Shipping Your Machine Gun to Us
So you are ready to send your Machine Gun to us for repairs, modification, and/or custom work. How do you do it? Will it be safe? Are you allowed? Do you need permission from ATF? You’re scared and we understand. You have lots of money invested, and chances are it’s worth even more than you have invested. But, we’ve been doing this for a long time. More than 2 decades. We send and receive machine guns on a daily basis. Here’s our opinion and the end results of lot of time, experience, research, phone calls, etc…
Below, we’ve spelled out the long story, but here’s the short story: There are no longer any common carriers that will allow and individual to ship a MAC type machine gun to a dealer. They must be shipped to and from dealer to dealer. If you are an individual (not an FFL holder,) you must take your gun to an FFL holder/dealer and have them put the gun on their books and then sublet (send) the gun to us for gunsmithing.
We recently spoke with an NFA expert at ATF. This is what we were told: ATF strongly suggests a form 5 be executed to avoid the appearance of an illegal transfer and firearms MUST be sent by common carrier. That being said, a form 5 has not been necessary for years. We have had several compliance checks and ATF checks to see that we are doing our 4473’s and the guns in the safe match the guns on our books. This NFA exper at ATF recommended using UPS and FedEx for shipping firearms of ALL types. She did not recommend USPS because “The Post Office does NOT make anyone sign for the package”. When I explained that UPS and Fed Ex do NOT allow the shipping of machine guns at all the response was “How are they going to know what is in the box?” I politely explained that by ATF regulations the shipper has to be notified in writing whenever a firearm is being shipped. At that, ATF responded “I didn’t know that”. So, as you can see, ATF isn’t up to date on the rules and regulations of the common carriers and they do not care too much as long as you are sending it common carrier and that the package must be signed for.
Straight from the ATF website:
May a nonlicensee ship a firearm by common or contract carrier?
A nonlicensee may ship a firearm by a common or contract carrier to a resident of his or her or her own State or to a licensee in any State. A common or contract carrier must be used to ship a handgun. In addition, Federal law requires that the carrier be notified that the shipment contains a firearm or ammunition, prohibits common or contract carriers from requiring or causing any label to be placed on any package indicating that it contains a firearm and requires obtaining written acknowledgement of receipt.
[18 U.S.C. 922(a)(2)(A), 922(a)(5), 922(e) and (f); 27 CFR 478.30 and 478.31]
May a nonlicensee ship a firearm through the U.S. Postal Service?
A nonlicensee may not transfer a firearm to a non-licensed resident of another State. A nonlicensee may mail a shotgun or rifle to a resident of his or her own State or to a licensee in any State. The Postal Service recommends that long guns be sent by registered mail and that no marking of any kind which would indicate the nature of the contents be placed on the outside of any parcel containing firearms. Handguns are not mailable. A common or contract carrier must be used to ship a handgun.
[18 U.S.C. 1715, 922(a)(5) and 922 (a)(2)(A); 27 CFR 478.31]
The Post Office will ship long guns and shotguns from individual to individual in their own State as long as it is legal in that state. An individual can ship to himself in another State as long as it is legal in those States. They do NOT ship handguns. So is the machine gun a “handgun” or a “long gun?” Here is where they invoke the “concealable” clause, if it or it’s parts are concealable on a person’s body, then it is considered a handgun. An individual may ship a machine gun to a dealer for repairs as long as it is NOT concealable. If a firearm can be considered “concealable” it can no longer be sent via USPS by a non-lincensee to a dealer. If you send a 1919 for repairs it will go as a long gun as it is not concealable and can be sent by a non-licensee to a dealer. All firearms, regardless of size may still be sent from dealer to dealer as long as it is sent USPS registered. That means, an individual has to have his dealer send the gun to be within USPS’ regulations. Upon arrival the shipper must also declare what is in the box. It cannot be written on the box, but it must be declared.
Straight from the USPS website:
Mailers must comply with the Gun Control Act of 1968, all of the provisions of postal law in 18 U.S.C. 1715, and all other all federal and state regulations and local ordinances affecting the movement of firearms. The following also applies:
- The Postal Service may require the mailer to open parcels containing firearms or air guns or give written certification that the weapon is unloaded and not concealable.
- Short-barreled rifles or shotguns that can be concealed on the person are nonmailable.
- No markings of any kind that indicate the nature of the contents maybe placed on the outside wrapper or container of any mailpiece containing firearms.
