Illegal to perform private transfer on WA State FFL property?


December 9, 2008, 11:14 AM
Was wondering how well people know the laws regarding performing a private transfer in the parking lot of a licensed firearm dealer? The below happened yesterday in Washington State, and I thought it may be a good heads up for others if it's something that could lead to trouble for you or the dealer...

No need to call out the name of the actual business, so I'll just call the place ACME Guns.

Met a guy in the parking lot of ACME Guns to buy an SP101 off him, and after a couple minutes of talking and looking at the pistol in the trunk of his car - I handed him the cash. An employee that was in the parking lot walked over to us and asked "you guys aren't making a deal here are ya?" we told him that we indeed were. He said that it was illegal and that ACME Guns could lose their firearms license because of it. He then instructed us that I needed to take my money back, and we needed to leave the premises immediately. He said that we weren't banned from the business, and they would welcome us back another day - but we were on camera and were required to leave the premises immediately. We then drove a few blocks away, and made a quick trade since the pleasantries were over and went our separate ways.

It was actually one of the most friendly encounters I've ever had at ACME Guns - and I don't really have any sore bones about it. I do however question if there is something illegal about people making a private transfer on their property or if they just want to have a piece of the pie when it comes to transfers - anybody know?

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December 9, 2008, 11:26 AM
Sounds like one of those fine legal details that probably needs to be obeyed.

Probably something to do with all transactions having to be recorded through the background check process. yada yada yada.

Sounds like the ACME guys handled it politely and diplomatically - and you did too.

December 9, 2008, 11:55 AM
That's BS. I've never heard anything about that, and I'm pretty well versed on WA state law. It sounds like some of the bad legal advise that you get for free at gun shops. They rarely ever know what they are talking about.

For example, the range near me said that they will be offering a suppressor class, but only rental suppressors will be used, because shooting your own would be illegal, but it would be legal to shoot the rental suppressors if you were part of the class. FYI, shooting a suppressor in WA is illegal period. Class or no class. LEO or non-leo. Class III dealer, or not a class III dealer. There are no exceptions. But it's also an unenforceable law. Anyway, another shining example of gun shop people thinking that they are lawyers.

December 9, 2008, 12:53 PM
I agree, that sounds like a bunch of nonsense. While the FFL may not like private deals taking place in his parking lot, I'd be dan suprised if it was illegal to do so.

I'm voting for it being a CYA/loss of business issue for the FFL, and therefore something he does his best to discourage.

December 9, 2008, 03:13 PM
Parking lot OWNED by the shop? If so, it is part of their licensed property. Can you conduct a FTF sale inside their premises?

I don't know the answer to that, but I suspect somebody will chime in here with a definitive answer.


December 9, 2008, 03:29 PM
I don't know about WA state law. From an ATF standpoint, a dealer is supposed to keep track of every gun at his premises.

At the last ATF meeting I went to, they explained that this included things like your store employees' concealed weapons. They recommended having a sheet with the employee's name and the gun he concealed (serial number, etc.) That way, there was at least some record of the gun being on the premises.

This sounded pretty strict to me, since the employee would be coming an going with the gun, but that is what they said.

The point I'm trying to make is that whether it is actual law, store policy, or ATF policy, it probably isn't in the best interest of the shop to have off the book gun sales taking place anywhere on their property.

It sounds like all parties handled this one well.

December 9, 2008, 04:02 PM
I don't know about WA state law. From an ATF standpoint, a dealer is supposed to keep track of every gun at his premises.

Funny, as a customer I've never had to check in my gun or let them know that I'm carrying. I can't imagine that they would be in violation of the law for not having on file the serial number of the piece I was carrying when I was in there last.

December 9, 2008, 04:23 PM
Hmm. I once did a deal with a distributor who was paying a visit to a local gun store. I had bought a gun off him at a gun show but had to wait 24 hours to pick it up. He suggested we do it at the resturant down the road so he would not be seen as infringing on his dealer's business (he wasn't concerned it was illegal).

This was Illinois.

December 9, 2008, 09:54 PM
I can see absolutely no reason for it, especially if the dealer had no knowledge of what was going on.
I regularly send people off-premises to do face to face deals.
And ATF is funny about personally owned weapons on licensee property. Their ruling will depend on who the agent is, what he had for breakfast, etc etc.

December 10, 2008, 06:09 AM
I've been told it is a federal rule/law/regulation not to do private sales on FFL's property.

