Can I Buy and Sell Firearms as a Pawnbroker?

buy and sell firearms as a pawn broker

Pawnbrokers must follow strict regulations when it comes to buying and selling firearms. No matter your stance on firearms, it’s crucial that you follow all federal laws, such as holding an active Federal Firearms License from the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives), or face the consequences. Keep reading to understand more about buying and selling firearms as a pawnbroker. 

Learn all about how to start a pawn shop

About the Federal Firearms License

Since the Gun Control Act of 1968, federal firearms licenses have been a legal requirement for anyone hoping to sell firearms and/or ammunition. This license is the bare minimum requirement, whether you’re importing and exporting them, conducting interstate sales, or conducting intrastate sales.

There are different types of firearms licenses depending on the type of dealing you want to do. As a pawnbroker, you’ll need a Type 2 license.

In order to obtain your license, you must: 

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Not be prohibited from shipping, receiving, transporting, or processing firearms and ammunition
  • Not fall under the “prohibited persons” list provided by the ATF
  • Have not made any false claims regarding the application of the firearms
  • Have a physical business location

In addition to the requirements above, you’ll also need to certify that: 

  • Business conducted with your license is not against any local, state, or federal laws
  • You’ll comply with all conduct requirements of the state within 30 days of receiving your license
  • You won’t make transactions until your business conduct meets local and state requirements
  • You have notified the chief law enforcement official that you are applying for the license
  • You have safe storage for all firearms at the place of sale

As long as you meet all the requirements above, you’ll likely be granted your license without much hassle. It’s recommended that you also complete an FFL certified online course before starting your application, though it’s not a legal requirement.

Once your application has been processed, you’ll have an in-person interview with your Industry Operations Investigator to ensure your business is up to regulations and you’re a legitimate business. After this interview, expect to wait 30 to 60 days before finding out if your license has been denied or approved.

Can I Buy and Sell Firearms as a Pawnbroker?

In order to legally buy and sell firearms as a pawnbroker, you must have a federal firearms license. While it would be assumed that any pawnbroker buying firearms holds the necessary licenses, this isn’t always the case. Since buying and selling firearms without a license is a federal offense, some buyers may be wary of doing business with you.

A good practice to reassure customers is to offer proof of your license. Always having it at hand can be good whether you’re doing business or the police show up unexpectedly. Even if they’re there to ask about a weapon that may have been part of a crime, having your license easily accessible can prevent complications from arising.

When you’re buying firearms, you need to ask to see the seller’s ID. In order for you to legally buy from them (even with a license), they need to meet certain age requirements: 18 years old to pawn a rifle and 21 years old to pawn a pistol.

When selling firearms, you’ll need to run a background check on the customer. Even if the customer is trying to buy back their own weapon, you must ensure that they hold the proper license to own the weapon and that they pass a background check. It’s crucial to be aware that even pawn loans and sales require a background check, and you can expect an audit at any time.

Whether you’re buying or selling a weapon, always keep good records. You’re required to keep track of each weapon you buy and sell, including the serial number, type of firearm, model, caliber, and the buyer or seller’s ID.


Dealing with firearms as a pawnbroker is possible, but you’ll need to hold an active Federal Firearms License from the ATF to do so. Without it, both you and your customer may face legal consequences. 

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