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Can my wife ship to me?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by michaelbsc, Jan 25, 2013.

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  1. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    I'm working in WA for a while, but I live in SC. Just this past week I now have a valid non-resident permit.

    I read a lot of stuff, but I'm not exactly sure. I know I can ship to myself. I know my next door neighbor cannot ship to me.

    In SC, my wife and I are considered a single legal entity for many purposes. If she buys a new washing machine, I'm on the hook for it too.

    But what's the Federal rule about shipping a handgun? Can she legally stuff it into a UPS box and ship it to me? Or is that outside the boundary?
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2013
  2. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

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    It is illegal for her to ship the gun to you without informing the carrier IN WRITING that the shipment contains a firearm, 18 USC 922(e). No carrier will ship the firearm from one private party to a different private party in another state.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  3. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Unless someone can come up with a precisely on-point approval, I would not take the risk. Shipping firearms to you on your order would be akin to shipping them to yourself, but it isn't exactly shipping them to yourself. The only time I've done it is when I literally drop them off on one end and pick them up on the other. Particularly if she's packing and labeling them, it sure seems like they're in her possession. And this "one legal entity" business won't fly with the feds. I suspect they'd view this as her shipping to you, which is a transfer.

    And as noted, there's no way a common carrier would do it anyway. They'll make you ship it overnight express to an FFL.
     
  4. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    This is about what I'm thinking too. But shipping to myself is nuts. Next time I go home I can just bring it back in checked luggage and declare it to TSA.
     
  5. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    ^^ Or have her simply bring it out to you..
     
  6. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    I am a little curious how the BATFE looks at the guns in our safe.

    By SC law, a community property state in the strongest sense, everything in there belongs to both of us in common. There's no title that shows the .380 she normally carries is hers and hers alone. If I put it in my pocket and walk out the door no one claims it isn't mine too.

    But does the BATFE think I've "transfered" everything in the safe to her because I left the state for the duration of this contract? Is she "transferring" them back to "us" on the weekends I'm home?

    Are some of them "mine" alone, and she's stealing them if she takes one to the range? Or is she borrowing it? Or is it hers to take?
     
  7. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    Essentially, yes. "Transfer" is not about ownership. It's about possession.

    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:

    And for the purposes of federal law, while you are living and working in Washington State would most likely be considered a resident of Washington. See 27 CFR 478.11:

    It's not that in your situation you don't have an argument that it might be legally okay for your wife to ship the gun, but it's not a guaranteed proposition. Violation of federal law on interstate transfers can get one up to five years in federal prison (and a lifetime loss of gun rights). That's a very big downside.
     
  8. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    But it does sound like, since I've been here for months, and I do have an address that I use, I now "qualify" as a Washington resident at least for the remaining months I'm here.

    Ergo, while I could not purchase a handgun when I first got here, I can make the justification that I'm here now, and then use my WA address on the 4473.

    Do I have this right?

    Of course, there ain't much on the shelf these days, and it's all at a premium price. Not sure I'm willing to do this.
     
  9. Onward Allusion

    Onward Allusion Member

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    Yeah, but most gun purchases require you to show some kind of ID (Driver's License) to verify the info against the 4473. At least the ones I've been involved in.
     
  10. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Member

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    You are a resident of WA while living there, a resident of SC while you are living there.
    Federal law does not permit your wife to ship any firearm directly to you....to do so is a violation of federal law by both you AND your wife. Whether you own the guns jointly makes no difference.

    You can either:
    -go back to SC and bring the guns back with you as checked luggage.
    -go back to SC and ship the guns YOURSELF, to your address in WA.
    -have your wife ship the guns to a WA dealer. (i believe the WA dealer will charge you sales tax on the value of the guns in addition to any transfer fee)





    "Failure to notify" is small potato's compared to the Federal crime for an illegal interstate transfer of a firearm.;)




    "akin"? It's clearly a violation of Federal law to ship a firearm interstate to a nonlicensee. There are only a couple of exceptions and "wife to husband" is NOT one of them.




    Simply a Federal crime.
    Thats an illegal interstate transfer of a firearm.





    they don't give a rats hiney.
    What they care about is how the firearm is transferred interstate. It has nothing to do with ownership.