This is from a FFL in Illinois.

I do not know for certain either way.


December 10, 2008, 06:53 AM
Below is what the 2005 Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide says. I pertains specifically to firearms that are part of the dealers personal collection. It is a far reach to apply this to firearms carried by customers or to private sales on dealer's premeises. I purchased two firearms from a private seller on the counter of an FFL (they also operated a range). I was told by them it was not illegal, but it could cause problems for them and to please take it outside next time. They said nothing about not doing it in their parking lot. But, it's the dealer's parking lot, so they can ask you not to do certain activities there if they want....

Industry Circular 72-30
Purpose. The purpose of this circular
is to urge licensed firearms
dealers to identify their personal collection
of firearms kept at the business
Scope. The provisions of Section
923(g), 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, and
Subpart H of the regulations (27 CFR
178) require all licensed firearms
dealers to maintain records of their
receipt and disposition of all firearms
at the licensed premises. Section
178.121(b) of the regulations and the
law further provide for the examination
and inspection during regular
business hours or other reasonable
times of firearms kept or stored on
business premises by licensees and
any firearms record or document required
to be maintained.
Guidelines for Identifying Personal
Firearms on the Business
Premises of Licensed Dealers. A
presumption exists that all firearms on
a business premises are for sale and
accordingly must be entered in the
records required to be maintained
under the law and regulations. However,
it is recognized that some dealers
may have personal firearms on
their business premises for purposes
of display or decoration and not for
sale. Firearms dealers who have
such personal firearms on licensed
premises should not intermingle such
firearms with firearms held for sale.
Such firearms should be segregated
from firearms held for sale and appropriately
identified (for example, by
attaching a tag) as being "not for
sale". Personal firearms on licensed
premises which are segregated from
firearms held for sale and which are
appropriately identified as not being
for sale need not be entered in the
dealerís records.
There may be occasions where a
firearms dealer utilizes his license to
acquire firearms for his personal collection.
Such firearms must be entered
in his permanent acquisition
records and subsequently be recorded
as a disposition to himself in
his private capacity. If such personal
firearms remain on the licensed premises,
the procedures described above
with respect to segregation and identification
must be followed.
The above procedures will facilitate
the examination and inspection of the
records of firearms dealers and result
in less inconvenience to licensees.

Jeff F
December 10, 2008, 08:09 AM
Many years ago I was a member of an indoor range that also was a dealer/FFL. One of the other members had a Smith 29 for sale. One of the owners of the range told us to go do the deal out in the parking lot away from the building, something about the law and not doing the transaction on the premises. The parking lot was not just for the range, but for a few other shops and businesses as well which could have made a difference.

December 10, 2008, 08:52 AM
I think he was just being careful. If someone from the ATF had seen you or looked at the security camera for the parking lot it could have caused problems for the shop and you with a lot of questions being asked. Not illegal, but, how would an ATF agent know that he didn't just purchase the firearm from the dealer, take out to the parking lot and hand it over to you. That would be a straw purchase and could put you and the dealer in hot water until someone could prove where the pistol you were buying came from and when. More a please don't do that here because we want to keep our license thing.

December 10, 2008, 09:05 AM
It works the same way here in Illinois and I am betting everywhere else.
Two individuals CANNOT make a private transfer of a firearm in the licensed premisis of a Federal Dealer without the Dealer logging the firearm and conducting the transfer as any other on site business transaction.

Failure to do so can causes charges against the licensed dealer for allowing the possibility of a straw sale.

Taverns can lose their liquor license for allowing patrons to pound on each other in the bar.
Gun dealers can lose their license for allowing patrons to sell each other guns in the shop.
Being nice can get you in a load of trouble.

December 10, 2008, 12:23 PM
Sounds more and more like it was a legitimate request with solid backing - thanks for the details everybody.

Jim K
December 10, 2008, 01:28 PM
Whether it is or isn't illegal to do a private transfer on a dealer's property, it certainly is discourteous and offensive.

It would be like someone pulling a hot-dog truck into a restaurant parking lot and competing with the restaurant. They would be entirely justified in telling him to leave.


December 10, 2008, 01:35 PM
A former neighbor of mine (good riddance) used to tow his little hot dog cart to the parking lot of every local gun show. They got tired of him real fast because his dogs were cheaper than the hot dogs inside.

He even went back once and tried selling dogs out of the back of his van, but they caught him anyway.


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