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Shipping handguns via UPS, FedEx, US Mail

20469 Views 19 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  JEM
Short question:

After I purchase my 1911, is it legal to ship it to my home in Arizona via UPS, FedEx, or US Mail? (I am not an FFL dealer.)

Long explanation:

I am a CA resident, and I am currently attending college. I live in the dorms on campus. As you may know, it is illegal for me to keep a handgun in the dorms. However, my family has moved from CA to AZ, so I can't simply buy the gun and take it home to keep it there. Even if mailing it to my home in AZ is an option, I'd appreciate any other suggestions you may have, because I now almost feel as if I gave up my 2nd amendment rights when I moved into this dorm. (And no, I can't move off-campus; the rates here in SF are atrocious!
) Basically, I will be graduating in December, then I plan to go home to AZ for a month or so. Then I will be moving to Los Angeles for an extended period of time. That is why I am purchasing my 1911 as a CA resident; I am not an AZ resident (as much as I'd like to be.
), and I'll be living in CA for the next few years.

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Make arragements with the dealer to ship the pistol to another FFL dealer in your hometown. That is the safest bet. Shipping a handgun across state lines is very iffy unless you have an FFL yourself.

D. Kamm
USGI M1911/M1911A1 Pistols Website
It can't be picked up in anyone else name. If you buy it and plan to ship it to your dad or mom or anyone in Arizona. Have it shipped in their name and take ownership if you choose by their signing it in your name via a private sale. A good idea being you are in a very unfriendly gun state.
Why don't you find a good range that has a storage area for people in your situation? I work at a University, and the USC PD has a policy where they will store your gun for you to take to the ranges and for weekend hunting. Check with the campus police about this. But then again, I'm in the land of free guns, South Carolina. Hell, even our Democratic governer signed pro gun legislation protecting gun ranges and amendments to the CWP license.
One more thing on shipping as I am an FFL retailer and do this on a regular basis.

There are exceptions as always and I am not an authority on those.

I always go FFL to FFL and that is for sales both to and from, no matter what folks want or demand or come up with to save or try ways around as split guns in parts to save a couple of dollars.

That way there is a defined line of responsibility and no grey area for any BATF audit.

Repairs can go from and individual owner to and authorized repair facility and back to the individual.

One lesson very painfully learned by some is INSURE, INSURE, INSURE, for full RETAIL replacement cost for whatever you ship and have signature receipt on the receiving end.

Whether the shipper has it signed for is the shipper's problem but if the package can get lost in transit it will. Murphy was an optimist.

I have had four sent to never, never land so far over 9 years. All of them do it. Postal, UPS and FedEx.

I am currently in a "missing child" status with FedEx over a Richard Heinie gun miss- "something or other" and the claim is on 12 weeks and still not settled. Gee, no one in the FedEx chain is responsible again!

I hope this helps in a small way but be sure to insure.

Be safe and keep the brass flying

Terry Peters


Do your research but you get what you pay for front end or back end.
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I am by no means an expert but I do like to stay on the right side of the law. From what I can gleen in the regs of Title 18 sec 922
( http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/922.html ) I would go through an FFL each way. That means shipping from an FFL to an FFL in each state and back again when you move back. It may seem a bit over cautious, but better safe than sorry. I don't know about anyone else, but the only ATF I ever want to deal with is the red fluid in my Buick's Dynaflow transmission!
Terry, that is bad advice.

The law is as follows:

When shipping across state lines, the gun must be shipped TO either an FFL OR the owner. Thats it. So, if you ship your gun to an "Authorized repair facility", gunsmith, or whoever, they had better have an FFL (or is that the authorization you were refering to?). You can also ship it to yourself, such as if you had a second residence in another state.
Wow, you guys are great.
Thanks so much for your advice. The community that we have here on this forum is simply incredible.
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you can ship it on two parts ie: slide one package and the frame in package two. you can ship them to your self at your parents house and this can be done using the good old U.S. post office......but insure,insure,insure
Originally posted by JOEE:
you can ship it on two parts ie: slide one package and the frame in package two.
Wrong. The frame is the gun acording to the BATF, whether any parts are on it or not it makes no difference.
Hi All

I too ship guns, usually 4-6 per day.

