trading/purchasing firearms from people met online (armslist/craigslist/etc)

trading/purchasing firearms from people met online (armslist/craigslist/etc)

This is a discussion on trading/purchasing firearms from people met online (armslist/craigslist/etc) within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I have read this site on and off for quite awhile now and have learned a huge amount in all of the discussions. Today I ...

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Thread: trading/purchasing firearms from people met online (armslist/craigslist/etc)

  1. #1
    Member Array brownandgold's Avatar
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    trading/purchasing firearms from people met online (armslist/craigslist/etc)

    I have read this site on and off for quite awhile now and have learned a huge amount in all of the discussions. Today I joined to get in on the discussions as well as possibly receive some answers to a couple questions I have. I am a licensed carry permit holder, as it will probably apply to my questions.

    Before I start my story, I have read on here as well as other places online to follow my gut in regards to these situations and it is one of the reasons I am here.

    I have traded items for a firearm on craiglist once before and it went seamlessly. We met in a big box store parking lot, went over each others items, and went on our way. I have recently listed some items on an online trading site and received a phone call this evening from a gentleman saying he had guns he never used and was looking to get rid of. I told him what I was looking for and he had one I was interested in and asked him questions about though he wasn't overly knowlegable than the basics. He followed that by saying "not that I really need the items you are trading, but i would get more use out of them than these guns" (which I deemed a fair enough statement, but found it odd when he repeated it 3-4 more times throughout our conversation). We worked out a fair trade deal, then I asked him about where he would like to meet.

    This is when red flags (at least I think so, which is why I am asking) started popping up. Turned out our towns are 10 miles apart, to which he responded by saying he could drive over tonight (this is 7:30 PM, complete darkness, rural area, super sketchy showing him where I live obviously) because he wasn't busy. I thought that was odd, declined and said I was busy, then suggested after work sometime this week or on the weekend in a chain store parking lot similar to how I had done it before. He told me he didn't think we should show a gun in public so we should - wait for it - "meet in a place where there aren't any cameras." This immediately put me on guard but I said it shouldn't be a big deal as I have done it before as long as we aren't stupid about it and don't make a scene for no reason. He beat around the bush trying to tell me he wasn't sure about that, to which I asked with a joking tone if the gun was stolen. He then went on to say "well as long as your stuff is legit and everything because my stuff is legit." I told him I would be in touch if I decided I wanted to go through with it for sure, not letting on that it seemed very suspicious. Personally I think he is trying to peddle a stolen firearm and I want nothing to do with that.

    The reason I made this thread is because I have a few simple questions for some of you possibly more experienced members.

    Am I right for assuming the worst based on what this guy said? I could possibly see someone being nervous about certain things but the comment about meeting somewhere without cameras really threw up a red flag.

    If I contact a gun shop (sorry they were closed by the time this all happened or I would have called, plan on calling in the morning) could they possibly run the serial number to the firearm to determine if it has ever been reported stolen? Or would a police department be willing to do that?

    Do gun shops ever handle these transactions as a 3rd party? Such as buying from a different gun shop over the internet, do they ever act as a safe environment/escrow for these type of transactions? Wasn't sure if this was something that gun stores did for what I assumed would be a small fee. But on the other hand I also realize this could be a big liability, though I can't imagine many criminals would be dumb enough to step foot in a gun shop to buy/sell/trade stolen guns - but then again, they are criminals.

    I wouldn't go meet someone in this type of situation alone or not armed, but I just wanted to make sure my concerns are legitimate (and that they are concerns others would have as well based on my conversation) and I'm not the one being paranoid. That being said it was a pretty fair deal, and not one that's "too good to be true" (at least in my opinion). I was hoping some of you might have had experience meeting people from arms list, craigslist, etc. or perhaps what you would do in this situation. I'm pretty sure my mind is set on walking away before something bad comes of it, but I figured it didn't hurt to ask.

    Sorry for the novel, but thanks in advance for your insights/experiences.


