Spring Cleaning: Private Firearm Sales in Texas

Spring cleaning doesn’t always end with pressure washing the driveway. Sometimes, we need to clear the clutter, which could mean letting go of a few old firearms we haven’t dusted off in a few months (or years).

Let’s take a look at the best practices when it comes to selling a firearm to another person in a private sale, here in Texas.


It’s easy to sell a standard, non-NFA-item firearm to another person in Texas; you don’t even need to involve a federal firearms licensee (“FFL”). Generally, all you need to do is ensure the prospective buyer is at least 18 years old, a fellow Texas resident, isn’t intoxicated at the time of the sale, and isn’t an otherwise prohibited person.

This does not mean you are required to perform a background check or an interrogation. But you should use your common sense. If the ID a buyer provides looks fake, they pull up in a vehicle with out-of-state plates, or they make strange statements about breaking the law, being under a court order, being institutionalized, or failing a background check—do not go through with the sale.

Trust your gut; there are many honest, lawful gun owners in Texas who would love to add your firearm to their collection.

Document the Sale

While Texas law does not require any formal paperwork to document a change in firearm ownership, I strongly recommended you create a bill of sale. This bill of sale should include the date of the transaction, the make, model, serial number, color, and general description of the firearm. You should also list the names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of the buyer and yourself. I also recommended you take a photo of the buyer’s Texas Driver’s License or License to Carry a Handgun.

You should keep a copy of the bill of sale, give one to the buyer, and make sure to store the document in a secure place. It might even be a good idea to save a digital copy using an encrypted cloud service.

This document will be essential should the firearm you sold wind up at a crime scene or in the hands of a criminal. If the police show up at your front door asking questions about the gun sometime down the line, you will be able to clearly show when it left your possession.

Non-Resident Sales

Remember, this applies only for private sales of standard firearms to fellow Texans within the Lone Star State. Do not sell or otherwise transfer a firearm to a non-resident without going through an FFL, as this is a federal felony for both the seller and the buyer. If convicted, the penalties for these crimes include up to five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000!

If you have any questions about how to legally conduct a private sale of your firearm, call Texas LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

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