Letter Re: Purchasing Modern Firearms Without a Paper Trail

My Rawles,
I am recently new to your SurvivalBlog web site. I have thoroughly enjoyed trying to catch up and read the thousands of posts. While I have always felt the need to be prepared for any eventuality, I have recently began more intensive preparations up on food, ammo, water and learning every thing (like making soap) that I can.
I have grown up around guns and hunting my entire life. Of the four guns that I have, 12 gauge, 16 gauge, .22 [rimfire] rifle and 9 mm pistol, I have only purchased one myself: the 9mm pistol. The other three were given to me as gifts by grand parents (generally ones they had and no longer use). The reason I am emailing you is that, while I do not want to go to jail for doing anything illegal, I am interested if there are ways to purchase firearms, especially kinds like AR-15 etc, without having a paper trail that the government could use to confiscate them in times of crisis? Obviously it would be nice to have ones that were not used in previously committed crimes that I could be blamed for.
For example, if the government were to ban firearms, I would be able to say, “all I have is this 9mm pistol” and therefore be left with my other three guns hidden away. (And of course whatever [more] I may purchase in the near future.) Any suggestions? Respectfully, – LowProfileGuy

JWR Replies: Here in these United States, acquiring firearms without a paper trail depends a lot on your state laws, which vary widely. This might seem odd to our readers in England, who are accustomed to a uniform “Country Code.” But here in the States there is an odd patchwork of laws. Some states now require registration of modern (post-1898 manufactured) guns. Most states, thankfully, still do not. In those states you can still make an intrastate “private party” purchase of a used gun. This sort of transaction is strictly between two adult private citizens that both live in the same state, and the transfer is not processed through a Federally licensed dealer. Typically, you can find local private party sellers in through newspaper ads, at gun shows, or through GunsAmerica.com. (For the latter, you can use their Advanced Search feature to find only guns offered in your own state, and that are being sold only by non-licensees.) Proviso: Research your state and local laws before making a purchase, since laws vary widely!

The chances of a gun being stolen or previously used in a a crime are very small. But if that worries you, then you can have a friend in law enforcement run a check on it. (You will need to supply the make, model, caliber, and serial number.)

Another great opportunity to buy guns without a paper trail is to buy pre-1899 manufactured Federally exempt antique cartridge guns. These can even be sold across state lines without a paper trail, because they are entirely outside of Federal jurisdiction . They will also presumably be “below the radar” in the event of nationwide (Federal) gun registration. I have written a detailed FAQ on this subject. There are a few pre-1899 dealers that I recommend, including The Pre-1899 Specialist (one of our advertisers) and Empire Arms.

OBTW, 16 gauge is now an uncommon chambering and shells for it might be scarce WTSHTF. So unless it has sentimental or family history value I recommend that you trade your 16 gauge for another 12 gauge (preferably with a 3 inch or 3-1/2 inch chamber), or perhaps use it in trade toward the purchase of a .308 Winchester rifle.