Question of the Day: Have You Scheduled Your Gun ‘Buyback’ Yet?


Reader AG writes:

“I’ve been wondering recently – could a private citizen conduct a ‘gun buyback’? Think of the collectibles and rare items you’d be able to come up with just by offering $100 gift cards.” The answer, of course, (in most states) is…absolutely. Transactions for firearms between two willing individuals are perfectly legal. And with a few notable exceptions, no background checks are necessary. Of course, there’s always the chance that someone may take the opportunity to dump a gun that had been used in a crime (cops never check that when conducting their so-called buybacks), so there’s always that risk. But as AG points out, think of the haul you could potentially make with a stack of $50 and $100 gift cards. When will you schedule your buyback?


  1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Not a bad idea really. Set one up in a retirement community. Advertise at the senior center.
    Dang, this is a pretty good idea. Might have to talk to a couple of friends.

    1. avatar doesky2 says:

      Sounds like a good travel around the country circuit.

      The only problem is the clunker guns.
      I wonder if this could really be profitable without turning away clunkers?

      1. avatar Joe says:

        Keep the good ones, turn the clunkers in at the next police buy-back and get paid for them.

        1. avatar doesky2 says:

          Hmmm…that almost sounds like it would work.

    2. avatar Cuteandfuzzybunnies says:

      Best part is anything that was junk could be sold at…a gun buyback.

  2. avatar NoID says:

    This….is genius.

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      …is probably considered engaging in the business of buying and selling firearms, however, so you’d better be an FFL unless you want the letters “ATF” embossed in your colon.

  3. avatar blahpony says:

    How would you deal with possible NFA items?

    1. avatar doesky2 says:

      Give the seller another $100 to meet you at a FFL that can accommodate long term storage of autos until paperwork clears?

    2. avatar Removed_californian says:

      Demill them in an ATF approved manner. Like the bottom of a lake. Because boating accident.

    3. avatar Brian says:

      Don’t buy ’em. Seems pretty simple

    4. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “How would you deal with possible NFA items?”

      I’m unclear on this.

      A while back a woman turned in a WW II trophy Sturmgewehr 44 at a police buy-back.

      WW II was *after* the 1930’s NFA law.

      Yet they mentioned the police found a buyer and got a nice pile of cash for the widow.

      Was that Sturmgewehr 44 war trophy registered with a stamp by that soldier when he brought it back ?

      1. avatar Juan Lago says:

        It’s possible that it was registered. Until the 1986 GCA you could still register a NFA weapon that had been registered before. A service member over seas may bring back weapons as war trophies with an ATF Form 6. Signed by an officer O-4 or above. Must be brought back on-person or shipped USPS via registered parcel post and picked up at the post office or APO / FPO. While I was in Afghanistan I sent quite a few rifles home and a couple of pistols. We were under the now infamous “General order number one”. That restricted us from drinking, smoking Cuban cigars, gambling or engaging in sex with anyone. Another restriction was that we could not ship home modern weapons. Only C&R types and no NFA. According to Federal law we could have, but when a Mormon General gets to set the overall orders, who can guarantee that anything that might be fun is forbidden.

  4. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

    I will schedule a Moms Demand Action gun buy back and also raffle off a date with Shannon. That will get some free press

    1. avatar Bob Wall says:

      And a “free press” is just the beginning of the fantasy, n’est pas?

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        That raffle is gonna be rigged, Bob.

    2. avatar thewiz says:

      i need new glasses. thought you spelled that t w a t. it fits her though

  5. avatar SCIENCE! says:

    I assume you’d need an FFL to do this? Especially if you planned to sell the ones you weren’t interested in.

    1. Nope. Transactions between two individuals (in most states) require no paperwork or license.

      1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

        Bought a g p245 in a chuck e cheese parking lot. . . . . cause kids

      2. avatar Another Robert says:

        Wait a minute. I thought if you conducted something like six or more transactions in a calendar year, you are considered a “dealer” and indeed must have a license. Is that not correct? EDIT: OOPS, I guess that’s if you SELL more than six in a calendar year, no?

        1. avatar SCIENCE! says:

          Yeah, that’s the sort of thing I was wondering about.

      3. avatar Tessius says:

        Honestly if I were to even consider this I’d probably want to use bill of sales for each transaction.

    2. avatar FedUp says:

      Do ATF agents still chat you up when they see you buy a gun at a show, and offer you an instant $200 profit if you sell it to them, and then arrest you for dealing without a license if you accept?

  6. avatar Colby says:

    This could also help drum up some conversation about the absurdity of other buybacks.

