Rifle Registration

My brother is giving me one of his M-4 rifles. Do I need to register it and would there be anything other than a bill of sale needed? He lives in Arkansas and I live in Iowa, does that make any difference?

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In case @Mike270 ‘s sarcasm does not come across as obviously as he intends- Transfers of a firearm to someone in another State has to be done through an FFL. There may be some limited exceptions to this rule but I’m pretty sure they don’t apply in your case.

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But, if I understand the laws properly, for rifles you can perform the transfer face-to-face at a single FFL, preferably in the “losing” state, Arkansas in this case. The gaining new owner can then carry the rifle to the new location.
For handguns you must have two FFLs involved, one in each state, and the first FFL must ship the handgun to the receiving FFL. Neither owner (old or new) is to handle the shipping.
If you cannot travel to Arkansas to pick up the M4 at an FFL, then the two-FFL process should be followed, as for handguns.
If I got any of this incorrectly described, please let us all know here.
As for registration, Arkansas has no firearms registration, and I am fairly sure neither does Iowa.

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I am not familiar with the particulars outside of needing an FFL for out of State transfers. I’ve only ever done legal in State private transfers to other residence of the state I was living in or sold my firearms on consignment through an FFL.

Would definitely recommend reading up on the relative laws or asking a local FFL on the legal transfer procedures.

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@mike270 please do not tell people to commit federal felonies

Sending a gun directly to another person in another state is in fact a federal felony


Even for handguns, only one FFL must be involved (per federal law). The one at the receiving end. You may ship a handgun via common courier (I like FedEx) as a private individual to a licensee (FFL holder) in another state. You may not, as a private citizen, ship a handgun USPS (you can with a “long gun” but nothing else)

But going through two FFL’s, one on each side, is certainly acceptable as well. And harder to screw up, there are some nuances if you ship it to the FFL. Contact them first, make sure they will take it, get a transfer copy of their FFL and include it in the shipment, unloaded, no ammo, include a photocopy of your government issue photo ID so they can use that as the from on the transfer, include phone number of recipient, etc…things the FFL will know to get done if you take it to your FFL to ship on your behalf

For rifles, sometimes the states are more restrictive (well, as with anything), and an FFL does need to be involved but unlike with a handgun, it does not necessarily, per federal law, have to be an FFL in the recipient state. In some cases the FFL can be in the “giving” state as described above.

When in doubt go to an FFL and ask. This is what they do.


Why stop when he’s on a roll?

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Hello and welcome @A_USMC_0311

This topic seems to not be as straight forward as it should be. I am seeing lots of conflicting advice.

A very quick search got me this from a FAQ sheet on the ATF site.

“Under Federal law, an unlicensed individual is prohibited from transferring a firearm to an individual who does not reside in the State where the transferee resides. Generally, for a person to lawfully transfer a firearm to an unlicensed person who resides out of State, the firearm must be shipped to a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) within the recipient’s State of residence.“

There are exceptions for temporary loans for sporting purposes as well as inheriting firearms bequeathed through a will. Granted this is from the ATF and despite it being their job to enforce firearm laws they do seem to have a very poor understanding of the laws they are charged with enforcing.

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There definitely has to be an FFL involved, for all firearms transfers, if the two parties reside in different states.


Is this another opinion?

Welcome @A_USMC_0311 !

Which version of the M4 are we talking about? I’m hoping it is a recent model that doesn’t have the full auto or burst capability.

If it is automatic, then he will need to do far more than just go to an FFL. However, it would still be legal to transfer, as the 1986 FOPA (love the irony of that acronym) grandfather’s automatic weapons manufactured prior to May 19, 1986 (the enactment date of that law).