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Shipping rifles to Alaska???

Discussion in 'Legal' started by larry_minn, May 6, 2013.

  1. larry_minn

    larry_minn Well-Known Member

    Relative was given guns from his dad decades ago. Father has been storing them as son moving around in AK. (and has guns he wants with him up there/ set at his folks in CO)
    With CO new laws he is concerned. (the giving was done decades ago, written down, signed....)
    So my question is. My understanding is you can mail/ship guns to yourself in country. COULD I (as his unpaid agent) box up his rifles, ship HIS RIFLES to him???
    Or would they have to go to FFL in AK? (some are really not worth shipping/ FFL fees....) I was hoping to put 2-3 rifles in each package.. :)
  2. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

    They would have to go through an FFL. Period. End of story.

    Also, I recommend the rifles be in a padded soft case inside their box. Shippers can be real monkeys, and occasionally you'll run into an anti-gun employee who deliberately damages guns (my shotgun's choke suffered damage during shipping that could only be intentional).
  3. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Well-Known Member

    Paid or unpaid, an "agent" has no more leeway under Federal law than anyone else........so, NO you cannot ship a firearm interstate directly to another person.

    Ownership of the firearms does not matter, possession does.

  4. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

    Father has possession and would be transferring possession to someone else. It's therefore an interstate transfer and must, under federal law, go through an FFL.

    Transfer is about possession, not ownership.

    Some definitions of "transfer" (emphasis added):

    Let's look at the statutes:

    1. 18 USC 922(a)(3), which provides in pertinent part (emphasis added) as follows:

    2. And 18 USC 922(a)(5), which provides in pertinent part (emphasis added) as follows:

    Violation of the federal interstate transfer laws can get the transferor and transferee up to five years in federal prison and/or a fine (plus a bonus of a lifetime loss of gun rights). I can't imagine any shipping or FFL fees being more expensive than that.
  5. ngnrd

    ngnrd Well-Known Member

    Of course, if the son flew back to Colorado for a visit, he could then take possession and make the shipment to himself back in Alaska.
  6. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    Yeah he should just do it himself on a visit. That's how I've dealt with the issue before. CAVEAT--that's assuming he didn't transfer possession.
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  7. smalls

    smalls Well-Known Member

    No, he may not. That would mean he took (illegal) possession BEFORE a legal transfer was done.
  8. larry_minn

    larry_minn Well-Known Member

    Thats what I suggested. That with savings in FFL fees, him being able to take many back in checked bags... it would pay for his trip. There are some screwy dynamics going on. (like most families) and I want to keep FIL from getting into trouble.
    I hinted yrs ago when he was down to take a couple back. He didn't want to bother.
    I "knew" I couldn't ship them to him except thru FFL. From everything I had read. Just thought it couldn't hurt to ask if anyone knew of exception. (that I could check out) I would NOT try to slip them "under radar"
    I know they are son's as I recall first time I visited/saw gun cabinet he said "These were my guns, I gave them to my son....."But he wouldn't mind you looking at them."
  9. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    Did he transfer them to his father in CO? If so that would be correct. But it sounded like he was just storing them in Colorado.

    Here's an example. If I go to Oregon and ship arms to myself from Alaska, I pick them up and stick them in the attic of my parent's house for my own use down there. Several years later I decide to send them back so I reverse the process. It is my understanding that no transfer took place to anyone but me. Though I do make that extra clear by locking them up and keeping the key. It is in effect a gratuitous lease of a little spot of attic space with no physical access to the firearms themselves by anyone but me. That's distinct from, say, tossing your firearms in your dad's gun closet without any clear understanding of what that meant. Is my method enough? I hope so, but I don't know.

    The real question here, and this may be something to clear up from the BATFE, is how they view the law of bailment in the context of firearm transfers. There's an often confusing legal zone between something like a storage unit, which is typically not a bailment, and say storing your unlocked, unsecured firearm at an FFL which almost certainly would be a transfer of legal possession. It gets fuzzier when you're talking about family arrangements.
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  10. larry_minn

    larry_minn Well-Known Member

    smalls???? For some reason it won't let me quote you. Ok now it works.

    [Of course, if the son flew back to Colorado for a visit, he could then take possession and make the shipment to himself back in Alaska

    No, he may not. That would mean he took (illegal) possession BEFORE a legal transfer was done.

