Table of Contents
- Download a Free Firearm Bill of Sale Template
- The Basics: What is a Firearm Bill of Sale?
- When This Document is Needed
- The Consequences of Not Using One
- The Most Common Situations
- What Should be Included in This Document?
1. Download a Free Firearm Bill of Sale Template
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2. The Basics: What is a Firearm Bill of Sale?
A firearm bill of sale is a legal document that memorializes the sale of a handgun, rifle, or shotgun between two parties — a seller and a purchaser.
In exchange for a certain amount of money, the seller agrees to transfer ownership of a firearm to the purchaser.
Technically a bill of sale is not required when purchasing or selling a gun. However, many owners consider it a wise practice to protect themselves should future legal or criminal issues arise involving the sold weapon.
A simple firearm bill of sale serves as proof of purchase and will include the following elements:
- The “Seller” or “Grantor”: the person who currently owns the gun being sold
- The “Purchaser” or “Grantee”: the person buying the gun or becoming the new owner
- The “Property”: a complete description of the gun being sold and its current condition
- The “Payment Terms”: amount of money paid or “value received” by the Purchaser
- The “Warranty”: whether the weapon is being sold “as is” or if there are any guarantees
- The “Date”: when the firearm was sold by the Seller to the Purchaser
As a reference, people often call this document by other names.
- Firearms Bill of Sale
- Firearm Sale Receipt
- Handgun Bill of Sale
- Rifle Bill of Sale
- Gun Bill of Sale
- Firearm Purchase Agreement
- Firearm Purchase Receipt
- Firearm Sale Agreement Form
- Firearm Sale Contract
- Firearm Sale Document
- Private Firearm Bill of Sale
- Used Firearm Bill of Sale
Firearm Bill of Sale PDF Sample
The sample firearm bill of sale below details an agreement between the seller, ‘Anita E Blair’ and the purchaser, ‘Bobby C Leonard.’ Anita E Blair agrees to sell a .22 Remington to Bobby C Leonard under the conditions specified.Firearm Bill of Sale
2. When This Document is Needed
Why do I need a firearm bill of sale?
Technically, you are not legally required to compose a firearm bill of sale when selling (or purchasing) a gun. However, doing so does protect you in important ways. A gun bill of sale provides written proof of the following:
- a transaction actually occurred, meaning the other party cannot claim theft or that they never received the gun
- the firearm, to the best of your knowledge, truly belonged to the Seller and was not stolen
- the Seller intended to transfer ownership of the gun to the Purchaser
- which gun was transferred (i.e. year, model, make, serial number, unique markings)
- the Seller made promises and assurances as to the condition of the firearm or sold it “as is”
In short, this document protects you from liability or fraud, whether you are the seller or purchaser.
Further, there are generally two types of bill of sales.
1. A “conditional” bill of sale
With a conditional bill of sale, ownership of the gun transfers to the purchaser only after they have paid the complete amount owed to the seller.
For example, a gun bill of sale is first used to document that both the seller and purchaser agree to transfer ownership of an item like a firearm if certain conditions are fulfilled, e.g., the purchaser must complete all stipulated payment installments in a timely fashion. Then, a promissory note is used to record how the purchaser will pay the seller over time.
2. An “absolute” bill of sale
An absolute bill of sale proves a transaction took place and that ownership has been completely transferred to the purchaser without any restrictions.
In contrast to a conditional bill of sale, an absolute bill of sale is used when the purchaser is able to pay the entire amount for a firearm immediately. Unlike a conditional bill of sale, the seller no longer has ownership claims to the gun in an absolute bill of sale.
This form of bill of sale is more common for firearms as most purchases happen in full.
3. The Consequences of Not Having One
How could a gun bill of sale help me?
A simple bill of sale could ward off some of these preventable consequences:
|1. Lost time||1. Lost time|
|Appearing before court to clarify ownership and date sold||Appearing before court to clarify ownership and date purchased|
|Difficult to clear your name, especially if it has been used in a crime||Difficult to clear your name, especially if it has been used in a crime|
|2. Legal issues||2. Legal issues|
|Liability for not knowing purchaser was ineligible for firearm ownership||Face difficult to disprove accusations|
|3. Lost money||3. Lost money|
|Liable for fees and violations||Unfair seizure of illegal item|
|Penalties for improper sale||Bought a non-functioning firearm|
|4. Personal safety||4. Personal safety|
|Disgruntled or shady anonymous purchaser could take advantage||Faulty or defective firearm is a threat to public safety and your well being|
What happens if I do not have one?
A firearm bill of sale is one piece of evidence used to document or transfer ownership. While gun rights advocates have successfully lobbied against a gun registry, thus removing the need for gun title of ownership, not having a firearm bill of sale could make you vulnerable to the consequences outlined in the above table.
When purchasing or selling a firearm, it is imperative that you know the laws of your state regarding sales of guns. For example, in California, private gun sales must be conducted through a licensed firearm dealer who can conduct a background check on the purchaser. In neighboring Arizona however, no such requirement exists.
Without a firearm bill of sale to demarcate the transaction, the seller may initially be seen as liable for any fees, violations, fines, or criminal behavior the new owner (i.e. the “purchaser”) might incur while using the item. While you would likely be able to prove your innocence in court, avoid letting things get to that point with a gun bill of sale.
4. The Most Common Situations
Who needs this document?
A bill of sale could be used in any number of transactions.
Here are just a few people who could commonly benefit from a simple bill of sale:
Possible Sellers and Purchasers
- Family members
- Users of Craigslist or online gun forums
- Firearm Dealers
5. What Should be Included in This Document?
A simple firearm bill of sale should include the following basics:
1. Parties to the Sale
- Names and Addresses of Seller and Purchaser
- Signatures of Seller and Purchaser
2. Description of the Gun
- Serial number
- Make and model
- Color, accessories, customizations, materials made from
3. Condition of the Item
- “Sold As Is” unless you have agreed to something else
- Certifies that the Seller is the legal owner
4. Details of the Sale
- Date of Purchase
- Sale Price
- Payment Arrangement (i.e. paid in full, initial down payment, or installments)
5. Delivery of the Items
- Available immediately
- Pick up at a later time from a specific address
- Delivery at a later time (additional charge for delivery may apply)
Which states require background checks on private gun sales?
While you may not absolutely need a firearm bill of sale to complete your purchase, in some states you must conduct your transaction through a licensed gun dealer. Having a bill of sale will help document the transaction.
We have created a map that gives basic information about whether or not your state requires your private gun sale to go through a licensed dealer. In many cases, the law is complex or opaque, so your safest bet is to contact your local Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) office and ask for information.
Hover the mouse over your state or the legend to learn more about state-specific information.
This map and the information contained therein does not constitute official legal advice regarding the private sale and purchase of guns. For official information contact your local police department or ATF branch office.
- Light Firearm Sales Regulation
- Some Firearm Sales Regulation
- Strict Firearm Sales Regulation
If you are looking for a Bill of Sale that isn’t related to firearms, check out a standard Bill of Sale template.
This article was written by Adam Hatch.