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Licensure restrictions guidance

Federal law requires that persons who are "engaged in the business" of dealing in firearms be licensed by ATF. The penalty for dealing in firearms without a license is up to five years in prison, a fine up to $250,000, or both. It is your responsibility to know and follow the law in your jurisdiction.

Determining whether you are "engaged in the business" of dealing in firearms requires looking at the specific facts and circumstances of your activities.

As a general rule, you will need a license if you repetitively buy and sell firearms with the principal motive of making a profit. In contrast, if you only make occasional sales of firearms from your personal collection, you do not need to be licensed.

Courts have identified several factors relevant to determining on which side of that line your activities may fall, including:

  • whether you represent yourself as a dealer in firearms;
  • whether you are repetitively buying and selling firearms;
  • the circumstances under which you are selling firearms;
  • and whether you are looking to make a profit.

A person can be "engaged in the business" of dealing in firearms regardless of the location in which firearm transactions are conducted. 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.

Note that while quantity and frequency of sales are relevant indicators, 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 were also present.

If you have any questions about whether you need a license under federal law, we recommend that you contact your local ATF office (https://www.atf.gov/contact/atf-field-divisions) to evaluate the facts and circumstances of your particular case.

SOURCE:   "Do I need a license to buy and sell firearms?". Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). Retrieved 2018-01-18. https://www.atf.gov/file/100871/download