    Yes.
    What the state of Washington considers as "residency" is immaterial. For the purposes of buying a firearm, ATF says you are a resident of the place you make your home. A college student living in a dorm in Oklahoma is a resident of Oklahoma, when he returns to his family home in Texas....he's a Texas resident.

    When you fill out your 4473 you should list your "current residence address" as where you are currently living....obviously it's WA. You can use your SC drivers license as the required government issued photo ID and must submit a government issued document showing your CURRENT residence address in WA. (the dealer will record this "alternate documentation" on Que20b of the Form 4473)

    This "alternate documentation" must be government issued: a utility bill from a municipality, a hunting licence.....even a traffic ticket.
     
  11. xfyrfiter

    xfyrfiter Member

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    Call your local office of the BATFE, they might not know, but can put you in touch with someone who does, and in my experience were more than willing to help.
     
  12. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    There's nothing clear about it. If all the wife does is take a prepared package to the post office and drop it off, is that a transfer under federal law? In other words, is the husband telling the wife to move box A to the post office and drop it off a transfer which would then be followed by the second transfer of the wife back to the husband? In any other area of law that is not a transfer of ownership or possession. It's a mere license at most or more likely a limited agency. If it constitutes a transfer of possession of the firearm to move a box with the firearm, then anytime you hand a firearm to a clerk behind a shipping counter you need to run a NICS check.

    I wouldn't try it myself, but that's only because the BATF tends to operate in a legal universe totally independent of common sense or logic.
     
  13. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Now there's one I've never heard before.

    Sure would like to see how that would be prosecuted. The wife joins the husband at their WA residence and brings one of their guns from their home in SC to their home in WA, and that's an illegal interstate transfer?

    I like dancing on the line as much as the next guy, but I'm not seeing a prosecutable offense here.

    Prosecutors would have to prove that the husband resides in a both states, but his wife doesn't reside in one of their two homes and/or isn't in WA with the intention of making a home there.

    I'll agree that her shipping it to her husband is probably unlawful. But I don't see her bringing it with her to him as an actionable offense.
     
  14. niner4tango

    niner4tango Member

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    I agree with Tom.

    For shipping (can't use post office except FFL to FFL) the wife would have to sign paperwork at the carrier. It's pretty clear the OP is not shipping to himself.

    For bringing it out, the wife would have to be the owner. OK, the OP could gift it to her and it is legal for her to fly with it. However, once she leaves it with the OP and goes home, she has transferred the gun to him. An illegal interstate transfer.

    Buy a gun in WA ( did you really need an excuse) :D
    Or wait for your next trip home.

    ETA: an FFL dealer could help you with either the shipping or her bringing it out. However, they are required to collect excise tax on out of state transfers in WA which will be over 8% of the value (however you can establish that...)
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2013
  15. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    Who's gun is whose? If you took everything out of the safe and piled it in the floor, neither one of us, nor the SC family courts if we were getting divorced, claims individual ownership of any particular item.

    True, there are my favorites and hers too. But none of the guns - except my great grandfathers Stevens 12 ga - came with us before marriage. Those are all traded or sold. What we have now is what we've bought in the decades since we've been married.

    So the existing inventory is community property just like we both own the washer and dryer and we both own our photography equipment. If we got divorced the family court is going to declare that everything we purchased jointly is owned jointly. Just because I usually drive the old Pontiac and she usually drives the new Buick doesn't mean we don't both have an interest in both.

    Likewise with the guns. Which one isn't hers already?

    But for now I'm going shopping. If there's anything not priced through the roof I might come home with a new toy. If not then I'll see what other strategy I can come up with.
     
  16. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Right, but as Tom explained, the "ownership" here (who bought it, who shoots it, who says "oh, that one's mine...") doesn't enter into the question. What matters is who is in possession of it right now.

    She possesses it in SC and you're in WA. Interstate transfer directly between the two of you is not possible.
     
  17. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Member

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    It's clear as ice water if you actually read the Code of Federal Regulations.;)


    Shipping a firearm from one person to another is a transfer (under Federal law).......if it is INTERSTATE it becomes ILLEGAL if the recepient is not a licensee. It makes no difference if the husband told the wife what to do or if the husband told his third cousin's, brothers best friend to do it.......ship a firearm across state lines to a nonlicensee you violate Federal law. (unless it is one of the exceptions)




    Well, this ain't any other area of law..........it IS specific to firearms and has been Federal law since 1968.





