2022 has seen the return of many large gun shows and 2023 is shaping up to be promising as well. If you’re attending one of these events, you may be wondering what the best strategies are for selling, buying, and trading guns at a gun show.
Getting started can be tricky and a little overwhelming for some sellers. This post will offer strategies and tips about gun show selling to help you get started on the right foot. Let’s jump right in.
Start with Learning Rules and Regulations
Because of the inherent dangers that come with having numerous firearms in one location, most gun shows have detailed rules and regulations to keep everyone safe and sales above board. So, before attending, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with what’s expected of sellers at the specific gun show you’ll be at.
Take the Premier Gun Show Pasadena in February 2022, which had some extensive show rules (outlined below).
They mention that gun sellers “who sell firearms for a portion, or all, of their livelihood must possess an FFL.” However, private sellers who simply sell from their personal collection and “who do not derive their livelihood from the sale of firearms nor make a profit on sales, are not required to have an FFL.” Note that if you’re a serious seller and running a business, you’ll almost always need to register for a federal firearms license before you can sell at a gun show.
They also say:
- Loaded firearms aren’t permitted unless it’s from someone in law enforcement
- Loose cartridges, loaded weapons, and magazines aren’t allowed
- All ammunition must be sealed in a box, bag, or container
A show’s rules are usually found on the registration page. Browse through that information and make sure you’re totally clear before attending to prevent any issues that could harm your reputation.
Follow ATF Guidelines
Besides the specific rules at a gun show, it’s also essential to follow ATF guidelines just as you would if you were selling at a brick-and-mortar store. For example, a licensed dealer for the state they’re selling in must display their license at the gun show and must comply with the necessary recordkeeping requirements of ATF regulations regarding A&Ds, where they maintain accurate records of each sale. The ATF also states that firearms dealers may only sell handguns to state residents who are at least 21 years old and who meet eligibility requirements where they pass a background check.
Here’s a full overview of gun show guidelines you can find on the ATF’s website.
As you can see, they’re fairly extensive and vary from FFLs licensed within the state, FFLs not licensed within the state, and non-licensed residents from a different state. Therefore, review the specific requirements that apply to you to avoid ATF inspections or subsequent violations. This brings us to our next point.
Streamline Recordkeeping with FFL Software
What’s the best way to ensure ATF compliance with gun show selling AND streamline transactions? Use FFL software! This has several key features that help you stay on top of things from a compliance standpoint while also making sales go smoother. FastBound, for instance, allows you to turn any computer, tablet, or smartphone into a fully compliant Form 4473 with digital signatures and electronic storage, with no transaction fees or special hardware requirements.
Rather than having to meticulously fill out paper forms like in the past, you can swiftly move through the recordkeeping process while saving everything digitally for easy retrieval. FastBound is continuously updated to ensure Form 4473 reflects current ATF rulings, which means you always gather the exact information you need without the hassle of having to keep up with rule changes yourself. You simply add the firearm you want to sell, and the buyer completes and electronically signs their 4473 on a digital device. From there, you perform a background check and fill out your section. As long as everything checks out, you can then finalize the transaction, and you’re on to the next sale.
This makes for smooth, convenient transactions, and you don’t have to deal with heaps of paperwork that can get cluttered, lost, or stolen. All you need is a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Because all the information is digital, you spare yourself the frustration of trying to decipher poor handwriting and sift through piles of documents later on.
Focus on Presentation
Most gun shows have numerous vendors. And while there’s a certain level of camaraderie, everyone’s competing for the business of attendees. That’s why it’s essential to have a great presentation that 1) instantly grabs the attention of passersby and 2) conveys professionalism. It’s all about creating a great first impression to pull in the maximum number of attendees and piquing their interest. Otherwise, it’s going to be a struggle even if you have some of the best inventory around.
There are three key components of gun show presentation. First, you want a great-looking sign with plenty of contrast between the background and foreground images and text. You can see what we’re talking about in this image below from the Florida Gun Show that took place a few years back. Notice how the yellow and red signs in particular grab your attention.
Next, you want a clean, organized table where firearms are neatly arranged on a tablecloth that jives with the color scheme of your sign. In the image above, for example, you’ll notice the vendor on the far right uses a yellow color scheme for the sign and tablecloth and the vendor on the far left uses a red color scheme.
Third, always display the price of each firearm so they’re easily visible to attendees. This may sound like basic common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many gun sellers fail to show the price and, as a result, miss out on potential gun sales. Here’s a good example of a vendor at the Norfolk Gun Show in Norfolk, Nebraska who has an organized layout with the cost of each firearm clearly labeled.
Accept Multiple Forms of Payment
Finally, there’s payment. While cash is still king at many gun shows and many customers will use it, it’s ideal to offer several forms of payment, such as debit, credit, and mobile payments like Google Pay, Apple Pay. Fortunately, getting set up has never been easier, and mobile point-of-sale systems are easy to transport to shows. All you need is a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
This can give you a tremendous edge over other vendors who only accept cash and should help give you a better payday when the event is over.
Succeeding at Gun Show Selling
The resurgence of gun shows after the pandemic is exciting news and should be instrumental in many firearms sellers growing their businesses. But to thrive, it’s important to understand things like rules and regulations, ATF compliance, record-keeping, presentation, and payments. Whether you’re just starting or “shaking off the rust,” the tips and strategies listed above should help you get your bearings and increase your chances of success.