Owning a weapon in the United States can allow you to participate in hunting and other seasonal pastimes. To learn how to buy a gun, you should first learn the laws that apply on in your local area. There are several steps that apply no matter where you live when learning how to buy a gun, though.
This guide will teach you the standard process of how to buy a gun. There may be some unique circumstances that don’t apply, such as when you want to purchase a weapon from a foreign seller or import a collector’s item.
The laws for purchasing a handgun, a rifle or shotgun, or antique weapons all differ. These laws can vary based on states, local laws, or other restrictions with hundreds of variations. The main differences will be addressed below, but you are always encouraged to look up local restrictions before engaging in the gun purchasing process.
The Process Of Buying A Gun
When purchasing a weapon, you will always be scrutinized about your motive for the purchase. You will also be asked to provide proper documentation and will have to go through a waiting period before the decision to sell you the weapon is approved.
These steps exist to improve the safety of everyone involved in the process. It is undeniable that it can be frustrating though if you did not know what would be asked of you beforehand. Having all of the requirements prepared beforehand can minimize the waiting period, and make buying a gun less stressful for you and the weapon’s seller.
Is There A Need To Prepare To Buy A Gun Beforehand?
Much of the logistics of buying a gun will fall on the licensed gun seller. You still need to provide documentation to prove it is legal for them to sell a gun to you, though.
If you are buying a gun in the United States through a legal vendor, you are required to provide a photo ID and fill out form 4473. This form requests confirmation from the government that you are a citizen of the United States and are eligible for purchasing a weapon.
Some states also require a waiting period before they will release your newly purchased firearm to you. This is separate from the background checks mentioned above, but if you live in a state that requires a waiting period, you may want to account for this time when making your purchase.
If you want to purchase an automatic weapon, assault rifle, or another weapon then you must be a level two Federal Firearm License holder. Normal ownership and sale of automatic weapons have been banned in the United States for more than thirty years, and the weapon must have been registered before the ban.
Purchase of an antique weapon of this type may qualify you for further background checks. You are also required to pay additional taxes, and it must be registered under certain property laws, as they are not intended for hunting or ordinary weapon use.
What You Need To Know About Purchasing Your First Weapon
There are two primary vendors for purchasing a gun. The first is to purchase a weapon from someone who holds a Federal Firearm License (FFL). You should be asked to fill out form 4473 and go through a standard purchasing process. The second is to buy a gun from a gun show as an antique piece or show weapon, which has fewer regulations.
Some states also allow the purchasing of a private firearm from a private vendor without a background check. Even if you purchase a gun from a private vendor or gun show, it is still illegal to own a firearm if you would be disqualified from owning a gun when subjected to a background check by a normal FFL holder.
Prepare For The Paperwork Beforehand
Do not forget to receive your bill of sale and check the weapon for prominently displayed serial numbers. If a weapon isn’t registered when you purchase it, or you lose or forget to acquire a bill of sale, you will be held accountable after the initial purchase.
Most Federal Firearm License holders will have copies of the 4473 on them to reduce all required paperwork. This information must be submitted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE). If a firearm store closes, all of these forms become the legal property of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
Be Patient As The Process’ Length Can Vary
All background checks are performed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). A check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System is required if you are purchasing any model of handgun.
A background check will take place before a waiting period. A background check should come back as Approved, Disapproved, or Delayed. If a request is delayed, further investigation is being taken into your background.
Waiting periods do not take effect until a background check finishes. Not every purchase has a required waiting period. A waiting period typically lasts between a couple of days to a week. The time of a waiting period can vary with every weapon, so it is the step that demands the most patience during your first purchase.
Gun Ownership Licenses Are Not Concealed Carry Licenses
There are no federal laws requiring you to have a license to own a gun in the United States. Fewer than half of the states require you to have a license before owning a weapon. A vendor is required to be a license holder before selling a weapon in most circumstances.
The majority of states require a permit to carry a concealed weapon, or to prominently display a weapon to the public. You should check your local laws before purchasing a weapon.
Some Areas May Want Proof Of Proper Gun Safety Precautions
The waiting period when purchasing a weapon may be used to ensure you have a gun safe. An alternative requirement may be time spent in a gun handling safety course. These requirements are tied to local and state laws, so you should check local requirements before purchasing a weapon.
Restrictions may apply if you are buying a specific firearm. Proper handgun handling courses are sometimes required, while rifles or different firearms may not have similar regulations in the same area.
What Can Restrict Your Right To Purchase a Weapon?
You may be denied the right to buy a weapon due to several reasons. These reasons primarily exist to ensure you are a lawful gun owner, and that a weapon is used in a manner for which it was intended.
Different Purchases Have Different Minimum Ages
In the United States, rifles and shotguns can be bought by any legal resident over the age of eighteen. These weapons have a lower required age range because they are used in hunting and similar jobs young adults may have access to.
The legal age for purchasing a handgun is twenty-one. This is partially because handguns are more commonly used for self-defense or employment in security positions. They are also easier to carry, conceal, and fire in many cases. These are just a couple of the causes for the increased age restriction.
