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Firearms: The Merchant’s Dilemma

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” – United States Constitution, Second Amendment

Let’s talk about guns.

It’s a touchy subject. When the topic of guns comes up in conversation, the first thing that comes to mind for many people is the relationship between the use of illegal guns and violent crime. They’re not wrong: According to a 2019 survey by the U.S. Bureau of Justice, 43% of prisoners who used a gun while committing a crime bought it on the black market.

Despite the criminal aspect, the sale of firearms isn’t slowing down. In fact, the gun and ammunition industries throughout North America are currently experiencing a high demand for firearms. Consider the following:

  • Americans bought approximately 19.9 million firearms in 2021, the industry’s second-busiest year on record (Forbes)
  • 30% of U.S. adults personally own a gun, and 66% of gun owners own more than one gun (Pew Research Center 2021 survey)
  • An estimated 23 million firearms were sold in the U.S. in 2020 (
  • 36% of U.S. adults aged 65 or older own a gun (Statista)
  • The online gun and ammunition market is worth $2.2 billion (IBISWorld industry research)

If you’re a merchant looking to increase your bottom line, that last statistic should make you sit up and take notice because the market is huge— especially when you consider the hunting and competitive shooting sports industries.

The gun and ammunition industries in the U.S. and Canada are currently experiencing a high demand for firearms, driven by a variety of factors including an interest in hunting and competitive sports. Hunting rifles make up a significant portion of total sales volume in the U.S., with an estimated 20% of total sales being for this purpose. In Canada, hunting rifles also make up approximately 25% of total fun sales. In addition to hunting, competitive shooting sports also drive a significant portion of firearm sales in both the U.S. and Canada.

The revenue potential for selling guns and ammunition is high, but be advised that firearms merchants face a unique set of challenges.

Firearms Sales = High Risk

Merchants that sell guns and ammunition are considered high-risk businesses for a number of reasons. For example, many firearms purchases are made with credit cards, so one of the main reasons why these businesses are considered high-risk is due to the potential for chargebacks due to fraud.

To operate as a gun and ammunition merchant in the U.S., there are a number of legal and regulatory requirements that must be met. These include obtaining a Federal Firearms License (FFL) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and complying with state and local laws and regulations. In addition, merchants must comply with strict record-keeping requirements and may be subject to inspections by the ATF.

Mitigate Risk With the Right Partner

In order to lower risk, gun and ammunition merchants should establish best practices such as performing thorough background checks on employees and customers, enforcing strict security measures, and complying with all applicable laws and regulations. In addition, it’s important to be vigilant about monitoring for suspicious activity and implementing measures to prevent fraud, such as using fraud detection software.

Being in a high-risk business such as firearms sales can be quite lucrative, but it requires a great deal of management. Navigating the maze of laws, rules, and regulations can be daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. Cartis Payments has the right tools and experience to guide you. By leveraging Elavon’s sophisticated credit card processing payment software, Cartis Payments will save you time and effort, ensure that your high-risk business meets all legal requirements, and help to increase your profits.

If you decide that selling firearms sales is right for your business, contact Cartis Payments to find out how you can manage your high-risk business with confidence.