  2. #2
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    Don't have all the answers to your questions....BUT, I will pass this along:

    When in doubt...follow your first mind!
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Array Brent95's Avatar
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    Personally,and simply going by what you have typed,i wouldn't touch it with a 10 ft. pole.
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    VIP Member Array StormRhydr's Avatar
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    The "no cameras" part is a deal breaker for me. Either this guy is a felon in possession of a weapon, which is illegal, or hes planning something you wouldnt like. Or, hes not yet convicted of anything, he just stole that weapon, doesnt want to be seen with it.

    Another way to look at this situation: If you have to ask, you ought to pass.
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    I think it's fair to be up front with your requirements for the sale - meet in daylight hours in a public place, and you exchange identification (such as DL info). Assuming you're not buying something the size of a tracked howitzer, exchanging even a long gun can be done discreetly in the public eye. If the seller isn't willing to accept your modest requirements , then - no sale/trade.

    And welcome to the forum! I note your location is ambiguous - is it Connecticut, Ohio or North Carolina?
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  6. #6
    Distinguished Member Array sealteam20001's Avatar
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    RED FLAG. Why take a chance!! Lots of guns around.. My 2 cents
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Array Hoplyte's Avatar
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    Trust your gut.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Array Hatrix's Avatar
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    Sold a Nano on Armslist a while back. Listed it, got contacted by email, called the person, decided on a fair price, and suggested we meet somewhere. He lived within 5 minutes of me, so we met in the middle at a parking lot of a store in a busy intersection. Turned out to be a nice older gentleman. We have since kept in contact and even gone to the range once to shoot. You can meet good people in these types of dealings, but when it all comes down to it, you have to trust your gut and go by instinct.

    I wouldn't deal with the guy. From the sounds of it, he doesn't have any good intentions one way or the other. Be it trying to pass off stolen goods, or even worse, planning on trying to rob you for your stuff. It's not illegal to buy/trade/out rightly give someone a weapon somewhere "public" such as a parking lot someplace. And I dang sure wouldn't invite him to my place, that's bad news waiting to come to your door step. Hold off and wait for another buyer/seller, whatever your case may be.
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  9. #9
    Member Array saigaguy's Avatar
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    Okay I would have thought this would be passed along already. I WILL NOT deal with somebody if they do not give me the serial number of the gun over the phone. If he refuses to give you the serial # - then hang up the phone. I've bought handguns off of 'floridaguntrader.com'. Also on Facebook, there's a florida gun trader group, so you actually know you're possibly talking to a real person, plus they ban sketchy people from the group whenever possible! I feel better being able to have a name in front of me that I can look up on the Sheriff's website to see if they're a felon, etc!

    You can type the serial number into this free website, it will tell you if its stolen.
    FDLE Public Access System | Stolen Guns Search

    Remember to save that serial number and match it up to the gun if you do end up meeting him in a public well lit place!
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  10. #10
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    I've done 28 transactions (buy and sell) through an online gun forum. Some simple tips:

    1) See if the person has a feedback score. If you are cautious, don't engage unless the person has, say, at least five positives and no negatives. Read his or her posts. Get a feel of the person.

    2) I do try to meet in daylight, typically in open lots by restaurants. Never meet at home, of course.

    3) Again, daytime is your friend. Lots of sunlight. I've met people at night on a few occasions, but the feedback scores for those people were good, and their post counts were high. I know it's not great logic, but I figure if a guy is out for a thrill kill, he's probably not the happy chatty type on the gun forum. Again, it's not great logic, but I do what I can with what I got. Also, it's easier to examine a gun in sunlight.

    4) Show ID's, no copies - just make sure you and the other party are residents of the same state.

    5) I don't require this, but some also require a carry license - they won't sell or trade unless you have a carry license. Guess the logic is the state has already checked you out, and you aren't a felon (or at least have never been caught!).


    Can't answer your other questions re police, gun shops, etc. But if you find a shop that would do a FFL transfer, you'll incur the transfer fee the FFL charges, I'm sure. And you'll likely lose the sale, as most people don't want to deal with that hassle. I wouldn't.

    In your case, the "no cameras" would make me think. Just seems kind of odd.
    Last edited by PEF; November 6th, 2013 at 11:33 PM. Reason: Got rid of the dumb joke. Ya never know
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  11. #11
    Member Array nmbr5ml's Avatar
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    The local criminals where I live have been absolutely feasting on people they meet for craigslist deals. The Daylight populated area thing is good thinking, but no guarantee that you won't be victimized. Criminals are dumb. Many of the local incidents have been in mall parking lots in broad daylight, and the victims have been robbed, carjacked, pistol-whipped, etc. They invariably involve multiple suspects, making it a hairy situation no matter how well you prepare.

