United States Firearm Purchase Requirements

The Second Amendment grants the right to bear arms, allowing for the legal possession of firearms in accordance with federal guidelines as well as laws that may apply in each individual state. As for the ability to purchase a gun, there are some general federal requirements that apply as well as some state-specific ones. Below, the firearms safety and training experts from Gun Safety Training Pros, your premier choice when you’re ready to take a handgun safety course online, take a closer look at what you’ll need to know if you have plans to purchase a firearm in the U.S.

You Must Meet Age Requirements

Regulations for firearms purchases at the federal level are largely based on the Gun Control Act of 1968. With age requirements, you must be at least 18 years of age to legally purchase long guns, such as rifles and shotguns, in the U.S. The legal age for purchasing handguns is 21. Individual states are permitted to have higher age restrictions for gun purchases. However, state age limitations cannot be lower than the minimum federal age.

You Have to Undergo a Background Check

A 1993 amendment to the Gun Control Act requires any firearms seller with a federal firearms license (FFL) to conduct background checks. To have a background check done, you’ll need to fill out an ATF Form 4473m, which allows the gun seller to run a check. It’s done to look for prior convictions and other potential red flags.

States have the option to determine how background checks are conducted. Most states use the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is based on FBI data. Some states combine data from the FBI system and information obtained from various state agencies to run background checks.

Typically, it takes about 10 minutes or so to complete a background check when it’s done by phone or online. There are three possible responses to a background check:

• Approve
• Deny
• Delay*

*Delay usually means additional information or clarification is needed based on what was found during the initial check.

Some People Are Legally Barred from Owning/Using Firearms

In addition to meeting age requirements and undergoing a background check, you’ll need to meet certain personal requirements to purchase a gun in the United States. In other words, some individuals can be prohibited from legally being able to buy firearms. For instance, people with certain mental health issues and those who are fugitives or convicted felons are prohibited under federal law from being able to buy, own, or use firearms.

Firearm purchase restrictions may also apply to individuals who are:

  • Felons
  • People who have been dishonorably discharged
  • People who renounced citizenship
  • Fugitives from justice
  • Addicts
  • Mental defectives
  • Illegal aliens
  • Non-exempt, non-immigrant aliens
  • People under certain protective orders
  • Domestic abusers

Please refer to Chapter 18 or the U.S. Code for further details and definitions. 

States May Have Additional Purchase Requirements

Any other requirements beyond the federal requirements for gun purchases already discussed are determined by the states. For example, a dozen states require a permit for the purchase of a handgun. However, just three states currently require permits when purchasing long guns. 

If you’re not sure about the applicable gun laws in your jurisdiction, don’t hesitate to call on the firearms education experts at Gun Safety Training Pros. We offer the highest-quality weapons training online, and we can answer all your questions about carrying your gun legally. If you’re looking for a premier firearms safety course, reach out to us today at info@GunSafetyTrainingPro.com.

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