This is certainly a difficult question to answer. Before we get started, we must give you the disclaimer: We’re not attorneys, we don’t practice law, and we’re not a source of counsel when it comes to interpreting the legalities of firearms at the federal, state, or local level. With that said, we can give you some advice and point you in the right direction based on our informed opinions. Let’s answer the question: I built an AR-15. Can I sell it?
You cannot build an AR-15 with the intent to sell
According to the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), it is perfectly legal to build and own a home-built AR-15, or most types of firearms, in all 50 states if you can otherwise legally own a firearm. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) further states that you do not need a license, nor do you need to submit any paperwork, request any application, nor file any request for a background check to build your own firearm.
[18 U.S.C. 922(o), (p) and (r); 26 U.S.C. 5822; 27 CFR 478.39, 479.62 and 479.105]
There are critical restrictions to this legality, however: You can’t build your AR-15 (or any other firearm) with the original intent of selling it. This constitutes the act of “manufacturing” – building to sell and make profit. This would classify you as a sort of “commercial firearms maker”, in which case you would need an FFL license and a plethora of other legal qualifications to build.
In case you were debating whether you could get away with building your AR-15 with the original intent to sell, consider this: Recently, two men were sentenced to multiple years behind bars for this exact act.
A home-built AR-15 can be potentially be sold later
The GCA states that your home-built firearm can’t be built with the intent of selling. However, common sense states that our intentions may (and likely do) change over time – perhaps you may want to sell your home-built AR-15 later, though you didn’t wish to when you built it.
But does this change of mind violate the GCA and the ATF’s legislation?
Proving the original intent of your AR-15 build
The safest way to legally sell your home-built AR-15 or firearm would be to first prove, before the sale (if ever necessary), your original intent was not to manufacture it for sale or transfer to another individual. But how can you ensure this proof is available and strong enough to keep you in the clear?
Factors such as length of time since your AR-15 build, whether the AR-15 was ever fired, how frequently it was fired, and whether any discussions or suggestions of sale were ever had with other individuals are all pieces of evidence that could prove your original intent was not to build your AR-15 to sell it.
If you sell your home-built AR-15, you’ll need to serialize it
Any homemade AR-15 or firearm that is sold or transferred will be subject to the same regulations and requirements that govern the sale and purchase of a manufactured firearm from a dealer. You’ll need to conduct a background check, execute an FFL transfer, and your home-built AR-15 will need a serial number.