    I'm not really the type who is paranoid or avoids risk, but I gotta tell you I can't see a way for the benefit to outweigh the risk in your scenario. The fact the guy came across like a sack of dirt on the phone should be all the confirmation you need.

  12. #12
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brownandgold View Post
    ... to which he responded by saying he could drive over tonight (this is 7:30 PM, complete darkness, rural area, super sketchy showing him where I live obviously) because he wasn't busy.

    ... then suggested after work sometime this week or on the weekend in a chain store parking lot ... "meet in a place where there aren't any cameras."

    ... to which I asked with a joking tone if the gun was stolen. He then went on to say "well as long as your stuff is legit and everything because my stuff is legit." Personally I think he is trying to peddle a stolen firearm and I want nothing to do with that.
    I'd have a problem doing a transaction at night, at my home, with someone whom I don't know.

    I'd have a problem doing a transaction at a spot specifically selected to be without camera surveillance.

    I generally have no problem doing FTF transactions, but only after I've nailed down I want to buy pending a check on the S/N and only where the person has a CHL. Like you, I'm leery of meeting someone whose goal is to roll me over, so I take some basic precautions. I speak with them on the phone, I check the S/N, I ensure the meeting place is one in which it's very risky to roll me unwitnessed, and I go fully armed and circumspect.


    Am I right for assuming the worst based on what this guy said? I could possibly see someone being nervous about certain things but the comment about meeting somewhere without cameras really threw up a red flag.
    Perhaps you weren't correct in the assumptions. But the little "voice" in the back of your mind is there for good reason, as are the hairs on the back of your neck. Listen to them. They're often spot-on. And when your life is the thing in the balance, IMO it's worth being cautious.


    If I contact a gun shop (sorry they were closed by the time this all happened or I would have called, plan on calling in the morning) could they possibly run the serial number to the firearm to determine if it has ever been reported stolen? Or would a police department be willing to do that?
    In some states, there's a number you can call to do your own check on the S/N, without having to do it through a shop. You'll get charged the fee for doing so, of course, but it can be useful for folks doing FTF purchases. Can be used as the last condition of purchase, once agreement has been made ... pending successful passing of the check.


    Do gun shops ever handle these transactions as a 3rd party? Such as buying from a different gun shop over the internet, do they ever act as a safe environment/escrow for these type of transactions?
    For those concerned about FTF transactions, most shops will indeed arrange a transfer at the shop, for the standard transfer fee of course. Puts the transaction on record, under camera, with witnesses, in a generally safe spot, along with a check being performed. Works for many people who aren't otherwise comfortable with a FTF transaction with strangers.


    Some folks pooh-pooh precautions beyond going armed and keeping one's eyes open. Myself, I tend to be a bit more cautious than that, but I've done a number of FTF transactions. Haven't been rolled yet, primarily because (I think) I hammer away in the initial phone discussions and I do my homework. Won't meet with someone that raises the hairs on my neck, ever. But that's just me. And in those cases where it seems a bit wonky, I'll do it through a shop. Works well, at least so far, either way.
    Last edited by ccw9mm; November 6th, 2013 at 11:45 PM. Reason: wait for it ... grammar, spelling
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  13. #13
    Member Array saigaguy's Avatar
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    Okay, first off, I am in Florida so that FDLE site is for Florida, not North Carolina (is that where you live?). Sorry about that, maybe N.C. has their own site?
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  14. #14
    Member Array saigaguy's Avatar
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    Okay, first off, I am in Florida so that FDLE site is for Florida, not North Carolina (is that where you live?). Sorry about that, maybe N.C. has their own site?


    Always use a gun bill of sale!
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    Member Array saigaguy's Avatar
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    Okay, first off, I am in Florida so that FDLE site is for Florida, not North Carolina (is that where you live?). Sorry about that, maybe N.C. has their own site?


    Always use a gun bill of sale!
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