So Can People Purchase From FFLs Out of State Now?

Ammo and Gun

Despite today’s ruling, I’m fairly certain that most Federal Firearm Licensees are not going to sell to out of state buyers until they have guidance from ATF telling them it’s OK to do so. I don’t know whether or not that guidance will be forthcoming, and the government is almost certain to appeal the ruling and ask the Court of Appeals to stay the judges injunction until the appeals court rules. So celebrate, because we did win a victory, but don’t run off to a neighboring state to buy a handgun just yet. The current ruling enjoins the federal government from enforcing that provision of the Gun Control Act, but they could be permitted to enforce it again in the not too distant future. FFLs will wait until this case is fully litigated before beginning sales of handguns to out-of-state residents.

I saw someone ask whether this ruling would mean the approved handgun roster in Massachusetts would become dead letter in effect, if not in law. Keeping in mind I’m a lay person and not a lawyer, by my reading of the law, it may. Massachusetts law allows for purchasing firearms out of state, provided that you register them within seven days. The law about selling only handguns on their roster only applies to Massachusetts licensed dealers. So a New Hampshire dealer, not being a Massachusetts licensee, would not violate Massachusetts state law by selling an unapproved handgun. Federal law requires that the sale not violate the laws of either state. In this case it does not. California is another story, since it prohibits residents from buying out of state. Of course, all Massachusetts would have to do is, in the definition of licensee, add federally licensed dealers, and then out-of-state dealers would be forced to comply. So in short, it could endanger the handgun roster, but I’d be surprised of the legislature doesn’t change the law to preserve it. Of course, given the lack of guidance from ATF, chances are no out-of-state dealer would be willing to sell an off roster gun to a MA resident.

While private sales were not specifically challenged in this case, because of how federal law is worded, 922 (a)(3), which prohibits interstate transfers between non-licenseees, had to be struck in order to allow interstate sales through an FFL after 922(b)(2) was struck, since it would have been illegal to bring a firearm back after you purchased it. However, 922 (a)(5) was not enjoined, so it remains illegal to sell a firearm to someone from out of state, and so under conspiracy would also be illegal to buy from a seller if you’re not a resident of the same state as the seller. Again, I would ensure that everyone is aware that just because they are enjoined today does not mean they will be enjoined tomorrow, so there would be risk in conducting any interstate transfer that wouldn’t have been legal yesterday.

UPDATE: I’ve revised this post to incorporate some new information, and to make it more accurate. I’d also note on the scope of the ruling, Dave Hardy says that it’s unclear. I had previously thought it was worded such that it applied nationally, but then was told by someone who is an attorney that it would only apply in the 5th circuit. But Dave Hardy isn’t so sure.

15 thoughts on “So Can People Purchase From FFLs Out of State Now?”

  1. The decision is as applied which means it applies to the parties involved only. However it enjoined Holder and the DOJ from applying the statute . I guess that means that these folks are allowed to get their gun and Holder can not stop the sale

  2. This case just reinforces why Hillary must be stopped, to prevent her from packing the Federal Courts with anti-gun justices. Too many cases are bubbling up through the courts, too much freedom is at stake. Even the 2nd Amendment is at stake considering the 5-4 split on the Supreme Court.

  3. Since it is a District court ruling, I don’t see how it has any precedential effect even within the 5th Circuit. Isn’t it only appeals level rulings that apply precedent?

  4. So how would this apply to someone that lives outside the 5th Circuit while visiting say Texas? Would the transaction instantly become illegal once I tried to take the gun home to the my house in the 9th Circuit?

  5. one day we will destroy 922 , NFA, Gun control act, and ALL gun control executive orders

    we should never rest until its done.

  6. What a game changer. Such excellent news. With Brady this should have been gone years ago.

    If this does go through, it will make PAs nonregistry registry completely worthless. In fact didn’t they use the fact that people could move in from out of state and they don’t need to be registered as a reason it’s ok.

    1. If this does stand, it should pretty much destroy what little is left of PICS’s credibility. When are we going to stop wasting so much money on a worthless database? At this point we might as well spend millions to collect everyone’s favorite ice cream flavor.

      1. Still illegal to buy from a private seller in another state. This won’t affect PICS. Dealers in other states will still need to comply with PA law, meaning they would have to use PICS, and would have to complete the state police forms.

        1. So now we’re going to have all non-PA dealers get spun up on having to use PICS to sell a handgun to a PA resident? What does that entail, and why do I not see that ever happening?

          Doesn’t change the fact that the comprehensiveness of PICS is about the same as a database of lawnmowers because of Patrick the 2nd’s point above.

        2. Will an “interstate FFL transaction” have to comply with both states’ laws? The requirement to abide by both sets of state law in a out-of-state rifle sale appears to be an explicit feature of the law that struck down the interstate rifle sales ban. Absent federal action, state law cannot control outside of the state.

          I plan to dig for it in a bit for an actual post on the subject, but IIRC there is caselaw (concerning interstate cigarette sales) that would mmake it difficult for states to prevent legal transactions absent federal enabling legislation.

  7. Interesting, the judge ruled that this was a 2nd amendment violation AND and 5th amendment violation due to it being a location based discrimination. That will make the inevitable appeal more interesting since now the government has to argue against the 2nd amendment issue but also the due process clause of the 5th amendment. So he ruled for us in 3 ways, 2nd strict, 2nd intermediate, and 5th strict scrutiny

    So yay for multiple amendments!

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