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What You Should Know Before Purchasing a Gun From a Pawn Shop

By Linda Long, Esq. on November 05, 2021 10:00 AM

Buying a firearm from a pawnshop can be a cost-effective way to purchase a gun for hunting, home protection, or to add to your personal collection. But there are some things that you should know before you purchase from a pawnbroker. Below, you will find everything that you will need to know before you decide to buy a gun from a pawnshop.

The Dealer Must Be Federally Licensed

First, every gun dealer, including pawnshops, must be federally licensed. Under the Federal Firearm Licensing Act, no business can sell firearms without having a license issued from the office of the Attorney General. The application must include the following:

  • A photograph of the applicant
  • The applicant's fingerprint
  • The fee for the license

Once a dealer is federally licensed, a dealer is permitted to transport, ship, and receive firearms and ammunition between states and from other countries for the period the license covers.

The Dealer Must Be Licensed by the State

You should know your state's laws about buying and selling guns and ammunition. There may be additional state licensure requirements. Note that for any dealer to legally sell firearms and ammunition, the dealer must have all applicable licenses.

Every Customer Must Pass a Background Check

A large part of legally purchasing a firearm is passing a background check. An issue that may present itself while your background check is pending is whether or not you have been convicted of a felony. People convicted of a felony often lose their right to possess a firearm for the rest of their lives after their conviction. Those laws vary by state. If you have additional questions about whether you can legally own a firearm with a felony conviction, check out FindLaw's directory of licensed attorneys.

Can You Legally Buy Ammunition at a Pawnshop?

Ammunition and firearms are subject to the same federal laws. All dealers must be licensed to sell weapons and ammunition.

Can You Sell a Gun to a Pawnshop?

Before you sell a gun to a pawnshop, you must know some vital background information. First, you need to know if the pawnshop has the proper licensure. The burden of proving good licensure is on the pawnbroker. A pawnbroker cannot legally sell or buy firearms without a federal firearm license. If the pawnbroker has the proper license, you can legally sell a gun to the pawnshop.

Steps To Sell a Gun to a Pawnshop

To legally sell a gun to a pawnshop, follow these steps:

  • Have the pawnbroker prove that the business is licensed to buy and sell firearms.
  • Have a photo ID that proves that you are of age to purchase a firearm (you must be 18 years old; in some states, you must be at least 21 years old).
  • Be prepared to have a background check run on you.

Can You Buy Shotguns, Rifles, Handguns, and Pistols at a Pawnshop?

Yes, you can buy a shotgun, rifle, handgun, or pistol at a pawnshop. Pawnshops typically are in the market for many different types of guns.

Can You Sell Paint Ball Guns at Pawnshops?

Paintball guns are not included in the list of firearms in the statutory language, so paintball guns are not subject to the federal requirements to buy and sell firearms. However, be sure to look into your state and local laws and regulations. Paintball guns may be considered just like any other merchandise you can buy and sell in a pawnshop.

Expansion of Gun Control Laws

A hot topic regarding gun control is the president's use of executive orders. Past administrations have not shied away from using the executive order power to respond to increased gun violence in the United States. On April 7, 2021, keeping in this pattern, the Biden Administration announced seven initial actions regarding U.S. gun control:

  • “Ghost Guns": Executive order to help close the loophole that allows individuals to buy kits that contain every component to build a gun without having to obtain a license or pass a background check.
  • A law that clarifies when a device, which may be marketed as a stabilizing brace, is effectively making a pistol a rifle. This was in direct response to the Boulder, Colorado, mass shooting in 2021.
  • “Red Flag Legislation": So-called “red flag legislation" allows individuals to petition the court to temporarily order a person who is in crisis from getting a firearm. In contrast, they are considered a danger to themselves or others.
  • The Department of Justice must issue an annual report regarding firearms.
  • A focus on the trafficking of firearms.
  • New evidence-based community violence interventions.
  • The Administration appointed a new director for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

It is essential that a gun owner or someone in the market to buy a gun keep up to date with the ever-changing laws and regulations about gun ownership.

Have Additional Questions?

For a complete picture of gun control laws in your state, contact an experienced attorney in your area.

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