I swear I'm not an Afghan weapons smuggler
July 12, 2012 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Selling an undocumented gun in Washington state. How do I do it safely, legally, and quickly? I am ignorant about this in every way.

I don't know much about gun laws, which seem byzantine and intimidating to me. My dad gave me an old .22 rifle many years ago. It doesn't have any paperwork that I know of, certainly nothing in my possession or on file anywhere in Washington state.

I've never used the gun and want to get rid of it, but I'm worried that if I try to sell it I'll get in trouble for not having the required registration, licenses, etc. I know the gun's not stolen. There's a pawn shop nearby that buys guns... can I take it there?

Please let me know what's involved in the gun-selling process and how long I can expect it to take. Money is very tight for me right now and I'm hoping I can get a few bucks in my pocket ASAP. I also have a box of ammo that goes with the gun. Can I sell it at the same time? Any extra hoops to jump through?

Additionally, I don't have a case for the gun. Suggestions for transporting it to the buyer? I know better than to carry it out in the open.

Sorry, I'm completely clueless. I just want to get rid of this thing and not worry about it anymore. Posting anonymously in case it turns out that I'm unknowingly a horrible criminal or something.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not a lawyer, but Wikipedia clearly states that long guns (e.g., rifles) do not need to be registered. Open carry, however, is not permitted, so do wrap in a blanket.
posted by bfranklin at 1:12 PM on July 12, 2012

er, should say that Wikipedia says this is the case for your particular state.
posted by bfranklin at 1:13 PM on July 12, 2012

If you can take it apart, just enough to render it very obviously not usable, then A) you might be able to fit it in a duffel bag or the like and B) it's clearly not something you intend to fire right away.

Also, Open Carry of long guns is implicitly legal in Washington, while handguns are explicitly legal for OC. BUT! if you carry in such a fashion that someone feels intimidated, you can be charged with brandishing. In short, partly disassemble and conceal. Keep the ammo separate unless you must take them in the same trip.

If the ammo is very old, e.g. 10 years, consider disposing of it-- .22LR is the cheapest ammo money can buy. Generally the police can advise you on how to dispose of ammo properly, which may involve taking it to them directly.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:30 PM on July 12, 2012

When we found some old guns in my grandfather's property, it turned out that the local police were happy to take them off our hands. I'd give them a call on the non-emergency number and tell them what you told us. They probably won't give you any money for them but it sounds like the .22's not worth much anyway.
posted by Aizkolari at 2:07 PM on July 12, 2012

You'll be fine. I'd actually offer to sell it on Craigslist. WA is full of gun collectors and tinkerers that may be happy to take it off your hands for a little cash - probably not much, though. Current, functioning, secondhand guns often only go for 200-400$. However, someone might also be willing to buy it for parts.

That said: I don't know if your city or any nearby city has a gun buyback program, but if the gun is really old and in bad condition, you might get more for buyback from a police department.
posted by corb at 2:12 PM on July 12, 2012

Two steps for doing this safely:
1. Make sure the gun is unloaded, and that there is not a round in the chamber
2. Always treat a gun as if it is loaded, do not point it at anything you do not wish to destroy

You might think that the second step is unnecessary if you do the first step -- it isn't. Always, always, always treat a gun as if it is loaded.

If you have no idea how to tell if it's loaded, you might want to just call the police non-emergency number and see if you can get them to pick it up from you.
posted by yohko at 3:31 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

For the record, if you call the police non-emergency number, you can get it picked up by the police, who will then destroy it for you.

I saw this happen in Seattle, on a ridealong. Someone found a gun in their yard. It wasn't theirs, and they didn't want to touch it. The called the police, the police came out, took the gun, and took a statement from the finder.

After that, the gun was taken to their range where they verified that it was unloaded. And then, it was locked into evidence, and the gun details were submitted into a national registry, to have it crosschecked against missing and/or stolen firearms.

Obviously, they got no money for the weapon. But it was disposed of safely, and the person wasn't charged (AFAIK) for finding/having it.
posted by spinifex23 at 4:04 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Google to see when there will be a gunshow in your area. Show up early in the morning, the off-duty cops working the door will check the gun to make sure it is unloaded, then go inside and walk around until you find a buyer. Hang a sign around your neck with an asking price (yes, literally) to speed up the process. Don't sell to an out-of-state person.

If you have no idea whatsoever about its value, go to a local Walmart and check the gun pricing book on the counter of the fishing/hunting area (nearest the ammunition). Use that price as a starting point but stay very flexible.
posted by 99percentfake at 4:16 PM on July 12, 2012

FYI, you can't sell guns (and other weapons) on craigslist--at least in my state. It's against their policies and specifically listed as a prohibited item.

You wouldn't get much for a 22 rifle anyway, unless it was rare or otherwise significant/interesting. You may want to do another post here or on a firearm forum to identify it and its value, but it's likely not worth much, like under $100, closer to $50 or less.

BTW, a gunstore, pawnshop, and gunshows are all filled with people hoping to find someone like you--but with a rare unidentified item they can take off your hands for a song. Like with any other item, you'll get closer to full value by selling to an individual. You might get more from a police buyback program, if they're doing that.
posted by danny the boy at 5:46 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

FYI, you can't sell guns (and other weapons) on craigslist--at least in my state. It's against their policies and specifically listed as a prohibited item.

This is true, the ad will get flagged and taken down very quickly. You should not count on flagging to protect you from posting prohibited items inadvertently though, as craigslist may have already pushed the ad to RSS feeds and email filters. So if you were to want to sell the ammunition on craigslist you would want to check their policies first to see if it is allowed.

As far as how quickly you can get money, a private buyer should be paying you cash on the spot. I have no experience with pawn shops but my impression is that they often deal in cash. If it turns out this is a rare gun that would be worth more money, selling it online would probably be a more lengthy process (check the laws on shipping firearms, you'll probably need to go through an FFL dealer who is licensed to do that), or selling it to a gun shop or at a gun show should be for cash too.

Basically you should be getting paid the same way as you would for anything else -- you'd probably want cash, and you'd probably want the cash at the same time you gave the buyer your item.
posted by yohko at 6:39 PM on July 12, 2012

I am told you can sell it on Gunbroker, and can expect probably about a hundred, depending on make and model. If you give the make and model, the subject matter expert I queried on the subject can give you a more precise answer. Also, private sales are completely legal in WA.
posted by corb at 8:05 PM on July 12, 2012

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