Like other security-heavy industries, those who purchase and sell in the firearms industry must consider regulatory compliance. In addition to the regulations that apply to brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce firearms dealers must comply with legislation governing online transactions and firearms distribution practices.


If you’re thinking about expanding your brand into the online space, keep the following regulations and requirements in mind:


  • PCI compliance. The PCI SSC (Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council) oversees all payment card purchases. If you accept card purchases in your store, you likely already comply with PCI standards on some level. Businesses that build e-commerce stores must ensure online payment solutions also comply with the PCI DSS.


PayPal,, and many other payment gateways, offer PCI friendly solutions to facilitate compliance for online businesses. Some e-commerce platforms, including Magento, also help stores qualify for appropriate PCI compliance levels.


  • FFL compliance. The ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) enforces the laws that govern Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL). In 2015, the ATF’s investigatory branch conducted more than 8,600 firearms compliance inspections to ensure appropriate management and sales activities. If investigators feel that a firearms dealer has breached applicable laws in any way, they can take further action against the dealer, including revoking his or her license.


Acts that can lead to a license revocation include the failure to accurately record and account for firearms, failure to maintain firearms tracing records, and failure to verify and log purchaser qualifications. The good news is that e-commerce logging and inventory management tools can help firearms dealers manage and record information for regulatory compliance.


  • FTC compliance. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) oversees regulations affecting online activities and consumer rights. To comply with FTC requirements, firearms e-commerce dealers must follow the COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) Rule, the CAN-SPAM Act, consumer privacy rules, advertising regulations, and other rules. All e-commerce stores are subject to FTC oversight, not just firearms industry stores.


  • State compliance. The federal government enforces rules for FFLs, but the states retain the right to create and enforce gun ownership laws. Every state is different, and some enforce more stringent gun ownership rules than others.


While state compliance rarely affects the online purchasing experience, it can affect deliveries. FFLs cannot ship firearms and related purchases directly to consumers. They must send the order to another authorized FFL who can conduct and verify state enforced background checks, identification requirements, safety course documentation, ownership limitations and more. To ensure successful deliveries, FFLs should all understand state requirements for firearm sales.


  • USPS and common carrier regulations. Along with state compliance, FFLs should consider individual mailing regulations outlined in the Gun Control Act of 1968 and any additional rules each mail carrier enforces. In general, FFLs use the US Mail, FedEx and UPS to transport firearms and accessories to other authorized FFLs.


The firearms industry involves extensive regulatory oversight. The good news is that firearms e-commerce platforms often feature built-in regulation friendly features to streamline inventory management, authorization, payment security, and shipping processes. With a high quality e-commerce platform, firearms dealers can focus more on growth-driven activities instead of regulatory oversight.


Forix is a Magento e-commerce platform development partner. We specialize in compliance friendly e-commerce development in the firearms industry. Contact us today to learn more about investing in a complete e-commerce solution.


Disclaimer: The content provided on this website is for commercial and educational purposes and is not legal advice or opinion and should not be relied upon as such. Forix does not make any claims to guarantee the accuracy or completeness of information contained on this site as all laws including firearms laws may change without notice at any given time. Please read our full disclaimer here.