Ups "requires" (the ups tax) it be sent next day air. They Also "require" adult signature required. that is an add on of 2.75

So I called Fed ex to come in. they spend an hr here and I asked about 3 day handgun shipment. fine

from here to Ca. ups air is 31.00 fex ex
2 day is 15.00 add it up each way and the customer is a happy guy. Send a gun from the left coast to do an action and insure it for 1k (we do for all guns) and the freight round trip is 76.00, more than the job.

Fed ex called today
Min. 50 hand guns ship PER day
all must be next day air. or they are not interested.

does anyone have plan C ??

geo ><>
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Since you are in CA I can pass on experience and word from the CA DOJ. It isn't necessary for the shipper to be an FFL holder, but the recipient must be. Handguns can't be shipped USPS by non FFL. As far as your situation goes. Just like others stated, it must be "common carrier" FedEx, UPS, etc, and must be next day air. I don't know how this would help your situation any though. Ship it to an FFL in AZ, and it will be transfered to whoever takes delivery.
Since he is going to AZ. Can't he just ship it to himself UPS overnight? He will be picking it up in AZ fairly soon. That is what I would do and if you read the BATF stuff, I think they explicitly state that shipping a gun to yourself is ok, or to an FFL for repair. FFL's are dealers not postmen.

"I don't want to use a 2 million dollar bomb to bomb a 10 dollar tent and hit a camel in the ass. . ."
You cannot ship your gun from one state to the other without going through a licensed dealer with the following exceptions:

1. Shipping to manufacturer for repairs
2. Shipping to licensed gunsmith
Thanks again for the info guys. To be honest, shipping it home to AZ is going to be a last resort. I'm going to see what I can do to keep it here in CA legally while I finish school.
Originally posted by PT-Partners:

One more thing on shipping as I am an FFL retailer and do this on a regular basis.


I always go FFL to FFL and that is for sales both to and from, no matter what folks want or demand or come up with to save or try ways around as split guns in parts to save a couple of dollars.
I would assume that someone having a vested interest in making a few bucks on each shipment would suggest always going FFL to FFL, but it certainly isn't necessary to remain 100% legal in shipping your firearm!

For unlicensed persons, pistols go by common carrier, not USPS, and rifles can go with either a common carrier or USPS. The destination must be either an FFL or you can ship firearms to a friend or relative if you're traveling there. They're not allowed to open the package or take possession of the firearm, but it's perfectly legal.
It has been brought to my attention that my statement may have been misintrepreted as advocating doing something illegal. This is not true, just poor writing skills on my part. I appreciate the "heads up" about the possible mis-reading of my post, let me try to clear the air.

What I was "trying" to say in the previous post was that it's 100% legal for any unlicensed person to ship a firearm to an FFL holder in any state for "any lawful purpose". Obviously, this includes transfers to another party, or shipments to a gunsmith or factory for repair or other work. It is also legal for the gunsmith or factory to ship your firearm directly back to you at your home address.

It's also legal to send your gun to yourself C/O someone in another state, but you must be the person that actually opens the shipment and takes possession of the firearm at the destination. If you are traveling to a friend or relative's place in some other state, you can ship your gun(s) that you wish to use there directly, no FFL need be involved.

I hope this clarifies what I was trying to say.
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I just sent my S&W to the factory for some work. UPS mandated overnight air. The explanation was that package control was stricter and they didn't want any handguns sitting on shelves in trucks or depos.
I have no idea on the legality of this, so please check if you're interested, but could you just get a safe deposit box in a bank and leave the pistol there?

That is a great idea. I did this and it worked great. The bank usually has a room were you can retrieve the contents of your box without being disturbed. The bank does not care or even want to know what's in your box. The down side is the bank has lousy business hours, so no evening or weekend shooting.

[This message has been edited by JEM (edited 10-16-2001).]
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