Mailing potentially dangerous items like firearms can be a tricky business. Many laws and regulations govern this type of transport. This article is intended as general advice for an unlicensed person (a person not holding a valid Federal Firearms License, e.g., not a gun dealer) mailing within the U.S. (importing and exporting add an extra level of complexity, which will not be addressed here).
1. Knowing The Rules
(i) Know that you can ship in-state to anyone. If you are shipping within a state, you can ship to anyone legally allowed to possess a firearm, including a non-licensee.
(ii) Be aware you can also ship a firearm to yourself in a different state—for instance, if you are going on a hunting trip in that state. However, only you may open and take possession of the package.
(iii) Do not ship handguns through the United States Postal Service (USPS). USPS does not accept handguns for shipment from non-licensees.
2. Shipping The Package
(i) Do not label. Make sure the package is NOT labeled as containing a firearm, but it is a good idea to notify the carrier of the contents.
(ii) Include your details. Insert a photocopy of your driver’s license into the package if you are shipping to a FFL (a licensed dealer). They are required to keep a record of who shipped the firearm, and it is an appreciated courtesy to include your driver’s license details.
(iii) Pack it well. Use bubble wrap or other high-quality padding. Wadded up newspaper, plastic wrap, or baby diapers won’t cut it. If the firearm is damaged in shipping, claims against the carrier may be denied if your packaging was substandard.
(iv) Ditch the ammo. Ammunition must be shipped in a separate package from any firearms. Also, you must clearly label the package as containing ammunition.
(v) Register your shipment.
(vi) Notify the carrier of the contents. You should tell the carrier that the package you’re asking them to deliver contains a firearm.