How can I legally dispose of a firearm?

I have a never-used Remington 870 12g shotgun and a box of shotshells that I would like to dispose of or sell. I have all the original paperwork and accessories.

My questions are

  1. Can I sell the gun online? Ebay won’t accept it, and I’m at a loss as to what other options are available.

  2. May I ship the gun out-of-state? Do I have to remove the barrel before shipping? I know I can only ship to a FFL dealer and that I can’t ship ammo with the gun.

  3. What about gun shops? I’m not sure which factors makes a gun depreciate, but since the gun has never been fired, could I get at least half of what I paid?

  4. As a last resort, could I donate the gun to the local police department?
    I really hope my questions don’t sound stupid–I know nothing about the world of gun trading/selling. My only concern is selling or disposing of the gun safely and legally. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.


Depends on your state more or less for what the actual rules are. Places like California and New York are very restrictive.

In general, in most of the US:

1)You can sell the gun online at or or Many gun discussion forums have for sale sections.

2)If you sell it out of state, you must ship it to a FFL. You can mail a unloaded shotgun. Ammo can’t be sent with a firearm or through the US mail. UPS will send it ground. The package must be marked OrmD.

3)Gunshops will lowball the heck out of you. Getting half on an obviously used shotgun would be lucky IMO.

4)A police department would probably take it off your hands.

Some other points:

You are only allowed to sell it to same state residents above the age of 18. They can’t be prohibited posessors like a felon. You don’t have to do a background check though. But if you know beforehand that the person isn’t legally allowed to own a gun, then you can get in trouble.

When I sell a shotgun or rifle, I usually advertise on a gun discussion forum. I get paid with a USPS Money Order. I verify the dealer’s FFL number with the BATFE online at before mailing it. Either a file copy of the FFL is sent with the money order, and I send it back with the gun. Or, as I prefer, I’m provided with just the FFL number.

It may vary by state. Proably you can:

1- Advertise it in newspaper and sell to private individual. Have them sign a statement in front of a notary that they are at least 21 yrs. old, a US citizen, not a convicted felon, mental patient, and have no other issues that would preclude them from leagally purchasing a firearm. Those are the reasons it would be illeagle for you to sell them the gun.

2-Take it to a sporting goods, or gun store that sells used guns. They will either buy it outright, or sell it on consignment for you. They will take care of above paperwork, and can do background check which will help your piece of mind. Call first and make sure they are interested, and find out how they like guns to arrive in thier store (usually prefer in box or case, one place I know has backdoor they prefer to be used, as they are on a very busy street, and passing motorists become alarmed when they see armed people walking into store.)

Most gun stores do this. Non-chain sporting goods stores usually do as well. Chain type sporting goods stores normally only carry new guns and occassionally trade-ins.

3-Take it to a gun show and sell to one of the vendors.

4-Have a gun savy friend or relative handle it for you. I was once asked to do this and it turned out the gun was technically illeagle…An air force survival gun that fell under the rules as a “sawed off shotgun”. I was able to verify that, so didn’t get involv2ed.

Just from the “feel” of the OP, I’d recommend option 2 or 4. You don’t sound like you are comfortable with having this in your possion…therefore I assume you would be uncomfortable handling sale, and possibly unqualified to determine an appropriate price.

Avoid pawn shops unless you are willing to settle for ~25% of the guns fair market value.

You absolutely cannot sell a gun across state lines yourself. The procesure for so-called online gun autions are to send it to a dealer within the buyer’s state who then legally transfers it to the buyer. Removing the barrel doesn’t satisfy any legal requirement in this regard.

Unlikely but worth a try. At the very least you can learn more about the legal requirements

What do you want for it? I could use a second 870.

Consignment, as Kevbo mentioned, is a good way to do it, as you can set the gun on the shelf and forget about it until it gets sold. You may need to make sure whose insurance covers the gun whilst it is on the gun dealer’s premises, as they do get robbed from time to time.

IMO, the best way is through a private sale, as you’ll likely get the best deal. But before you do it, check with the laws in your state with regard to the private transfer of firearms.

There are a couple ways to do a private sale:

  1. Advertise it in the local paper or want ads.
  2. Sell it at a gun show.

I don’t like #1. You see, I don’t want strangers coming over to my house to look at guns. So if I advertise in the paper, I must make arrangements to meet somewhere. This is inconvenient, and may even be dangerous.

#2 is the way to go. A gun show is a safe place to do business, and no one needs to know where you live.

What’s the procedure for surrendering a gun to the cops? Call first? Walk in and say, “Hey, I’ve got a gun out in my trunk I’d like to get rid of?”

Why do that? They probably won’t give you anything for it. And it will probably just end up in a private collection. I mean, a gun is worth something, especially if it’s never been shot. NIB Remington 870? She could probably get at least $250 for it.

Long before you do that- smash it good with a sledgehammer, wipe it clean, and dump it in the east river or your local equivilant. Cops get suspicious when dudes “surrender” a gun.

For naifs- sell it to a gunshop that does a lot of used guns. Take it to a couple and see what they say. It’s safeest.

That’s exactly correct. If you don’t think the gun’s worth much money, it’s the easiest way to safely get rid of it. Get a receipt with the serial number, too, and you’ll be off the hook if it’s ever used in a crime.

Another avenue for getting rid of a gun quickly and easily is a pawnshop. They don’t pay much, but it’s a snap.

Why would someone who has nothing to conceal destroy a perfectly good firearm?

That said there are sometimes legitimate reasons to destroy a firearm and there are correct ways to do it. If doing so you generally only need only destroy the reciever, the frame. With extremely few exceptions all the other parts in a firearm are unregulated by federal law. Barrels, stocks, internal parts, etc. are just parts that can be purchased by anyone anywher and even by the mail. Some parts are not sold to end users by the manufactuer, only to gunsmiths or only factory installed, but this is not a matter of law.

Do not grind away of obliterate serial numbers as this is in itself a federal and sometimes a state crime. The BATFE has rules for demilitarizing recievers and I won’t go into them but all the ones I have seen were cut into parts with a torch or grinding wheel so they could not be readily reassembled.

‘Cops get suspicious’, so you advise doing something that looks like covering evidence of a crime. Great suggestion.

Which is exactly what the police do with it. So- what are they concealing? :rolleyes:

Not all police departments destroy firearms that are turned in to them.

In some cases perhaps but police often sell and trade in servicable, legal firearms through local dealers. The change from .38/.357 revolvers to 9mm and more recently to .40S&W has resulted in a huge quantity of police trade ins in the US gun market. Police departments don’t get free guns, so they do anything they can to defray the costs.

On a related note, how does one dispose of live ammunition? I just bought a house, and the previous owners left a bunch of stuff in the garage, including a small plastic tub full of .38 cartridges and 12 guage shells (as well as a box of nail gun charges - the crimped .22 rimfire type).

I left a message with the local police, but they must not care about it because I never got a call back. I’d rather not have live ammo in the garage - even tho it’s on the top shelf, my kids are pretty inquisitive, and better safe than sorry.

Ask around at work. I’ll bet there is somebody there who would love some free plinking ammo.

Find a steel mill, ask for a tour, and when you get to the ladle, throw it in. Phffffttt! The world now has one less gun.

This is also effective if you find yourself with an extra Terminator.

Donate it to a local church, school or other non-profit and then write the value off your taxes. It’s a win-win!