Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions and Their Answers, According to the ATF, Part 2

  • Joey Upper

When it comes to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, folk in the firearms community tend to have very strong opinions — their actions can drastically affect the shooter’s day-to-day life, take for example the ATF’s decisions concerning pistol braces.

They are frequently disparaged, but as Sonoran Desert Institute’s Master Gunsmith Kip Carpenter notes in the webinar “Starting a Gunsmithing Business”, he’s had a tremendous experience with the organization.

No matter how hot or cold your emotions run, there is no question that the men and women at the ATF field a boatload of questions about guns on a regular basis. Previously, we took the opportunity to share and dig into five of the ten most frequently-asked questions posed to the ATF.

Now we’re going to clean up the remainder!

Let’s see what they got:

6. May I lawfully ship a firearm to myself in a different State?

Funnily enough, this isn’t really ever a question that occurred to me. In all fairness, I’m not much for traveling, and when I do it’s through areas that have nice little conveniences like concealed carry reciprocity. That being said, as the ATF notes you actually can ship a firearm to yourself!


Any person may ship a firearm to himself or herself in the care of another person in the State where he or she intends to hunt or engage in any other lawful activity. The package should be addressed to the owner “in the care of” the out-of-State resident. Upon reaching its destination, persons other than the owner must not open the package or take possession of the firearm.


The more you know!

7. May I lawfully ship a firearm directly to an out-of-State licensee, or must I have a licensee in my State ship it to him? May the licensee return the firearm to me, even if the shipment is across State lines?

Yes, you can ship a firearm directly to an FFL. Be you warned — from personal experience, I can tell you that the cost of shipping can be quite a bit! If you’ve never shipped a firearm before, be prepared for that cost.


Any person may ship firearms directly to a licensee in any State, with no requirement for another licensee to ship the firearm. However, handguns are not mailable through the United States Postal Service and must be shipped via common or contract carrier.


In response to the second part of the question, licensees can ship back to you without an additional in-state licensee if the firearm was yours to begin with. If you’ve sent it off for a repair or the like it can come straight back to you.


Firearms shipped to FFLs for repair or any other lawful purpose may be returned to the person from whom receive without transferring the firearm through an FFL in the recipient’s State of residence.


Just don’t try that with a new purchase!

8. I have been convicted of a felony. How do I reinstate my rights to possess a firearm?

This is a tricky one. A lot of people believe that their gun rights should never be restored, while others believe the opposite just as strongly — as long as the felony committed wasn’t violent. Last year, an Arizona state trooper was famously saved by a former felon whose gun rights were restored to him.

Regardless of how we may feel about it, a felon’s rights can be restored.


Persons who have been convicted of a “crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year,” as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(20), are prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms under Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Felons whose convictions have been set-aside or expunged, or for which the person has been pardoned or has had civil rights restored are not considered convicted under section 922(g)(1), unless that person was expressly prohibited by the law of the jurisdiction in which the proceedings were held from possessing firearms… If your conviction is for a Federal offense, you would regain the ability to lawfully receive, possess, or transport firearms if you receive a Presidential pardon.


In essence, there are no guarantees that you can your gun rights back — but governmental agencies can restore those rights. If you’ve committed a federal offense and are looking for more information, the ATF recommends taking a look at


9. May I lawfully make a firearm for my own personal use, provided it is not being made for resale?

Surprisingly — and awesomely — yes! You can not make a firearm for sale without a manufacturer’s license, of course. You can’t make one for distribution, either.

But for yourself? You’re in good shape.


Firearms may be lawfully made by persons who do not hold a manufacturer’s license under the GCA provided they are not for sale or distribution and the maker is not prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms. However, a person is prohibited from assembling a non-sporting semiautomatic rifle or shotgun from 10 or more imported parts.


10. I was the subject of a NICS check when I attempted to purchase a firearm from an FFL, and I received a delayed response or a denial. Please tell me why I did not receive a “proceed” response.

Well, good news and bad news, there. The bad news is that you are going to have to go to the NICS customer service center for that one, which is actually administered by the FBI.

The good news is that the ATF isn’t responsible for your ruined afternoon.


ATF does not operate the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). It is administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Please contact the NICS Customer Service Center at (877) 444-6427 for further assistance.


What questions do you have that was left off the ATF’s list? Please share this on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

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