Gun Control Debate: Loopholes, Part II – There Is No “Online Gun Store Loophole”
Liberals have now taken the “gun show loophole” argument into cyberspace. But despite their claims, there is no “online gun store loophole” for gun purchases.


As I wrote previously, despite the failures of any gun legislation to move forward — even the Manchin-Toomey amendment, hailed as a “compromise” that largely addressed expanding background checks, among other provisions — gun control advocates vowed the fight for gun control is not over. We should expect to see many of the recent arguments resurface later this year. Along with the so-called “gun show loophole” exposed here as a fraud, we can also expect to see the so-called “online loophole” again.

It is a myth to claim there is an “online loophole.” This myth is designed to sound scary to those who are ignorant of what the law already requires. A loophole is defined as “A way of escaping a difficulty, especially an omission or ambiguity in the wording of a contract or law that provides a means of evading compliance.” An online loophole could only exist if there were a law meant to restrict gun sales which some were evading by purchasing online.

What does the law say? According to the ATFE, per § 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(3) and (5), 922(d) “A person may sell a firearm to an unlicensed resident of his State, if he does not know or have reasonable cause to believe the person is prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms under Federal law.” And per § 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(3) “A person may only acquire a firearm within the person’s own State, except that he or she may purchase or otherwise acquire a rifle or shotgun, in person, at a licensee’s premises in any State, provided the sale complies with State laws applicable in the State of sale and the State where the purchaser resides.” The ATF further clarifies, per § 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(3) and 922(b)(3) “A person not licensed under the GCA [Gun Control Act] and not prohibited from acquiring firearms may purchase a firearm from an out-of-State source and obtain the firearm if an arrangement is made with a licensed dealer in the purchaser’s State of residence for the purchaser to obtain the firearm from the dealer.” So the law requires a buyer to buy in his own state or make an in-person purchase in another state; or, if purchased out of state and not in person, for the firearm to ship to a licensed Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL) in the buyer’s state, where it may then be transferred to the buyer. Note that all FFLs must conduct background checks through FBI-run NICS for every purchase, regardless of location.

In plain English this means it it 100% legal to purchase a gun from anyone in the state you live in; it is 100% legal to purchase in another state in-person at a licensed dealer; and it 100% legal to purchase from an out-of-state seller as long as the firearm is shipped to a licensed FFL in your state. This means you can find a gun to buy in paper classified ads, online classified ads, physical store retailers, and online retailers legally already. No loophole exists.

A buyer may legally go to online classified ads or auction sites like Gunbroker, Guns America, or Armslist and order (pay for) a gun, but if the seller is out of state, it must be shipped to a FFL in-state for the transfer (taking physical possession) of the firearm. Failure to do so is already a federal crime per § 18 U.S.C. 924(3)(C). If the seller is in your state, the law stipulates it is perfectly legal for the buyer to meet the seller in person to complete the transfer of the firearm, regardless of whether the parties first got in touch through an online classified, paper classified, met at a local fundraiser, or whatever. It is 100% legal under the law to purchase (pay for), a firearm from an online retailer such as as Atlantic Firearms, Centerfire Systems, or Bud’s Gun Shop, but transfer of the gun must be done via in-state FFL. It is not legal for those retailers to ship the firearm to your front door, like your last order from, however – it must go to a FFL. Shipping it to your front door, and not to a FFL, is already a federal crime.

Many gun control advocates continue to be either ignorant, or willfully ignorant, of what the existing law says in order to perpetrate these myths and scare or dupe the public. This is the basis for the “gun show loophole” and the “online loophole” arguments.

Education defeats propaganda. It is critical to examine precisely what the law and federal law enforcement agencies say about these issues.

By Matt MacBradaigh. Matt is a Christian, Husband, Father, Patriot, and Conservative from the Pacific Northwest. Matt writes about the Second Amendment, Gun Control, Gun Rights, and Gun Policy issues and is published on The Bell Towers, The Brenner Brief and PolicyMic.