  7. avatar Dave says:

    Gun buybacks don’t accomplish their intended purpose per

    But they do give the impression that elected and law enforcement officials are doing something that improves community safety. Perception is so much more important than reality.

  8. avatar Grant says:

    Probably not a good idea in a lot of places. Legality means very little to our legal system.

  9. avatar amanofdragons says:

    Dang. Good idea, but I live in Washington. I will not comply.

  10. avatar Icabod says:

    Thread drift. Would it be possible to get the serial numbers of the guns obtained in a buyback? Then compare them to a list of lost, or stolen guns? I suspect most will be legit but there would be the occasion OMG discovery.

    1. avatar d hoov says:

      That’s okay. Thats where you get brownie points from LEO’s when you hand them a possible murder weapon that can convict someone. It happens at Pawn Shops all the time.

  11. avatar Gunr says:

    The only buyback that I ever participated in was when I bought a new shotgun, many years ago for $25, later sold to a friend for the same price, and bought it back from him several years later, for still the same $25

  12. avatar gsnyder says:

    I expect to see this happen soon. Would be a great test in WA State where they are not enforcing I-594 transfer law. As many at TTAG know, a judge tols SAF they wouldn’t see arguments against as no one had yet to be convicted.

  13. avatar Ralph says:

    I thought about buying my gun back from myself, but I’m holding out for a better price.

  14. avatar Chris T from KY says:

    How do I schedule the bullets delivery first?

  15. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    If you’re showing up with thousands of dollars in gift cards or cash and advertising to the general public, you’re going to attract ATF attention. When you turn around and try to sell those guns and it becomes clear they weren’t for your personal collection, but rather for-profit transactions in the trade, then they’re going to apply the loosely defined legal term “dealer” to you.

    Then you’ll be charged with firearms dealing without a license. If any of those guns happen to have a shady provenance, you could get entangled in those investigations and possibly prosecutions, too.

    Aside from all that, the only way you could really gain from all of this includes royally screwing over many well meaning, unknowing and trusting people. Pure D-bag operation.

    Now, if you want to show up at an actual “buy back” event and just outbid the police, then that’s cool. Those guns were getting turned in anyway and you’re paying the owners more. Plus you’re preserving the guns in existence and sparing the taxpayer the expense of buying and destroying them. Cool move.

  16. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Kinda’ difficult in Illinois-gotta’ call state po-leece for foid crap…and I’d hate to have an overly enthusiastic cop/prosecutor intervene. Indiana on the other hand…

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      Kissing booth? Although her face would probably cause a lot of lacerations…

      1. avatar barnbwt says:

        In regards to Dirk, regarding Shannon Watts (of course)
        FFS, TTAG, the comments have been in varying states of broken for like…ever, now.

  17. avatar dhoov says:

    Set it up on Friday and Saturday afternoons. All the alcoholics, drug addicts, club hoppers and pretend rich boys will sell them to you cheap so that they can get their fix /es. lol
    Don’t believe me? Look at Craigslist on those days. Prices drop and new things come up for sale cheaper than normal.

  18. avatar d hoov says:

    Open it on Friday and Saturday. More people need money then because they like to drink, party and impress people. Look at Craigslist. Prices go down on high dollar items on these 2 days. I’ve purchased new iPhones for 2-300 bucks and resell them for 5-600 on eBay.

  19. avatar David P. says:

    I have my “gun buyback” starting right after thanksgiving. It amazes me how many people forget Christmas is December 25 and that heating bills go up in the winter. Some gift cards or that months gas bill will buy a lot of guns

  20. avatar Svit says:

    If you were buying just for your own collection, it would probably be OK, but not if you were going to be engaging in resale of many of them.

    While federally you are allowed to sell guns from your collection as a private individual with no paperwork, you are not legally allowed to engage in the “trade or business” of buying and selling firearms without an FFL. What constitutes doing that is not precisely defined, but best not left to chance.

    Full definition of a “dealer” who needs an FFL:

    “A person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms, but such term shall not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms” (18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(21)(C));

    1. avatar Stinkeye says:

      I suspect this kind of “private buyback” scheme is one of several reasons why “dealer” is not precisely defined in the regulations. So they have wiggle room to go after people who are doing something that, on its face, may seem legal, but that they don’t like.

      You might get away with this once. But try it a few times, and eventually, you’re going to get a visit from some guys in ATF windbreakers. If you’re lucky, they’ll just send two of ’em to shut you down. More likely, they’ll send a tactical team to shut down the “illegal arms trafficker”, after they’ve had an informant sell you a “crime gun”. Heck, you might win in court eventually, but getting a handful of decent guns for $100 each won’t be enough to pay the lawyer fees you’ll rack up…

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