Shipping a Firearm vis the U.S.Postal Service
The terms used in this standard are defined as follows:
a. Handgun means any pistol, revolver, or other firearm or device the mailing of which is regulated by this standard.
b. Pistol or revolver means a handgun styled to be fired by the use of a single hand and to fire or otherwise expel a projectile by the action of an explosion, spring, or other mechanical action, or air or gas pressure with enough force to be used as a weapon.
c. Firearm means any device, including a starter gun, designed to, or that may readily be converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosion, spring, or other mechanical action, or air or gas pressure with enough force to be used as a weapon.
d. Other firearms capable of being concealed on the person include, but are not limited to, short-barreled shotguns and short-barreled rifles.
e. Short-barreled shotgun means a shotgun that has one or more barrels less than 18 inches long. The term short-barreled rifle means a rifle that has one or more barrels less than 16 inches long. These definitions include any weapon made from a shotgun or rifle, whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise, if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches. A short-barreled shotgun or rifle of greater dimension may be regarded as nonmailable when it has characteristics to allow concealment on the person.
f. Licensed manufacturer and licensed dealer mean, respectively, a manufacturer of firearms or a bona fide dealer of firearms, duly licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms of the Department of the Treasury, under the Gun Control Act of 1968 (Public Law 90-618), 18 USC 921, et seq.
g. Antique firearm means any firearm (including those with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898, or any replica thereof, if such replica:
1. Is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition.
2. Uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition that is no longer manufactured in the United States and that is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.
Pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person (referred to as handguns) are nonmailable unless mailed between the parties listed in 12.1.3 and 12.1.5 after the filing of an affidavit or statement required by 12.1.4 and 12.1.6.
Subject to 12.1.4, handguns may be mailed by a licensed manufacturer of firearms, a licensed dealer of firearms, or an authorized agent of the federal government or the government of a state, territory, or district, only when addressed to a person in one of the following categories for use in the person’s official duties:
a. Officers of the Army, Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Organized Reserve Corps.
b. Officers of the National Guard or militia of a state, territory, or district.
c. Officers of the United States or of a state, territory, or district, whose official duty is to serve warrants of arrest or commitment.
d. USPS employees authorized by the Chief Postal Inspector.
e. Officers and employees of enforcement agencies of the United States.
f. Watchmen engaged in guarding the property of the United States, a state, territory, or district.
g. Purchasing agent or other designated member of agencies employing officers and employees included in 12.1.3c. through 12.1.3e.
Any person proposing to mail a handgun under 12.1.3 must file with the postmaster, at the time of mailing, an affidavit signed by the addressee setting forth that the addressee is qualified to receive the firearm under a particular category of 12.1.3a. through 12.1.3g, and that the firearm is intended for the addressee’s official use. The affidavit must also bear a certificate stating that the firearm is for the official duty use of the addressee, signed by one of the following, as appropriate:
a. For officers of Armed Forces, by the commanding officer.
b. For officers and employees of enforcement agencies, by the head of the agency employing the addressee to perform the official duty with which the firearm is to be used.
c. For watchmen, by the chief clerk of the department, bureau, or independent branch of the government of the United States, the state, the territory, or the district by which the watchman is employed.
d. For the purchasing agent or other designated member of enforcement agencies, by the head of such agency, that the firearm is to be used by an officer or employee included in 12.1.3c. through 12.1.3e, Authorized Persons.
Handguns may also be mailed between licensed manufacturers of firearms and licensed dealers of firearms in customary trade shipments, or for repairing or replacing parts.
A licensed manufacturer or dealer need not file the affidavit under 12.1.4, but must file with the postmaster a statement on Form 1508 signed by the mailer that he or she is a licensed manufacturer or dealer of firearms, that the parcels containing handguns (or major component parts thereof) are customary trade shipments or contain such articles for repairing or replacing parts, and that to the best of his or her knowledge or belief the addressees are licensed manufacturers or dealers of firearms.
Handguns may be mailed without regard to 12.1.3 through 12.1.6 if:
a. Addressed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or its director, or to the scientific laboratory or crime detection bureau of any agency whose members are federal law enforcement officers or officers of a state, territory, or district authorized to serve warrants of arrest or commitment; or
b. Offered by an authorized agent of the federal government as an official shipment to any qualified addressee in categories 12.1.3a. through 12.1.3g, or to a licensed manufacturer or dealer of firearms or to a federal agency.
Antique firearms sent as curios or museum pieces may be accepted for mailing without regard to 12.1.3 through 12.1.6.
Although unloaded rifles and shotguns not precluded by 12.1.1e and 12.1.2 are mailable, mailers must comply with the Gun Control Act of 1968, Public Law 90-618, 18 USC 921, et seq., and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder, 27 CFR 178, as well as state and local laws. The mailer may be required by the USPS to establish, by opening the parcel or by written certification, that the gun is unloaded and not precluded by 12.1.1e.
Postmasters are not authorized to give opinions on the legality of any shipment of rifles or shotguns. Contact the nearest office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for further advice.