Congrats – You Bought a Gun

DISCLAIMER: I am not an attorney. Nothing in this post is to be construed as legal advice. As always, you should do your own research, and consult an attorney experienced in firearms matters if you have any questions or concerns.


When you’ve owned guns for any length of time, you will eventually buy or sell one as a private sale, not through a gun store or other Federal Firearms License holder. I’ve done both, and I thought I would share what I’ve done to document the transaction.

There’s a great post over on Urban Armed that gives a link to bills of sale for private sales of guns. Go take a look, and download a copy for your own use.

(At this point, re-read the Disclaimer above.)


Every time I transfer a gun to or from someone in a private transaction, I document it with a bill of sale. Even though I live in a state that doesn’t require registration or similar reporting of gun transfers, this will protect me in several ways.

First, should the gun ever be lost or stolen, I will have proof that I owned it, for a police report and insurance claim.

Second, I retain bills of sale for guns I no longer own, forever, so I can prove what happened to them.

In the case of a gift, I still prepare a bill of sale, and write “for just consideration” for the price.

When I buy a gun from someone in a private sale, I bring my own bill of sale, in case the seller doesn’t have one.

When I sell a gun, I prepare two copies of the bill of sale. I also make a photocopy of the buyer’s driver’s licence and Georgia Weapons Licence, as applicable. I won’t sell a gun to someone who doesn’t have a GWL, or who isn’t a family member whose background is well known to me. It’s my way of knowing they are not prohibited from owning a gun.

When I borrow a gun to take to the range, I execute a bill of sale, just like a gift. There are lots of reasons for this – traffic stop, accident, civil emergency, theft, fire – and I need to have proof that I had the gun in my possession. This is the only time I destroy a bill of sale, after I return a gun I borrowed.


I keep an inventory of the guns I own. I use an Excel spreadsheet, but a printed notebook or piece of paper would work just as well. I keep my inventory backed up on a flash drive, as well as with my normal home computer backup files.

This inventory includes gun make, model, caliber, and serial number, as well as details about when and where I bought it. Using a spreadsheet lets me sort the inventory however I choose.


I keep backups of everything. The original bills of sale are kept in a bag* in my fire safe. PDF copies of the bills of sale are on my flash drive, along with my inventory. That way, if I ever have to evacuate our home, I grab the bag out of the fire safe, and go.


So, Dear Reader, what am I leaving out? What are some best practices I should consider?


* The bag in the safe also contains important family documents like social security cards, home ownership documents, car titles, our marriage certificate, our baptismal certificates, and school records.


2 thoughts on “Congrats – You Bought a Gun

  1. Pingback: A Compromise On Universal Background Checks « Fill Yer Hands

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