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Can I Ship a Gun?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Want to start an argument? Bring up gun control laws. No matter which side of the debate you're on, everyone's got an opinion. Despite all the contention surrounding this issue, not everyone knows the intricacies of firearms laws.

For instance, is it legal to ship a firearm through the mail? And does it matter which carrier you use? Let's take a look:

Federal Firearms Laws

Shipping firearms is regulated by the U.S. Gun Control Act of 1968. The Act prohibits non-licensed dealers, manufacturers, or importers from shipping, transporting, or receiving guns. And carriers can impose their own restrictions on gun shipments.

For example, the United States Postal Service will not mail any "[s]hort-barreled rifles or shotguns that can be concealed on the person," and prohibits any markings on the outside of the package that indicate the package contains firearms. USPS will ship handguns, but only if they are certified as curios or relics and are on their way to a collector.

FedEx will ship guns, but only between "[l]icensed importers; licensed manufacturers; licensed dealers; licensed collectors; law enforcement agencies of the U.S. or any department or agency thereof; and law enforcement agencies of any state or any department, agency or political subdivisions thereof." UPS has the same restriction, so it also will not ship automatic weapons, nor will UPS ship any gun or gun part internationally.

State Shipping Statutes

Every carrier also acknowledges that gun shipments must comply with state gun control laws. State gun laws can vary significantly depending on where you live, and some states are known to have tougher gun laws than others.

While the restrictions on shipping ammunition and gun parts may be a little more relaxed, you should read each carrier's policies carefully before dropping anything in the mailbox. In essence, if you don't already have a license to ship a gun, you're better off leaving the mailing to someone who does.

If you need further clarification on gun shipment laws, or you're facing charges of illegally shipping a gun, you may want to talk to an experienced attorney near you.

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