- Mailable matter must be properly and securely packaged within the general packaging requirements in DMM 601.1-7.
Handguns and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person are nonmailable unless mailed between the parties listed in this section, after the filing of an affidavit or statement described in 432.22 or 432.24, and are subject to the following:
- Firearms meeting the definition of a handgun under 2 and the definition of curios or relics under 27 CFR 478.11 may be mailed between curio and relic collectors only when those firearms also meet the definition of an antique firearm under 431.3.
- Firearms meeting the definition of a handgun under 2, which are certified by the curator of a municipal, state, or federal museum that exhibits firearms to be curios or relics of museum interest, may be accepted for mailing without regard to the restrictions provided for handguns in Exhibit 432.25 and in 432.21 through 432.24.
- Air guns that do not fall within the definition of firearms under 1 that are capable of being concealed on a person are mailable, but must include adult signature service under DMM 503.9.0. Mailers must comply with all applicable state and local regulations.
- Parts of handguns are mailable, except for handgun frames, receivers or other parts or components regulated under Chapter 44, Title 18, U.S.C.
- Mailers are also subject to applicable restrictions by governments of a state, territory, or district.
432.21 Authorized Persons
Subject to 432.22, handguns may be mailed by a licensed manufacturer of firearms, a licensed dealer of firearms, a licensed importer of firearms, or an authorized agent of the federal government or the government of a state, territory, or district, only when addressed to a person in one of the following categories for use in the person’s official duties, and upon filing the required affidavit or certificate:
- Officers of the Army, Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Organized Reserve Corps.
- Officers of the National Guard or militia of a state, territory, or district.
- Officers of the United States or of a state, territory, or district, whose official duty is to serve warrants of arrest or commitment.
- USPS employees authorized by the Chief Postal Inspector.
- Officers and employees of enforcement agencies of the United States.
- Watchmen engaged in guarding the property of the United States, a state, territory, or district.
- Purchasing agent or other designated member of agencies employing officers and employees included in 21c through e.
432.22 Affidavit of Addressee
Any person proposing to mail a handgun under 432.21 must file with the Postmaster, at the time of mailing, an affidavit signed by the addressee setting forth that the addressee is qualified to receive the firearm under a particular category of 432.21a through 432.21g, and that the firearm is intended for the addressee’s official use. The affidavit must also bear a certificate stating that the firearm is for the official duty use of the addressee, signed by one of the following, as appropriate:
- For officers of Armed Forces, by the commanding officer.
- For officers and employees of enforcement agencies, by the head of the agency employing the addressee to perform the official duty with which the firearm is to be used.
- For watchmen, by the chief clerk of the department, bureau, or independent branch of the government of the United States, the state, the territory, or the district by which the watchman is employed.
- For the purchasing agent or other designated member of enforcement agencies, by the head of such agency, that the firearm is to be used by an officer or employee included in21c through 432.21e.
432.23 Manufacturers, Dealers, and Importers
Handguns may also be mailed between licensed manufacturers of firearms, licensed dealers of firearms, and licensed importers of firearms in customary trade shipments, or for repairing or replacing parts.
432.24 Certificate of Manufacturers, Dealers, and Importers
A federal firearms licensee manufacturer, dealer, or importer need not file the affidavit under432.22, but must file with the Postmaster a statement on PS Form 1508, Statement by Shipper of Firearms, signed by the mailer that he or she is a licensed manufacturer, dealer, or importer of firearms. The mailer must also state that the parcels containing handguns, or parts and components of handguns under 432.2d, are being mailed in customary trade shipments or contain such articles for repairing or replacing parts, and that to the best of their knowledge the addressees are licensed manufacturers, dealers, or importers of firearms. Registered Mail service is recommended.
432.3 Rifles and Shotguns
Except under 431.2, unloaded rifles and shotguns are mailable. Mailers must comply with the rules and regulations under 27 CFR, Part 478, as well as state and local laws. The mailer may be required by the USPS to establish, by opening the parcel or by written certification, that the rifle or shotgun is unloaded and not ineligible for mailing. The following conditions also apply:
- Subject to state, territory, or district regulations, rifles and shotguns may be mailed without restriction when sent within the same state of mailing. These items must:
- Bear a “Return Service Requested” endorsement.
- Be sent by Priority Mail Express (“signature required” must be used at delivery) or Registered Mail.
- Include either insured mail service (for more than $200) requiring a signature at delivery or Signature Confirmation service.
