Thursday, May 01, 2008

Misleading PA Gun Transfer Website

This morning, I caught a commercial on WMMR promoting an apparently-new website, I thought to myself, "Cool, someone is running an ad for FFL transfer services on 'MMR!" Such services are often used by gunnies purchasing firearms from out-of-state, since such transfers must go through a licensee per Federal law. When I checked it after getting into the office I was disgusted to find that it's a site to promote transfer of guns through licensed dealers, as opposed to private party sales. The whois data shows the registrant for the domain as Commonwealth Media Services, which is a state entity.

What I find troubling about it is that it promotes transfers through FFLs, and makes it seem that any face-to-face private sale is illegal in PA. That is not the case. Private transfers of rifles and shotguns between PA residents is perfectly legal, only handgun sales, NFA transfers, and transactions with out of state residents must go through an FFL. The only reference to private rifle/shotgun sales being actually legal is buried on the Q&A page.

What makes this misleading is that in Pennsylvania, only "firearms" must be transferred through an FFL, per 18 Pa. Con. Stat. Sec. 6111. In PA, the definition of a firearm is this:

Any pistol or revolver with a barrel length less than 15 inches, any shotgun with a barrel length less than 18 inches or any rifle with a barrel length less than 16 inches, or any pistol, revolver, rifle or shotgun with an overall length of less than 26 inches. The barrel length of a firearm shall be determined by measuring from the muzzle of the barrel to the face of the closed action, bolt or cylinder, whichever is applicable.

See 18 Pa. Consolidated Statutes Sec. 6102.

The statutory definition of firearms specifically does not include most guns which do not fall under the restrictions of the Federal National Firearms Act of 1934. In other words, the vast majority of rifles and shotguns in private possession are not "firearms" for the purpose of this law. For example, the hypothetical hunting rifle and shotgun described on's Home page generally do not meet the legal definition of a "firearm" in Pennsylvania.

So why the dissimulation? clearly reflects the Philly-centric antigun bias. By fooling people into thinking that private party transfers of any gun are illegal in PA, they are looking to create a paper trail. All gun transfers which go through a licensed dealer first require the transferee to pass a background check conducted in Harrisburg by the Pennsylvania State Police. As you may be aware, a few years ago they were sued for creating an illegal registry of gun owners. As it turned out, the State Police won their case when the court ruled that the records which they were compiling did not meet the statutory definition of an illegal database. Nevertheless, it is still a de facto database of gun owners in Pennsylvania. And we know that historically, gun registration has lead to confiscation in Germany, Britain, and closer to home in New York and New Jersey.

This stinks on ice and they need to be called on it. I plan to voice my displeasure with our "leaders" and hope you will, too.


alex said...

I also noticed this on some phily buses. Even though it mentions that long guns are not required it still suggests that you goto a dealer. I also noticed that it didn't list the family exceptions. You mentioned you plan on contacting them, how do you plan on doing this?

Anonymous said...

Tom Corbett is a pro-gun, pro-freedom guy...

In my opinion this is a VERy positive use of taxpater money...for once, the public is being informed and encouraged to do something which protects lives as opposed to traking away freedoms AFTER a life has been lost....ease up on a great idea!

Dave Markowitz said...

I guess you missed the whole "misleading" part of my post. I would applaud the idea of a website which provided accurate information.

This one does not.

Anonymous said...

i am military stationed in washington state, i am currently 19 and would like to get my shotgun that my dad got me in pa(where he lives) is there any paperwork to do to have the shotgun transfered to me?

Dave Markowitz said...

To transfer the shotgun to you in WA from PA, you will need it shipped to a Federally licensed dealer in WA, from whom you can take delivery after passing a background check.

WA state may have additional restrictions but I am not familiar with that state's laws.