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I want to know if it is presumably/presumptively/normally illegal to barter using firearms. Is it illegal to barter one firearm for another firearm? Can services or goods other than firearms be rendered in exchange for firearms when no money is exchanged?

I'm not concerned with the tax implications here, just for the sake of simplicity. I'm also not concerned with the precise definition of money, for the same reason, unless everything is money in a legal sense once a barter happens. For a concrete example, could I legally manufacture and exchange a firearm with another adult for furniture, routinely or even once?

This all assumes:

  1. No party is a known criminal
  2. No party inspects the ID of the other or performs a background check
  3. Each party is known to be or appears to be old enough to own a firearm legally
  4. One party barters regularly in this manner using firearms and firearm components
  5. No party is licensed to sell firearms

If this is legal only under narrow circumstances, I would appreciate knowing the nuances.

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As far as I am aware there is no prohibition against bartering firearms in general. This would be an odd prohibition since it is legal to gift and lend firearms. However, some of your situations change this.

could I legally manufacture and exchange a firearm

If you manufactured a firearm with the intent to sell you would be required to have an FFL. If this was a one-off sale of a firearm you manufactured at some point in the past for personal use this can be legal without an FFL. There are some additional requirements for the transfer.

No party is a known criminal

It is illegal to sell or give a firearm to someone you know to be a prohibited possessor. Not all criminals are prohibited from owning firearms, but this helps keep you safe.

No party inspects the ID of the other or performs a background check

This is state dependent. Some states make you go through an FFL for all transfers, others are much less strict. New Hampshire does not require private sales to go through an FFL if you know the buyer personally.

Each party is known to be or appears to be old enough to own a firearm legally

This is required for your scheme to be legal.

One party barters regularly in this manner using firearms and firearm components

This person is now engaged in the business of selling firearms and must be a registered FFL and jump through all the corresponding hoops.

No party is licensed to sell firearms

Not typically required, unless you do this in a regular basis.

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    Do you want to specifically address "manufacture"? That alone would require a specific federal ATF license. – George White Apr 1 at 0:31
  • Just to be clear, it sounds like there is no legal distinction between "barter" and "sell" regarding firearm "sales". So I couldn't legally exchange manufactured firearms regularly for services or goods. – haleonj Apr 3 at 11:34
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    @haleonj That is my understanding. Although it isnt just "regularly". You cant buy or manufacturer even a single firearm with the intent to sell it to someone without a FFL. – Matt Apr 3 at 13:43

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