- A shotgun or rifle owned by a non-FFL may be mailed outside the owner’s state of residence by the owner to himself or herself, in care of another person in the other state where he or she intends to hunt or engage in any other lawful activity. These mailpieces must:
- Mailing of rifles and shotguns between licensed FFL dealers, manufacturers, or importers are not restricted. USPS recommends these items be mailed using those services described in 432.3a.
- Rifles and shotguns may be mailed by a non-FFL owner domestically to a FFL dealer, manufacturer, or importer in any state. USPS recommends these items be mailed using those services described in 432.3a.
- Except as described in 432.2a, licensed curio and relic collectors may mail firearms meeting the definition of curios or relics under 27 CFR 478.11 domestically to licensed FFL curio and relic collectors in any state. USPS recommends these items be mailed using those services described in 432.3a.
- Firearms which are certified by the curator of a municipal, state, or federal museum which exhibits firearms to be curios or relics of museum interest may be accepted for mailing without restriction.
- Air guns that do not fall within the definition of firearms under 431.1a are mailable. A shipment containing an air gun with a muzzle velocity of 400 or more feet per second (fps) must include an Adult Signature service under DMM 503.9.0. Mailers must additionally comply with all applicable state and local regulations.
Shippers with a Federal Firearm License
Only customers holding a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and federal, state, or local government agencies may ship firearms with FedEx. Customers holding an FFL must enter into an approved FedEx Firearms Shipping Compliance Agreement before shipping any firearms with FedEx. Also, you must be an approved firearm shipper with a signed contract on file with FedEx. For more information, contact your FedEx account executive.
Nonlicensees are prohibited from shipping firearms with FedEx.
Fed Ex will no longer ship Machine Guns of any kind.
UPS will ship long guns and shotguns from an individual to a dealer and back again. They will ship handguns the same way but the handgun has to be shipped overnight. They DO NOT ship machine guns of any kind anywhere period.
Straight from the UPS website:
UPS does not accept automatic weapons, including machine guns, for shipment. Firearms (including handguns) and firearm parts are not accepted for shipment internationally. UPS Returns® Services are not available for packages containing firearms.
How to pack and prepare my machine gun for shipping?
You or your dealer will want to pack it tightly and securely. After it’s packed, you should be able to shake it up and down and side to side and hear no or very little movement inside the box. We are not responsible for how the package arrives. If your dealer is shipping it via USPS Registered Mail (recommended), USPS will require you to wrap all seams with brown paper packing tape. Some Post Offices will have this tape available for you to use. Others will not. You can buy such tape at any office supply store. Yes, it’s annoying that you must wrap the box in special tape but there is a good reason for it. This is because they will date stamp all over the tape seams. This insures no one has tampered with the package while in the USPS’s possession. You will also need to complete a “Receipt for Registered Mail” and a “Domestic Return Receipt.” If you can get everything to fit into a Medium or Large Flat Rate Priority Mail box, you may save on postage. We always try to do this on our return packages.
What about Shipping Insurance?
We recommend that you insure your machine gun for it’s current market value. In other words, if the package turns up lost or destroyed, what would it cost you to buy another? That magic number is what you should use for insuring your package. Before shipping, you may want to check with your homeowner’s insurance or if you have your firearm collection insured through another policy, check with them because often times, the firearm is covered during shipping by your insurance policy, so there is no need to pay for additional shipping insurance or to claim a high value. But unless this is the case, we always recommend paying for the insurance. When we send your machine gun back to you, we will ask you how much, if any, insurance you want put on the package.
What information do you need from me?
It is an ATF requirement that any time your registered firearm is on the move that you have a copy of your form 3 or form 4 with you. This is the same when shipping it. We will need a copy of your form 3/4 (just the front). We don’t care about the back of the form. If the firearm is owned by a Trust, we will need a copy of your driver’s license or some other paperwork tying you to the Trust. If your dealer is sending it to us, we will need a copy of his FFL. We will need your contact information, and we will need a description of the work you would like us to perform. If you don’t give us your contact information, we will not be able to contact you with a diagnosis or estimate. Seems obvious, but we do get machine guns with no contact information and they just sit in our safe until they owner contacts us.
If you, as an individual are sending us a gun because it’s considered a carbine length gun such as a Sten or Uzi, then we must send it to the address on the Form 3/4, if you have moved, we’ll need a copy of your current driver’s license and we must send it to that address. We cannot send it to any other address, such as your work.