Guns and Gear

Obama Order Unclear If Gun Owners Without Federal License Can Sell To Dealers

REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Kerry Picket Political Reporter

A gun owner without a Federal Firearms License (FFL) who may want to sell or trade a firearm to a licensed dealer may run into trouble under President Obama’s executive action.

According to the White House, it does not matter where an individual conducts a business transaction involving a firearm — “from a store, at gun shows, or over the Internet: If you’re in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks.”

However, the Obama administration did not clarify if an unlicensed individual could sell or trade a firearm or a collection of firearms to a licensed dealer and still be compliant with the law.

As a result of the executive action, the administration says it is trying to ensure that anyone who is “‘engaged in the business’ of selling firearms is licensed and conducts background checks on their customers.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has stated:

“For example, a person can be engaged in the business of dealing in firearms even if the person only conducts firearm transactions at gun shows or through the Internet. Those engaged in the business of dealing in firearms who utilize the Internet or other technologies must obtain a license, just as a dealer whose business is run out of a traditional brick-and-mortar store.”

Additionally, the ATF points out that although quantity and frequency of sales are “relevant indicators,” there is no specific threshold number of firearms purchased or sold that triggers the licensure requirement, noting that “even a few transactions, when combined with other evidence, can be sufficient to establish that a person is ‘engaged in the business.'”

But if the seller does not have an FFL and the buyer does have a license, is the seller compliant with the law? The ATF made no mention of this particular situation, but the circumstances happen quite often.

Legal gun owners, for example, often purchase a firearm from brick-and-mortar stores and decide to sell or trade the weapon to the same or different licensed dealer.

Some gun owners decide to sell their collection of firearms, because they are moving to another state where the laws are far more gun restrictive than the state the seller lives in.

The Daily Caller sent an inquiry to the White House press office and is awaiting a response on the issue.

The ATF cautions that courts previously upheld convictions of people engaging in transactions without a license, when as few as two firearms were sold or when only one or two transactions occurred.

The criminal penalties for not complying with new mandates are harsh. An individual is subject to criminal prosecution and can be sentenced up to five years in prison and fined up to $250,000 for willingly engaging the business of dealing in firearms without an FFL.

But it is important to note that even a few transactions, when combined with other evidence, can be sufficient to establish that a person is “engaged in the business.” For example, courts have upheld convictions for dealing without a license when as few as two firearms were sold or when only one or two transactions took place, when other factors also were present.

Follow Kerry on Twitter