Building an AR for my father in a different state


My father lives in a retirement community in Arizona with his state of residence being South Dakota. He likes the two AR’s I built for my personal use and now he wants me to build him one.


  1. Can I build one in Virginia and how would I transfer it to him with the above residency issue?
  2. Could he purchase a firearm in Arizona being that he lives there but his residence is South Dakota or would it need to be transferred to an FFL in South Dakota?

Thank you,


I am not a lawyer, so take the following with a grain of salt. Perhaps @MikeBKY can offer a little more help? A gun store in AZ near your father might also be a good source of info.

Your father’s legal possession of an AR would depend on where he is when he has possession of it. If he is in Arizona, then all Arizona rules apply. South Dakota rules only apply when he is in South Dakota.

If he intends on staying in AZ for a while he should probably change his state of residence.

Virginia (for now!) doesn’t have any limits on what you can build. As far as I know, I don’t think Arizona does either.

So if you build the rifle in VA, you can ship it to him in Arizona. But it has to be shipped to an FFL in AZ where he would need to do a background check to pick it up. You could also drive it yourself over there and just hand it to him, but that sounds exhausting. The FFL will have him fill out a 4473(?) as part of the check, so his state of residence may cause an issue there but I don’t think so. The few times I’ve seen that as a concern is for handguns not rifles (weird, I know) because you can’t buy handguns as an out of state person. You can ask at a gun store (who can also help you ship it) how that might go.

His possible issue is the same as above. The background check/4473 requires photoID and AZ law may limit out of state purchase. Again, AFAIK it is usually only an issue for handguns, but I’m not up to date on AZ laws.

Possibly more info here: Arizona Concealed Carry Gun Laws & CWP | USCCA CCW Reciprocity Map(Last Updated 11/10/2020)

Why not just build it in his state? Surely you can order all the parts sent to him or an FFL near him. Make sure his orders the lower in his name sent to an FFL near him. You can put it all together at his residence.

Which brings up the question: does his retirement community will allow him to store it there. You should also need a rifle case/safe possibly. He’s got to keep ammo someplace as well.

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Federal law only limits transfers of handguns to one’s state of residence. A person can legally obtain a rifle or shotgun in any state, barring state laws against certain arms - Virginia currently does not have that restriction.

So is there a “legal” work around to buying, selling or transferring a handgun in a different state? What about estate inheritance after a parent dies? This screams of being unconstitutional. Has it been challenged yet?

To obtain a handgun from a non-resident state, it must be transferred to a FFL in your state of residence. From there you get the background check and then the handgun. Yes, based on the 2A, all firearm laws are unconstitutional. Sadly, some people believe “certain” infringements upon a right that “shall not be infringed” are acceptable to them. Usually when they run into one of those “certain” infringements, I mean laws, that they don’t like, then they complain, until then they believe those laws are “common-sense” and “reasonable”. That is why I strongly advocate for educating those willing to listen and learn - that isn’t necessarily firearm owners; some of those also believe in “certain” infringements, kind of like being only a little pregnant.

Most civilized states - CA, MA, and NY obvious exceptions and there are others - allow a person from another civilized state to purchase and immediately take possession of long guns, after passing the obligatory NICS check, using their home state’s ID. Some states may allow this arrangement only with neighboring states. This does not apply to handguns which always need to be shipped from and to an FFL.

In the case of interstate shipment of a long gun, which would also require FFLs on both the shipping and receiving ends, the recipient would need to show ID for the 4473. If the state in which the recipient is at the moment honors the the long gun “buy and go” policy, I’m GUESSING any ID would suffice to take possession in that state, subject to that state’s policy as noted above. I’m also GUESSING that Arizona (for now) has a fairly accommodating policy - they did about 13 years ago when I was in that business.

Your local FFL in VA will know how to deal with VA and should know, or be able to make a call to the AZ FFL, and handle the whole process for you.

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Does your father have a Arizona drivers license and does he receive any mail at the address in Arizona ie…utilities bills. I’m not a lawyer obviously but I your father could receive the firearm from any FFL dealer you sent it to. I think the easiest and quickest way to find your answers would be to talk to a FFL dealer in Arizona.
Stay safe

All of the above is good advice however there is a little known caveat in the rules saying you can ship a “firearm directly to an entity for repairs, service etc. and to an individual for hunting, competition or other lawful purposes etc. and have the same entity/individual ship it directly back to you”. Conceptually, you could have your Father buy a lower in whichever state he chooses (you don’t have to be a resident to buy a rifle only a pistol). Then poke it in a US Mail if it fits it ships box and you in VA order what you need to make the lower into a rifle and ship it back in pieces or whole. No you don’t need to be a gunsmith to work on guns and as a matter of fact there is no “degree” or “certificate” or “license” required to be a gunsmith which always causes me to giggle a bit when people talk about sending things to a “qualified gunsmith” the only thing that qualifies you is your reputation. As long as the lower is purchased by him either in private sale or with a 4473 it’s his “GUN” and as long as the services you are providing are legal in VA and wherever he calls home all is good.

Not a lawyer, but had mine check this out. It’s legal simply because a stripped lower is a gun (firearm) even if it has no other parts in it. Any changes to the gun (firearm) are modifications.



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I agree generally with what others have said. Kentucky law allows non residents to purchase firearms but federal law places restrictions on handguns.
I would suggest your father speak to an FFL in AZ to see if they could accept a rifle shipped there for him. If so, take the rifle you build to an FFL in VA and have it shipped to that FFL. It seems like a lot of work, but there would be no questions about the lawfulness of interstate transportation.

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Would it be feasible to have him purchase the lower (on your dime) and you visit with the other component parts to assemble the weapon. Some good father - son range time seals the deal!