Spring Cleaning: Private Firearm Sales in Ohio

Thankfully, spring has sprung in the Buckeye State, and it’s time to clean, which may mean downsizing your gun collection. Many of you likely buy and sell guns and ammunition in a number of ways, including private sales. So, I would like to take this opportunity to briefly go over some things you should keep in mind when entering into one of these types of transactions.


First of all, whether it be at a gun show or informally, person-to-person private sales of your guns are perfectly legal in Ohio. You may sell one or more firearms and ammunition without restriction. You are not required to conduct a background check on the buyer of your firearm, nor is there a waiting period that must be satisfied before the transfer can be made.

A caveat to this is that while you are free to sell your gun to another person without running a background check, if you have knowledge some other way that they are not legally allowed to buy the gun (for example, they are not old enough or you believe they have a felony conviction), you cannot legally make the transfer.

As long as you are satisfied to that extent, you can freely transfer or gift the firearm this way, as long as the person receiving the gun is also an Ohio resident. If the person is from another state, then of course you’ll have to utilize a Federal Firearms Licensee (“FFL”) to make the transfer.


I get a lot of questions from members about what documentation is required, and if there is some registration of the sale requirement. Thankfully in the State of Ohio there are no burdensome rules which require specific documentation or registration of private firearm sales.

That being said, I always strongly recommend that you document the transaction for a number of reasons. Regardless of whether it’s a family member, friend, or perfect stranger, I believe it is good business practice to have some paperwork indicating the transfer has taken place.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy and it can be as formal or informal as you want, but it should contain, essentially, that one person is relinquishing ownership of the firearm on a specific date to another, and for what or how much consideration (for example, money, or a barter, or a gift). I also suggest that you always note the make, model, and the serial number of the firearm. Finally, ask for basic identification so you can verify the age of the recipient and the name of the party buying the firearm.


Finally, a word of caution: with the proliferation of online listing sites, where firearms can legally be listed for sale, I have seen a rash of serious incidents occurring at face-to-face meetings to finalize the transaction. Many people have been set up to be robbed of the firearms they are selling or of the money they’re bringing with them to buy a gun. Make sure you are careful where and how you meet the seller or buyer. Conduct the transaction in a safe place and with others, if possible.

As always, for questions about legally conducting the private sales of a firearm or anything else, please contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.


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