Your Mental Health Must Not Be Compromised In An Apparent Manner
There are many restrictions that can disqualify you from purchasing a weapon. If you are currently committed to a mental institution or receive frequent treatment at a similar facility, you may have your purchase denied.
If you appear to be using controlled substances, a licensed seller may reserve the right to refuse the sale. In some locations, if there is documentation that you previously used controlled substances, or have a history of substance abuse, you may still be ineligible for a weapon.
Your Intent When Buying A Weapon May Be Scrutinized
You may be denied the right to buy a gun if you have a restraining order against you from an intimate partner or child. You will be refused the right to buy a gun if there is reasonable evidence that you are in a situation in which you hold intense animosity towards a loved one. This is to minimize the chance that you will use a weapon wrongfully.
You can not purchase a weapon if you are a fugitive. If you attempt to purchase a weapon while acting like a fugitive, even if you are denied the purchase, you may still be charged for attempting a wrongful purchase later.
Criminal Backgrounds Or Activity Make You Ineligible To Buy A Gun
You must be a current citizen of the United States or a green card holder to buy a gun. If your status as a citizen is revoked for any reason, you will be denied the right to buy a gun.
To buy a gun, you must not have been convicted of domestic violence. Many crimes committed in a residential area may apply as well. You must not be under indictment for a crime punishable by more than one year of prison time. You cannot have been previously convicted of a crime or crimes that resulted in more than one year in prison sentences, either.
If you are currently engaged in a legal dispute or have a history of public confrontations, then a waiting period may be applied when you purchase a weapon. As a general rule, you should remove yourself from as many domestic, financial, or legal disputes as possible before purchasing a weapon to minimize the chance your purchase will be delayed.
Accounting For Unusual Circumstances Of Ownership
If you buy a weapon through a private vendor or become the owner of a weapon without proper documentation of the purchase, you are required to provide documentation for the weapon yourself. You should immediately go to your local clerk’s office to acquire a bill of sale.
You may also wish to register the weapon locally when you acquire a bill of sale. Registering a weapon locally is required in some areas, but this can vary based on your location.
If you purchase a gun online, especially from a different state, you are required to include a Federal Firearm License (FFL) holder in the transaction. The holder is responsible for the supervision of the transaction to ensure that you observe local and federal laws throughout the process.
Private sales are one of the most common subjects of local gun laws. You should review the legality of a private sale before making any gun purchases through private sales instead of a traditional Federal Firearm License holder.
Your Purchase May Be Scrutinized After It Has Finished
Many laws allow for a follow-up review of your adherence to gun safety laws. It is important to learn proper gun safety before you purchase your first weapon.
It Is Your Responsibility To Know How To Store A Weapon Before You Purchase It
Weapons should be stored in an unloaded state regardless of their intended use. An unloaded weapon will have no clip inserted and no rounds in the chamber. If there is a round in the chamber after use, you should empty the chamber before storing the weapon again.
You should be provided a lockable case to store your gun upon purchase. The weapon should have a trigger lock to protect the trigger when you store the weapon, which prevents damage to the weapon and lessens the potential for accidents.
You May Still Be Criminally Accountable Until Your Documentation Is In Order
If you have purchased a weapon and filed the information to receive all necessary permits, you may believe the process is over. This is an incorrect assumption though that can cause you trouble if you encounter an officer or carry your weapon in public.
You should not carry your gun in public until you have received the necessary permits to do so. Wait until the documentation has been delivered to you, and then keep it in a location on you near or with your weapon. You are not legally allowed to carry, conceal, or otherwise handle the weapon until these papers are returned to you.
Conclusion: Reviewing Critical Criteria
There are many unexpected pitfalls if you attempt to purchase a weapon without knowing how to buy a gun. You must have a photographic ID, and provide written consent and proof of purchase.
What You Are Responsible For
Your preparations won’t end at the weapon’s purchase. You must keep the proof of sale and other documentation for as long as you own the weapon. While you must begin preparations before you ever approach a licensed gun vendor, you must continue to observe those preparations long after your purchase has finished.
Different firearm types have different demands. You will be subjected to a background check if you purchase a handgun. Your region may lead to additional background checks and restrictions. Remember, a background check is not a waiting period and a waiting period won’t begin until the background check has finished.
It is important to know if you are ineligible for a weapon before attempting to purchase a gun. If you are not, you may be accused of willfully ignoring the law. It is possible to receive a fine or face legal consequences if you persist in attempts to purchase a weapon despite being denied.
Preparations That Fall To The Vendor
The weapon’s previous owner is required to provide you with a proof of sale bill. It also falls to the seller to provide a form 4473 for you to fill out. If this form is legally required but is not submitted, both the seller and purchaser may be subjected to legal action.
The vendor may also be held accountable for assessing your mental wellness during a sale, or for conducting follow up assessments. These are determined largely by local laws and stipulations. You should remember that they are reviewed with a critical eye as well, so if they deny you a weapon for any reason, it shouldn't be held against a personal vendor.
You can not purchase a weapon through gun shows or a private seller if the weapon would not be legal when purchased through a normal FFL holder. This includes buying a weapon without a bill of sale or attempting to purchase an assault rifle or automatic weapon through any means.
Featured Image Source: Pixabay