Buying firearms of any kind comes with some rules that you must follow to make the transaction legal. The rules are not all the same for each gun type, and it is critical that you understand the law when you are looking at firearms for sale, especially if you are considering pre-owned firearms from a private sale.
Handguns For Sale
Handguns and pistols are heavily regulated firearms in the US. The requirement to register these firearms means that selling them is particularly challenging unless you are looking for firearms for sale through a dealer with a federal firearms license (FFL).
Buying a handgun from a private sale means that there is no way to register the handgun when it is transferred to the new owner. Some gun shops or FFL dealers will make the transfer for you if you ask, but the transaction needs to happen in their shop, and you will need to cover the fees associated with the background check and the registration for the gun.
If you are considering pre-owned firearms for sale from a dealer, they will already own the gun in the eyes of the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) so as a licensed dealer, they can transfer the firearm to you and register it according to the law.
Long Guns for Sale
When you are looking for firearms for sale for hunting or sport shooting, you may want to look at long guns (rifles, shotguns, and muzzleloaders). They are far easier to buy, and you can buy a pre-owned firearm in this category without the registration requirement.
If you buy a long gun through a dealer or gun shop, they can register it for you, but the law does not require registration for all long guns as they are not typically concealable and generally considered sporting arms.
Buying Pre-Owned Guns
Pre-owned firearms can be an excellent way to get a great price on a firearm that you want, but like anything used, you need to scrutinize the firearm. If the gun did not have the proper care and maintenance, it might not be safe.
If you have a local gun shop that you trust, you may want to have the shop owner look at the pre-owned firearms you are considering before you agree to the sale. The condition of the firearm can affect the price, and sometimes a gun that was not well cared for can be reconditioned inexpensively, so if the price is right, it still may be the best option for you.