    Why would that be wrong? Son owns guns, he has owned them for decades, while he was still CO resident. (is my understanding)
    I stored a gun there for a while myself. Was flying half dozen times a yr easy. So rather then deal with airport I just left pistol, ammo, holster,etc in CO at FILs. (with his permission) I took it back home as his (adult) grandkids were poking thru house when grandparents not home... I had it locked in case, gun cable lock thru barrel.... but hand grinder can remove anything.
    My wife left her rifle there for over 20 yrs. (in military) She brought it home. (as transfer was done while she was CO resident) Maybe MI has state laws that require this? Mn and CO do not (that I am aware of)
  11. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

    Of course he did. There would have been no formalities required. The father now has possession. Transfer is about possession, not ownership.

    If one wants to store guns with someone, he should assure that whoever he stores them with does not have access to them, e. g., in a locked case to which the other person doesn't have a key. That's why ATF advises that when you ship your guns to yourself in care of someone else the person receiving them should be instructed not to open the package.

    On what do you base your belief? As noted in the definitions of "transfer", a change is possession, not necessarily ownership, is a transfer. And as used in 18 USC 922(a)(5) "transfer" includes a change in possession even if not a change in ownership.

    Possession means:

    And that (locking them up so only you have access) can makes all the difference. You should understand that details count.

    So what? See above. "Transfer" is about possession, not necessarily ownership.
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  12. smalls

    smalls Well-Known Member

    Because (as has been mentioned multiple times in this thread) :
  13. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    The lack of any bailment of the firearms and the lack of physical access to the firearms. Unless there's a bailment possession has not changed. Though in hind sight is would seem wise to make things abundantly clear and put it in writing.

    I don't know what this guy did with his firearms specifically, and we're getting the information third hand, but if his dad has the guns mixed up in his own stuff and could take them out and shoot them then I think we have bailment at the very least and transfer of possession. As you say the details count, and we don't have the details.
  14. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

    In your situation, as you described it, your guns were locked up so no one but you had physical access. So I'd agree that there was no transfer.

    Or access gives possession, and that is a factor from which bailment may be inferred.

    And since we have no reason to conclude that the father did not have access to, and thus possession of, the guns, I would not assume that he did not. This downside of a mistake in that direction, i. e., incurring unnecessary FFL fees, is much less serious than of a mistake in the other direction, i. e., becoming eligible for up to 5 years in a federal slammer.
  15. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Well-Known Member

    BATFE actually discusses basically this point in their FAQ on what to do with NFA items if you move to a state that doesn't allow NFA items.


    If keeping the guns in a locked room or container to which only the owner has the key is good enough for BATFE on machine guns, it seems likely they would accept the same standard for non-NFA items.

    I have no idea how that applies to the original question of shipping, but when it comes to storing guns out of state in someone else's home that seems to be BATFE recommended practice/kosher so long as those storing the guns do not have access to them.
  16. General Geoff

    General Geoff Well-Known Member

    Interesting theoretical. If person A puts his gun collection into a locked safe in person B's house before moving out-of-state, could person B legally ship the entire locked safe to person A later, without violating federal law?

    If so, it could be argued that a hard-sided case with a lock is the same as a safe, and as long as only the owner has the key to it (and it hasn't been picked or broken open), it would be legal for anyone to ship said hard-sided case to the original owner, across state lines. Again, theoretically speaking.
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  17. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Well-Known Member

    Absolutely not.
    That would still be an interstate shipment of firearms and subject to the same regulations as any other shipment.

    You could argue that, but you would lose.;)
  18. General Geoff

    General Geoff Well-Known Member

    How is a locked container any different from a sealed shipping package?

    Basically what I'm getting at is that if person A puts a rifle into a shipping container, seals it, addresses it to himself, and puts postage on it, then that shipping package could sit for months or years and still be given to a courier by any party, and be shipped legally across state lines to person A. What you're saying is that only person A is allowed to put it in a shipping container, regardless of access to the firearm? What's so special about a cardboard box with name and address on it?
  19. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Well-Known Member

    So under Dogtown's theory, it works like this...

    You can drive your cased/locked rifle to another state, leave it at a friend's house in that state, and return home to your own state. As long as you retain the keys to the case, no transfer has taken place.

    You can then get on an airplane, fly back to your friend's place, pack the cased rifle up in a box and ship it via UPS to yourself care of a hotel in Alaska where you plan to stay. No transfer has taken place.

    But the hotel cannot ship the unopened box back to you in your home state. You would need to go to the hotel and send it to yourself.
  20. smalls

    smalls Well-Known Member

    No, because you can't leave it under your friend's possession without a transfer.

    Whether he knows it's a firearm or not is irrelevant. Just like being in possession of stolen goods, you don't really need to know they're stolen to get pinched.

    I know a lot of us are either broke or just cheap, but with very few exceptions you are NOT going to get around FFL fees. Legally, anyway.

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