Texas Gun Registration (or lack thereof)
A common question many gun owners in Texas have is "How do I register my gun?" In Texas, there is no registration process for firearms and firearms are not registered to an owner. Other states, such as Illinois or New Jersey, require gun owners to register with the state and document any firearms in their possession. Our great State of Texas holds no such registry.
Practically, what does this mean? If a private individual sells, gifts, or otherwise transfers a firearm to another individual, there is no reporting requirement and no documentation of the sale is required. There is no way to "change" the name associated with the firearm.
Document sales and transfers
Although it is not legally required, it would be prudent to document the sale or transfer of any firearms by using a "bill of sale." This is a simple document which needs only include the names of the parties, the date of the transaction, and the serial number of the firearm. Why bother if the law doesn't require any documentation? Once a firearm leaves your possession, you can never be quite sure where it will wind up. For example, if you sell your gun and it is later recovered in Mexico, the gun may be traced back to you and the ATF might have some questions that need answering. If you find yourself in such a situation it would be extremely beneficial to have a clear record of your lawful transaction.
Keep an inventory
As you buy and sell guns over the years, we recommend you always keep an inventory of your current firearms in the event any are ever lost, stolen, or destroyed. If your home is broken into, you can use the inventory to look up the serial numbers of stolen firearms and quickly report them to the police. Additionally, if your firearms are destroyed or lost due to a natural disaster you will have a documented record to support any insurance claims. Be sure to keep your inventory in a safe, secure location and record the make, model, serial number, and the date of acquisition of your firearms.
Make sure it's legal
Bear in mind that although there is no registration process in Texas, that doesn't mean you can buy and sell without taking the law into consideration. If you have reason to believe the buyer is intoxicated, under the age of 18, prohibited from possessing firearms, or intends to commit a crime with the firearm, Texas law prohibits you from completing your sale. Further, there are several situations where federal law is implicated.
If you sell or transfer a firearm to a citizen of another state, you are required to go through a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer ("FFL"). This means if you have a relative visiting from out of state you cannot simply give him a firearm as you would another Texas resident. As absurd as it sounds, you would both need to go to an FFL dealer together or have an FFL dealer ship the firearm to another FFL dealer in your relative's home state. Similarly, National Firearms Act ("NFA") restricted items are also subject to federal law and any transfer of such items must go through the ATF.
Make sure you are complying with the law on transfers of firearms, and always—document, document, document!
Author: Dylan Price
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website does not contain legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Every case is different, and this material is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of, a licensed attorney.