What Is The Law Relating To Registering A Firearm?


A common question among firearms owners I receive relates to registering a firearm. Is it required, and in what circumstances? The answer to this question lies within understanding and drawing distinctions between state and federal law.

Taking a new firearm (that is not subject to the NFA) a purchaser completes an ATF 4473 form and passes a background check. The dealer must log this in his or her acquisitions and dispositions book, and in addition, if the firearms are two (2) or more handguns, the dealer must complete a multiple handgun purchase form.

In some jurisdictions, a firearm must be registered with law enforcement; and carry handguns must be registered and a current CCP possessed.

Under federal law, there is no requirement (again not including NFA weapons) for transfer of lawfully possessed weapons after purchase. However, this does not mean a seller or person wishing to transfer a firearm they purchased new or from an FFL licensee should not effectuate the transfer through an FFL.

In transferring a firearm this way, it may be traced from manufacture to its current owner or possessor. Without this, if you fail to transfer your weapon through a 4473 form, the last purchaser from a FFL will end the trail in the event the firearm is used in a crime. This will leave the last purchaser from an FFL holder with the contact law enforcement operating under a trace request if the firearm is recovered in a crime. The crime trail thus will stop there.

This is the law covering firearms and lawful transfers. State law requirements for transfer and registration are generally well understood by dealers and/or the state police or highest law enforcement officials handling firearms matters.

If this blog post aids in complying with the law, it has met its educational objective. This blog post was written by attorney Bryan L. Ciyou, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., Indianapolis, Indiana. This is not intended to provide legal advice, nor is it a solicitation for legal representation.

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About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More