One of the things that our friends at the ATF really dislike are people who buy and sell guns for the purpose of making a profit without first obtaining a Federal Firearms License. Whatever your thoughts are on that, and I am all for people buying and selling whatever guns they want for whatever reason, it doesn’t change the fact that operating as an informal gun dealer without the FFL permission slip is against the law and the ATF will come down on you like a rogue comet if they catch you doing it.
Case in point, from Lee Williams on Substack: ATF targets 74-year-old Florida man selling guns at a flea market
Now to be fair, and I don’t like being in a position of having to qualify something like this, there are some important things to note in Lee’s post.
First, the ATF tried to talk to him and explain that he couldn’t keep doing this:
“According to court documents, on July 28, 2021, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) met with Palmatier and explained that if he wanted to continue to sell firearms he would have to apply for a Federal Firearms License (FFL).”
Palmatier, the ATF claims, ignored the agents’ warning. “Despite that meeting, Palmatier continued to sell firearms …” the press release states.
He was warned and said eff you in response. Whether that is noble or stupid I will leave it to you to decide but either way he clearly had attracted the ATF’s attention.
Then we see something else fairly important:
The ATF sent undercover agents to the flea market, who made “multiple controlled purchases” of firearms from Palmatier.
“At least two of the firearms purchased from Palmatier were subsequently linked to usage in two separate crimes,” the press release states.
That is going to get you busted. It also tells me he was likely buying guns from shady characters and then reselling those guns at flea markets.
It is pretty hard to determine just how many firearms you can sell without being a “dealer”. If you inherit a few guns and you sell those to get rid of them, you are probably OK (I am not a lawyer, not legal advice, etc.). If you buy a gun, decide you don’t like it after shooting a box of ammo and then sell it, even for a profit? Still probably OK.
The ATF just amended the form 4473 again and modified the language about buying and selling a little bit:
The last sentence of the certification statement has been changed from “I further understand that the repetitive purchase of firearms for the purpose of resale for livelihood and profit without a Federal firearms license is a violation of Federal law” to “I further understand that the repetitive purchase of firearms for the purpose of resale to predominantly earn a profit without a Federal firearms license is a violation of Federal law”.
What you will notice, highlights mine, is that they dropped the word “livelihood” and added the word “predominantly”, and that seems to shift it away from “selling guns to make a living” to “selling guns to make a profit”, and the burden appears to be heavier now on the seller.
Again, I am not looking to debate the right or wrong of it, just the facts, and the fact is that the ATF is paying attention to private sellers and if they perceive a pattern of buying and selling for the sake of making a profit, they will pursue you. You can guarantee that at flea markets and gun shows, as well as online at places like Armslist, the ATF is looking for people they think are breaking the admittedly (and intentionally) amorphous laws. I often get weird emails and text messages that scream “ATF”, like a weirdly stilted text message from a guy who asked about the availability of a handgun and then asked about shipping before stating this:
Oh you are an Illinois resident, and IL has waiting periods and you need a FOID card in order to purchase or even possess a firearm which is why I don’t sell direct to IL residents at all, but you want me to ship this handgun to an FFL in Oklahoma where you can’t do the transfer anyway because you aren’t a resident. Yeah, no thanks Mr. ATF Agent, that gets you blocked and reported as spam. I am confident that there are ATF agents, maybe some doing it full time, who are in cubicles prowling Armslist, Gun Broker, etc trying to get sellers to agree to do something illegal.
The point I am trying to make here, don’t be dumb. Whether it is right or not, it just isn’t worth it to be engaged in buying and then selling firearms to make some money because you are going to get on the ATF’s radar. Anything to do with guns, especially if you are notable for your political WrongThink, is going to attract increasing attention. Just don’t be dumb, you don’t want to be in a jail cell for any reason. You aren’t going to be of much use if SHTF behind bars.