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Is Legal to Sell a gun that isn’t registered in my name?

“Is it legal to sell a gun that isn’t registered in my name?”

Texas is classed as a “shall issue” state with the law granting ownership of firearms to any person at least 18 years old. Texas gun laws do not regulate the possession of firearms, meaning any person can possess a firearm as long as they are not a felon. Popular to common belief, you don’t actually “register” guns in the State of Texas – there is no formal database. In fact, The Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 ensures that the authorities can’t implement this kind of database even if they wanted to.

To discuss the practical application of gun ownership, Ft. Bend County defense attorney Shawn McDonald explains how Texans can own and sell guns without criminal liability. You may not be aware that if you lawfully and civically obtain a firearm from someone, you can keep to use at your discretion or sell the firearm to someone else entirely. As long as you did not make a civic agreement with the original owner and the gun was not stolen, you are within your rights to keep or sell a gun.

This brings up a few lingering questions. What happens if you are a victim of gun theft? And, what precautions should you take before buying someone else’s firearm?

If you are a victim of gun theft, it’s important that you report the crime to law enforcement immediately. Hopefully, you have kept a record of firearms in your possession and can recite the make, model, and the serial number of the firearm to the police. From there, they will enter it into a stolen database they use, which increases the likelihood it will be returned to you and out of the hand of the criminals. 

On the flip side, if you are the potential buyer of a gun from a friend or acquaintance, arm yourself with knowledge before purchasing the firearm. It is impossible to know a gun’s history 100%, but you can check online or with local law enforcement to see if the gun has been reported stolen. As a second precaution, consider the trustworthiness of the seller. Whether it’s a gun show vendor or an old friend, exercise caution. You should be able to obtain a bill of sale or other proof to confirm the purchase. Lastly, be knowledgeable about gun prices and resale value. If you are being offered a gun at a suspiciously low price, that should be a red flag.

Given the possible consequences of buying and selling guns, both parties should be well-informed before acting. 

Looking for more information? Contact us or check out our blog post on “Can you carry a gun in your car without a gun license?”

Video Transcript

Interviewer 1: “If I want to sell the guns is it legal? The guns are not registered in my name. Is that legal that I even have them? If I want to keep them do I need to register them in my name? If yes, how do I do this?”

Interviewer 2: “So, let me understand the question. Is… Somebody owed him some money and instead of giving him money, they gave him some guns.”

Interviewer 1: “As collateral.”

Interviewer 2: “As collateral.”

Interviewer 1: “Correct.”

Interviewer 2: “They never brought back the money. So E.J. still has the guns.”

Interviewer 1: “Correct. That’s right”

Interviewer 2: “And he wants to know if it’s legal to keep them, have them.”

Interviewer 1: “Yeah. They’re not registered in his name. Is that legal for him to have them? If he wants to keep them does he need to register them? How does he do this? And so forth.”

Interviewer 2: “He should keep them and not register them.”

Shawn McDonald: “Yeah, there is no registration in Texas. You can’t even… It’s no possible to register a firearm in Texas.”

Interviewer 1: “Ok.”

Shawn McDonald: “The only time you ever register a firearm is if you have a firearm that you have to register: a short barrel rifle or a suppressor. There is no register… You could… There’s no possible way for you to buy a firearm and go register it in Texas. There is no database to register firearms. So he has a right to own those weapons or have those weapons. Now civilly it may be a different story. If there was some agreement like, “Hey, I’m giving you these for 6 months. I’ll pay you back in 6 months.” And in 4 months he sells all these guns. Well, he could be liable civilly. But criminally, if he has the guns, he has a right to sell the guns unless they’re stolen.”


*This blog post, “Is it legal to sell a gun that isn’t registered in my name?”, is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.