Gun Law & Ownership Basics

Firearm Ownership Transfer

Under federal regulation, unlicensed arms dealers are allowed to transfer firearms to a resident of the same state as long as the seller has no reason to believe the individual is prohibited from possessing or owning a firearm. Certain restrictions apply from state to state, based on attorney general regulation. Unlicensed arms dealers, however, are strictly prohibited from transferring firearm ownership to residents of a state besides their own.

All out of state firearm transaction sales must be conducted through a local Federal Firearms Licensee liaison. Only after the intended recipient has passed a background check and completed an ATF form may they complete the firearm transfer.  Renting or loaning temporarily across state borders for sporting purposes is completely legal.


Only firearms subject to the National Firearms Act (NFA), which is machineguns, short-barrel firearms, silencers, and the like must be registered with ATF. Sporting and hunting firearms, such as shotguns and rifles, need not be registered under federal guidelines. But checking with your state attorney general is always advised, as gun laws do vary from state to state.

Convicts & Firearms

Though the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits persons who have been convicted of a “crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year,” from possessing and receiving firearms and ammunition, they are legally allowed to own an antique firearm. Defined as any firearm manufacturing before 1898, what an antique firearm can extend to replicas, so long as there was no modifications allowing for conventional, fixed ammunition. This means a convict can own any muzzle loading rifle, shotgun, or pistol which cannot use fixed ammunition and is designed to use black powder.

As defined by the ATF, convicts cannot possess or receive an “antique firearm” if it “(1) incorporates a firearm frame or receiver; (2) is a firearm which is converted into a muzzle loading weapon; or (3) is a muzzle loading weapon which can be readily converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechblock, or any combination thereof.” Moreover, because an “antique firearm” is not a “firearm,” it is lawful for a prohibited people to receive or possess black powder for use in an “antique firearm.”

Post-Conviction Reinstatement

Felons whose convictions have been expunged, or for which the person has been pardoned, are not considered convicted. Unless that person was expressly prohibited by the law of the jurisdiction from possessing firearms, they are legally allowed to possess and own firearms.

Otherwise, those convicted of a federal offense can only regain the ability to lawfully receive, possess, or transport firearms from an expressed Presidential pardon.  Meanwhile, for those convicted of a state crime, Congressional appropriation has prohibited ATF from spending any funds to investigate or act upon applications for relief from Federal firearms disabilities submitted by individuals. Therefore ATF cannot relieve those convicted of a state crime of the firearms restriction.