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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone! I just now joined this community hoping someone can answer some questions. I run an online vintage collectible consignment business and come across some pretty rare and cool firearms. I do not have my dealers license, so I'm wondering how I could go about selling very old pistols for consignors that have no paperwork. I have the chance to sell a Johnson and Bye/Defender 89, 32 Cal Revolver. This gun was used by burlesque dancers in the 20s for protection. Any guidance or offers will be greatly appreciated.




1,817 Posts
This is totally a matter of location, location, location.
Where your business is and where you intend to sell is critical.
If you live in San Francisco or New York City your kids cap pistol is the same as a machine gun to them.
If you live in fly over country, most places don't care what you're selling as long as it's not a modern firearm.

Guns made before 1968 didn't even have to have serial numbers and most older shotguns, rifles, and inexpensive pistols didn't.
So, unless you live in a "non-free" anti-gun state, there's no such thing as "paperwork".
Since few old guns were ever registered anywhere, there IS no paperwork to worry about.
Your having legal possession of it is all that's necessary.

Some areas require the buyer fill out the 4473 back ground check for any gun, others you don't need to do anything for a gun sold IN STATE.

These older guns are considered to be antiques and usually no paperwork is necessary in most areas.
Often these are chambered for obsolete calibers for which ammunition is unavailable or very hard to get.
A lot of these small pistols were chambered for rim fire cartridges that are no longer made.

If you ship across state lines you may have to use an FFL Dealer to transfer them even if they're considered to be unfirable antiques, just to protect yourself from something out of line where it's shipped to.
"In general" (note the qualifier) to be perfectly legal and safe you'd need to ship the gun to an FFL Dealer in the state your selling it to.

Shipping is another matter.
You CANNOT ship any pistol other then a black powder muzzle loader through the US Post Office UNLESS you have an FFL Dealer license.
You must use a shipper like UPS or Fed-Ex, and they have rules that pistols have to be shipped by the fastest, (and most expensive) manner to limit the time it's in their hands. This is to prevent their own people from stealing guns.
Also note you CANNOT ship through a UPS Store. They're not owned by the shippers and will not ship guns or knives, etc. You have to use a UPS or Fed-Ex Depot to ship.
Often if you have a friendly FFL Dealer, he will ship pistols through the US Post Office for you at far lower prices.

Some states and some cities may require the gun be transferred through an FFL Dealer, but in most places you can simply sell it to an individual, as long as he's in your state.
When selling a number of guns, the standard of what constituents "Being in the business" of selling guns is vague.
Selling guns from your collection to another collector is usually not "Being in the business".
Being an antique sealer who sells an occasional firearm is not "Being in the business".

Best advice is to contact the BATF office in your area and talk to them about this. Explain what type and age of guns you may sell, where you may sell to, and they'll tell you what you need to do to stay legal.
No, they will not stage a SWAT raid on your home.
BATF is actually usually very helpful for honest questions.
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