The landscape of person to person gun sales has changed dramatically over the past two decades. As government controls and industry scrutiny have increased, it has become easier and easier for buyer and seller to connect via the Internet to establish that Person A (seller) has something that Person B (buyer) wants. The problem, however, is that we sometimes forget that Person B also has something that Person A wants: Money.
The main problem with the status quo in the online gun sale is that the buyer, the person with liquid cash that they are willing to give up for an object, the gun, is completely at the mercy of the good intentions of the seller. Of course, most people are well intentioned and honest, so the transactions usually take place without issue. But, there are have been many cases, easily found on the interwebs, of buyers not being satisfied with either the product or the process of the online firearms purchase.
In almost every case, the seller will demand that money be sent and funds verified prior to sending out the firearm for inspection. While many transactions stipulate a “return policy”, just as many will be done on an “all sales final” basis. Furthermore, human nature is such that once the buyer has the gun and the seller has the money, there is a certain amount of finality that sets in. I know several people who have griped about an extra scratch or two on a used gun, but chosen to keep the gun anyway. While not the most sinister of crimes, I do believe that sellers count on a certain amount of inertia and the buyer’s ability to rationalize away some dissatisfaction when they describe what they are selling.
Concerns about Internet Fraud and good faith representations are commonly addressed by many third party transaction handlers on the Internet. These entities create obligations for the seller to meet, lest they be blacklisted and lose their opportunity to utilize these convenient services. There are several well known companies who provide a means for people to advertise, find, pay for and receive funds from selling goods online… but, there is a problem for us: Most of them are overtly anti-gun. Not only does this present a logistical problem, it also creates a bit of a moral quandary. Even if you can skirt the user rules and use these portals to sell guns or these transfer methods to move funds, you have to look at yourself in the mirror the next day and know that you just supported a company that doesn’t support your right to own the item that you just bought or sold. While we all make compromises in the modern world, with our overseas built electronics and our willingness to give up being armed in exchange for a 4hr trip from one coast to the other, there are some times that we should not need to compromise our principles so quickly; especially when that compromise is so directly related to the very principle we are bending!
The latest evolution in the world of online gun sales is set to fix both the issue of the underempowered buyer and the inconvenient transaction… the evolution is PistolPay. PistolPay is a relatively new company that provides a much needed service to our community. By using PistolPay, the buyer regains some control over the transaction, by knowing their level of satisfaction with an item prior to the funds actually getting to the seller. The seller also gains the ability to receive verified, guaranteed funds conveniently without having to bend any rules or their own integrity. Both important services are provided for a low fee, of course. That fee comes out to less than 3% of the amount being spent. Not a bad price to pay for peace of mind, fairness and pride. Pride? Yep, I’d be a lot prouder of conducting a transaction through a company that is 100% Pro-Second Amendment, owned & operated by gun owners and established specifically to empower and aid gun owners looking to exchange one thing of value, the gun, for another: Money.
Using PistolPay is simple. You sign up for a user account in less than 5 minutes and, when you’re ready to use it, you set up a transaction with someone selling a gun. You send the funds, which PistolPay verifies them, guarantees them as “available” and holds until you receive the item. You choose your delivery FFL, preferably from one of the preferred FFLs that has partnered with PistolPay (and guarantees a low transfer fee) and the comfort of dealing with a gun shop that honors your online purchasing opportunity and welcomes you as a customer. You have two days to inspect it and either give PistolPay the go-ahead to release the funds or notify them that you are returning the item. The buyer doesn’t get strung out forever, if you get distracted and forget to notify PistolPay, they assume you are satisfied and release the funds after two days automatically.
I became aware of PistolPay a few months ago when I was contacted by the concept’s originator, Ira Goodstadt. Ira reached out to me and asked if I would give him some time to explain his “revolutionary” concept. I got on the phone with Ira and was very impressed with the simplicity of what he was doing. He asked me if I was interested in helping him spread the word and PistolPay and educating the gun community about why it was important. I said, “maybe”. The fact is that I hear about several allegedly revolutionary things every month. I also have about 20 projects in play at any given time. Most important to my “maybe” was the fact that Ira was talking about financial transactions for thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of people every year. That kind of undertaking requires significant business acumen, must follow strict guidelines and would be filled with pitfalls for a small start up company. Luckily, PistolPay isn’t exactly a typical small start up company. Ira invited me to come visit his corporate office in Southern Florida back in September and, as luck would have it, I was in Central Florida working at that time with Gander Mountain Academy, so I made the trip.
What I found was that Ira wasn’t just an entrepreneur working out of a home office with a great idea, he was part of a team backed by one of the most successful credit card transaction processors in the industry: Merchant Services, LTD. MSL did just shy of $12 billion dollars in transactions last year. They were ranked in the top 20 fastest growing companies in the US by Inc. Magazine. Their leadership had been in the industry for over a decade and they were incredibly serious about every aspect of the financial interaction, data security, customer satisfactionand building PistolPay properly to facilitate the establishment of PistolPay as the go to choice for online gun sales. As a Credit Card Processing company, MSL is incredibly meticulous about their business and everyone I met there was a top notch professional. I spent a full day going from office to office meeting with their top sales people, their CFO, their operations director and others. I learned more about the credit card business than I’ll ever need to know and enough about MSL and the leadership of PistolPay to know that my skeptical “maybe” was going to evolve into an educated “absolutely!”
To date, PistolPay has about 1500 transactions under their belt and an incredibly high satisfaction rate. As part of my due diligence, I contacted a couple of people I knew who had used PistolPay, including gunsmith Lou Biondo of Business End Customs, and gotten great feedback. I expect that in the aftermath of the recent election and with the holiday buying season upon us, the number of transactions and the positive feedback will increase dramatically over the next few months. In addition to the financial service provided by PistolPay, there are some other great things coming in the near future which I am going to be excited to be a part of bringing to our community.
PistolPay advertises themselves as a platform for Safe, Secure, Confident transactions – I could not think of a better way of saying it. The platform encourages only completely honest players to participate, making it a new sort of market builder. You can do transactions with credit card or other means, with your personal information protected at all times.
The next time you are part of an online firearms sale, I highly encourage you to give PistolPay a try… in fact, you might want to head over there now and set up your account so that you are ready when you see that third generation Glock or slightly used M4 listed for sale. In the current market, commodities like those usually don’t last long before the “SOLD!” gets posted.