a black coating on the projectile tip.”

    While I agree that many folks think wrongly about how someone can or cannot purcahse ammunition or firearms through use of the Internet, I find it important to get the facts right about such things; otherwise we look like uninformed noobs to the gun control crowd, and they can thus use that to their advantage.

    All the best,
    Glenn B

  5. When I used the term “armor piercing”, I meant as defined by the BATFE; I felt no need to call attention to the armor piercing properties of ammo that isn’t currently regulated.

    As to shipping firearms across state lines, the ATF rule you pointed out has been interpreted by courts and the ATF to mean that a firearm that crosses state lines must go to someone with a federal firearms license.

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