Making a Private Firearm Sale

Here in Arkansas, you can buy or sell a gun from a private owner by exchanging money and exchanging the gun. Period. By state law, there are no other requirements. But there are consequences for selling to the wrong person. And if you don't show that you have taken some reasonable care when selling a firearm in a state that has no requirements on private sales, you can leave yourself open to civil or even criminal penalties.

In Arkansas, while the state imposes no requirements on private sellers, it is a criminal offense to knowingly sell a firearm to a convicted felon. There's the caveat. No requirements by law, but significant penalties for selling to the wrong person.

And then there's the potential civil nightmare if the gun you sell is used to harm someone. Your life as you know it could be over with for selling a firearm directly (or even indirectly) to a person who uses it to hurt or kill somebody else.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Well, you can only do so much, but you can do something simple that will show that you used reasonable care in selling a firearm. What you can do is prepare a simple form that has the brand and serial number of the gun on it. It should include your name as the seller, and should have blanks for the buyer's name and address, as well as a signature line that declares the buyer is not a convicted felon or excluded by law from owning a gun for any other reason. Have the buyer sign it, and then file it. That's it. Just reasonable information so that if the gun ever returns to you in the form of a criminal investigation or civil suit, you have shown reasonable care in the transfer of the weapon.

I have sold over a dozen guns to people in the last 12 months and every one of them has filled out this form. None had objected until today. A guy came over to look at my GLOCK 17 and was ready to lay down $450 until I asked him to fill out the form. His answer was "You're s_______ me!" I assured him that I wasn't and told him why I asked for the information. So how strongly do I feel about this precaution? He left without the gun. That strong.

Bottom line: If you live in a state that doesn't require anything for private firearm transfer, that doesn't mean you have to be stupid. If you bought your gun from a private owner with no paperwork, it's no big deal. But if you bought it from a dealer, your name and all personal information and background check is the only one that can possibly be traced back to the dealer and your corresponding firearm purchase.

The guy today said, "they can't trace it back to you". My question was, "then why are you worried about giving just your name and address to me?"

You see, it's foolish to believe that because a state does not allow "firearm registration" that the sale of the gun cannot be traced back to the original purchaser. Don't be foolish, and don't be swayed by someone offering the cash but refusing to give you basic information about themselves. If you do, then you could face the very real possibility of having a LE officer show up at your door or a civil summons delivered. From a criminal perspective, if the gun shows up at a crime scene, you have no evidence that the gun was sold to someone else, and you are now the suspect. In the case of a civil suit, without the sale info, it will make the case for the plaintive that you showed negligence and lack of concern for who you sold it to. And that little mistake could change your life forever.

Make the form. Require buyers to fill it out. If they won't, let them keep their money and leave without the gun. The sale is not worth the potential life disaster it could cause.