    You've lost the plot to the movie.:rolleyes:
    1. NICS checks can only be done by licensed dealers, so good luck trying to do so with your shipping clerk.
    2. Federal law CLEARLY (if you'll read it) allows shipping firearms across state lines. As such, the common carrier or USPS is acting as a carrier and not required to complete a 4473 or NICS because they are not the buyer/transferee of the firearm.
    You need to think up a better example.


    Whether the Feds would choose to prosecute is immaterial, its still an illegal transfer of a firearm. The OP said HE was residing in WA state, not his wife. Federal law makes no exemption for a wife or any other family member. If it was YOU taking the firearm to the OP its still a violation of federal law.

    I agree......its HIGHLY unlikely the wife would be caught, much less prosecuted........but it doesn't change the fact that its illegal. Very similiar to Grandad flying in for Christmas and giving grandson a .22.............illegal unless they are both residents of the same state. So far I've not read of any grandparents getting busted for trafficking in Cricketts.:D
     
  18. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    I get that...and I'm inclined to agree based on that. However, I think the prosecution would be practically impossible as it would have to be proved that she was NOT a temporary resident of WA even though her husband clearly was and they're cohabitating spouses, etc.

    It certainly COULD be proved, I think, but that's probably all a moot point.
     
  19. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    While it's interesting, we've absolutely come to the point that I'm not going to do it.

    In fact, the poke in the eye for the "gun control" crowd is that these absolutely *STUPID* rules means that I'm going to buy one more gun to be "in circulation" instead of just using one that I already own. And in case it doesn't happen to be one I really want to keep when I leave Washington I'm going to do a private sale to one of the guys in the shop (assuming there's no law against it by then) so that there's one more gun on the street because of their rules.

    Unintended consequences. Sheesh. ;)

    MB
     
  20. niner4tango

    niner4tango Member

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    A happy ending :)

    Let us know roughly where you are and we may be able to suggest some places to shop
     
  21. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    So why can't the wife take HER gun out to WA the next time she travels there and STORE it in her husband's apartment? If I own a hunting cabin in AK (I don't) then I can take a rifle from KY and leave it there, can't I?

    The up side to this is that it will be impossible to prove an illegal transfer occurred after the fact unless the firearm is declared on the manifest of an airline. If she is found in possession of it on the trip out then she is simply in possession of her own gun while traveling. If he is found in possession of it after he leaves the there is no way to prove he didn't bring it with him when he first came there months ago.
     
  22. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Joint property.
    Why couldn't Mr. & Mrs. Jones in SC ship it to Mr. & Mrs. Jones in WA??

    So what if Mrs. Jones takes it to ship and Mr. Jones receives it.

    rc
     
  23. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    Oak Harbor.

    Note: I already bought two rifles last year to shoot in the local matches. Had to do something on the weekends. I'm too old to go out with the young bucks. They leave me in the dust. And besides that I've got a hot Army nurse wife at home who knows how to field strip an M16 and a 1911.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013
  24. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

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    Ace Hardware in town. Wholesale Sports in Burlington. Savage Arms also in Burlington. Kesselring Gun Shop north of Burlington. Green's gun shop a little bit north of Oak Harbor. Going to be in Oak Harbor February 5th? Come to the city council meeting, it's going to be WILD!
     
  25. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Member

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    As has been repeated often on THR and in this thread, ownership has NOTHING to do with the transfer of possession.

    Thats an interstate transfer of a firearm between nonlicensees..........a Federal crime.

    You can play the husband/wife/joint ownership/Mr&Mrs game all you want, but the fact remains that Federal law prohibits the interstate shipment of a firearm to a nonlicensee with just a couple of exceptions:
    1. The return of a repaired or replaced firearm from gunsmith/manufacturer to customer.
    2. Shipping a firearm to yourself at an address in another state.

    While you may not get caught, if you do you'll never own guns again. That alone doesn't make it worth the risk to me.
     
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