Can You Return a Gun After You Buy It? 7 FAQs and Answers
Can you return a gun after you buy it? The answer is often yes, if certain conditions are met. And the primary one is that the gun is defective, rather than the fact that you don’t want it anymore or had unrealistic expectations about its performance.
Let’s learn more about gun regulations regarding purchases and returns. We'll also discuss what you can do when the gun seller won't take it back and what you can do to protect yourself from defective guns.
7 FAQs of Can You Return a Gun after You Buy It?
01. Can You Return a Gun If You Don’t Want It Anymore?
In many cases, the answer is no. They may let you return it after a day or two, assuming it has not been used. In almost every case, the answer is no after a week or so. The gun shop doesn’t know how much you’ve used it. They may not be able to do much if it has been heavily worn, except to buy it as a used weapon.
But they wouldn’t accept it as a return after it has been used for two months. They can’t accept it if you’ve modified it. This is true whether you added after-market parts or tried to blue the gun at home. The only exception is if the gun isn’t what you were promised.
For example, if the seller promised you that it was a model X by a given brand and it is actually model Y, they were guilty of selling you fake goods. If the gun turns out to be a knockoff or outright fake, you can demand that they take it back.
But they don’t have to do so, if the store policy was no returns. Yet you might be able to sue them if that Glock isn’t really a Glock but a Chinese knockoff, assuming you can prove it and afford a lawyer to take the case. The law is more favorable in cases where the product is outright defective.
02. Can You Return a Gun If It Is Defective?
Defective guns can generally be returned to the location where you bought it. After all, they did the background check on you and have the record of the sale. They may offer store credit toward a replacement gun or replace the gun.
Learn what the store policies are on guns before you buy it, if you’re concerned with its quality. Another possible route is going to the manufacturer. If you buy a new gun, then it should have a warranty just like a new car.
On the other hand, if the gun doesn’t have a warranty, it is either not authentic or not new. If there is a valid warranty, the gun manufacturer may repair it or replace it.
Going to The Manufacturer
That is at their discretion. You’ll have to go to the manufacturer, because the gun dealer probably got it through a distributor. Going to the manufacturer is faster, too, than going to the distributor. The distributor will process it and send it to the factory for warranty work, anyway.
A gun manufacturer is the best solution if the gun has been recalled. The manufacturer may know of problems with the gun and issue a recall. If that’s the case, the manufacturer should be willing ot fix it for free.
Note that all of this is only true for new guns. The rules are generally different for used guns.
03. Can You Return a Used Gun?
We asked the question: can you return a gun after you buy it? For new guns, it is easy to say that it is defective if it isn’t working as expected, so it is easy to prove it is defective. For used guns, this is much more difficult because of wear and tear you put it through.
And the wear and tear on a used gun for sale is even greater. You don’t know if the seller used overloaded rounds or didn’t clear rust from the barrel. You may not know if there are bad springs inside of it. An honorable seller may take the gun back, but most would not.
One possible exception to this is if you bought a used gun through an auction site. If you can demonstrate that the gun had flaws that weren’t disclosed to you, then the seller is guilty of deception in the transaction.
You should be able to return it or get your money back through the gun auction site. If the gun has a transferrable warranty, then you may be able to go to the manufacturer for service.
Note that the warranty is only good for five to ten years, but the warranty will follow the gun, not the owner. This is independent of the free repairs done under most warranties.
Return Policy of The Private Party
Used guns sold by a private party are rarely returnable. After all, there is no store return policy. If it is defective, there are relatively few options. One is selling it to a gun store for half or less than its list price. They’ll test it, fix it, and then resell it.
If you can get it repaired, you can try to resell it. Ironically, this is why gun buyers should either know how to inspect guns for damage such as that caused by someone using the wrong ammo or take the gun to be inspected. This is akin to taking a used car to a mechanic to be inspected before you buy it.
04. Can I Return Ammunition?
All sales are final on ammunition at nearly every store. This mirrors the fact that most gun sales are final, too, with a few exceptions. For example, you can return ammo if there has been a recall by the manufacturer.
05. How Can I Avoid Buying a Defective Gun?
Being an educated consumer is one solution, but this can be hard to do when you’re just getting started. It can even be challenging for someone buying a type of gun they’re unfamiliar with, such as when you go from shotguns to pistols.
Testing the gun on a gun range is a potential solution. Yet this is only a solution if the gun store is connected to a gun range and lets you try it before you buy it.
Can You Test a Gun’s Reliability?
Renting the same make and model of gun may let you try it out just like you’re test driving a type of car, but this doesn’t let you test a specific gun’s reliability. You don’t know if the springs in the gun you actually want will break within thirty rounds.
Bringing a gun smith with you to inspect the gun can be difficult, and taking the gun to a smith for inspection the day after you buy it is only practical if they have a good return policy. (And then, only if you don’t use it in the interim.)
06. What Should I Avoid Doing If I Think the Gun Is Defective?
Suppose you buy the gun and realize there is something wrong with the gun, do not take it apart or try to fix it. This makes it easier for the seller to say the problem is due to something you did. Contact the seller immediately to discuss solutions.
If they direct you to the manufacturer, then contact the manufacturer. However, they will record the return of the gun as defective when it is sent to the manufacturer for repair; they’re legally required to document when the gun is defective per FFL regulations.
07. Why Don’t Stores Want to Accept Returned Guns?
The main issue is liability. They don’t want to take the chance that someone buys a gun, commits a crime with it, and then returns it. Nor do they want to sell a gun, get a damaged one back, and then get sued if the damage to the gun causes someone serious injuries down the line.
Major retailers like Walmart already get sued in fake slips and falls, so of course there will be lawsuits if a gun blows up in someone’s hands and causes serious burns. It is literally safer to say all gun sales are final.
And in those cases where the gun is returned in a day or two without much evidence of wear, they discount its value due to the risk associated with the return. That’s why a brand new gun returned the next day to a gun store may be bought back at the used gun price. And if you’re stuck with such a gun, it may be easier to sell it to the local gun store as a used gun.
You’ll be paid, at best, 80 percent of the original value. They will never give you 100 percent of its value, because of the work required to meet Federal Firearms Licensing or FFL regulations.
Note that this is why you cannot return a gun you didn’t buy, either. The gun must be returned by the person who bought it, if you’ll get anything for it.
On the other hand, there is no federal law that prohibits returning guns. It is the gun store’s choice to limit their liability and minimize the paperwork they have to do.
This is very different from buying a pet water bowl or chair and returning it, especially if it is still in the original packaging. With innocuous products like these, you may get a 100 percent refund. There’s little to no risk for accepting it, even if they dispose of it later.
Understand the rules regarding gun returns before you buy one, and take care to make sure you don't buy one that you can't return. If the gun turns out to be defective or isn't what you were promised, you may have recourse but must still tread carefully.
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