Knowing the right way to sell a gun doesn’t just keep you from running afoul of the law, it helps ensure that one of your firearms doesn’t end up wrongly implicating you should that firearm end up being stolen or used to commit a crime. Eagle Shows gives everyone a safe, secure place to legally buy, sell, and trade firearms, whether they’re professional gun dealers or hobbyists who just want to make space for something new in their collection. While any licensed FFL dealer should understand the requirements in place for a commercial firearm sale, the procedures for transferring a firearm when you’re a private citizen aren’t as well known and can vary based on the specifics of your situation. 

The Type Of Firearm Matters

The first thing you need to know is that the type of firearm determines how to sell a gun legally in Pennsylvania. There are separate provisions for long guns, such as rifles or shotguns, than there are for pistols, revolvers, and derringers. Likewise, National Firearms Act (NFA) weapons and accessories must comply with Federal regulations regarding their transfer. Antique firearms, while more straightforward, are also classified separately.

As Pennsylvania’s Largest Gun Show, we see a variety of firearms that is unmatched. Rather than legal advice, we’re offering the following guidelines as information to help you understand your rights and responsibilities when you are gun trading so you know how to sell a gun in a safer, state-approved manner. While we’ll cover the most common transfers, unique situations can and do arise, in which case you should always seek the advice of an attorney familiar with the Second Amendment and the Uniform Firearms Act (UFA).

a book titled 'gun law' is sitting on a table beside a gun and four bullets

General Gun Sales Guidelines

Under Pennsylvania gun laws, you cannot knowingly sell a firearm to someone who is prohibited from owning one. While common sense should be used, you can add surety by visiting a local gun dealer at their place of business or your local Eagle Shows gun show with the potential buyer and requesting a background check through the Pennsylvania State Police PICS system. It costs $2 for the state and most dealers charge a nominal fee for non-sales background check processing, but the peace of mind can be priceless. People prohibited from owning a firearm include minors, those who use illicit substances, undocumented immigrants, and those with a criminal record for certain crimes. If you ever have any doubts, remember, there will always be someone else willing to buy.

In addition, private sales may only occur between citizens of the same state and within the state they reside in. Interstate transfers, under federal law, always require processing by an FFL holder. While no processing is needed for the transfer of gun parts, such as an 80% lower receiver, once completed, these firearms are treated the same as commercially produced weapons for transfer purposes.

Selling Long Guns

Long gun sales are fairly easy to accomplish, as Pennsylvania does not require a background check for the private sale or trade of long guns. Settle on a price, decide where the sale will occur, and exchange money or firearms if you’re just trading guns. Keeping a record of the transaction for your own protection is strongly advised, which can include messages, screenshots, or even a simple bill of sale. These records never need to be turned in unless it becomes necessary for your own protection to prove you no longer possess a certain firearm.

Transferring Handguns

Handgun transfers between private individuals do require a background check in Pennsylvania. As noted above, a licensed state gun dealer doesn’t just know how to sell a gun commercially, they can help you process private transactions legally, including at gun shows. Both parties will meet with the dealer to provide the needed information and process the paperwork. The dealer will maintain their appropriate records. Once the background check is complete, assuming the sale is approved, money can change hands and the sale is complete. 

black pen placed on top of a 'firearm bill of sale' document

Transferring NFA Weapons And Accessories

Under Pennsylvania law, firearms that offer select or automatic fire capabilities, short-barreled shotguns,accessories like silencers, and other NFA items are considered offensive weapons and prohibited unless registered to the owner with the appropriate ATF approval and tax stamp. That also means that any transfer between individuals would also have to go through an FFL dealer licensed to process the transfer of NFA items. For these complex sales, which can include steeper registration fees and extended processing timelines, contact the dealer in question for guidance.

Antique Firearms Transfers

Antique firearms and replicas include guns made in 1898 or earlier, guns with matchlock, flintlock, or percussion cap ignition systems, or replicas of such guns that either do not use rimfire or centerfire ammo or only accept rimfire or centerfire ammo that is no longer commercially available. For the purpose of sales and transfers, the UFA does not apply. This means that no background check is needed, you can choose how to sell the gun. Care needs to be taken because resumed commercial production of obsolete ammunition could potentially mean the firearm you bought in a private sale as an antique now qualifies for UFA provisions again, complicating gun trading. 

Sell Your Firearms Legally And Safely

We don’t just want you to know how to sell a gun. We want you to know that we’re proud to offer a venue for outdoor sportsmen and Second Amendment proponents to do so safely. Eagle Shows are well lit, comfortable, secure, and support is available to help individual gun owners buy the gun they’ve been looking for, make room in their safe, or swap firearms for a new experience. Get your early access tickets to your local gun show from Eagle shows today.