Whatever your reasons for wanting to own a gun, buying a gun legally in the US isn’t difficult. Here is what you need to do:
In the US, rifles or shotguns may be purchased by anyone over the age of 18, and handguns by anyone over the age of 21. Whilst no federal license is required when buying a gun, Federal regulations state the buyer must:
- be a current citizen of the United States or a permanent resident.
- not be under indictment for a crime punishable by a year in prison, or to have been previously convicted of a crime with a similar punishment.
- not have a current restraining filed by an intimate partner or child.
- not have been convicted of domestic violence.
- not be a fugitive, or a user of controlled substances.
- not be committed currently to a mental institution.
State and municipal laws are generally more specific and restricted than federal laws. While most states do not require licenses for gun ownership, a license is required if you are carrying a weapon displayed or concealed. This licence may take a few weeks to process after your gun purchase. Some states also have regulations for safety precautions, including gun locks, safes and training in gun safety before you become the legal owner.
Firearm retailers must have a Federal Firearm License (FFL). Every gun you buy must have a registered serial number and a bill of sale. When buying a gun legally you will need to provide photographic proof of your identity and complete Form 4473 to confirm you meet Federal law. If you are buying a gun online or interstate use an FFL seller rather.
If you are purchasing a handgun, background checks are performed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System which will approve, disapprove or delay your purchase. If you’re buying a shotgun or rifle, you won’t be required to wait for a background check to be performed before purchasing your gun.
Check your local and state laws about private gun sales prior to purchasing a gun from an individual. In every US state it is illegal for private sellers to sell to individuals who don’t match the federal requirements for gun ownership. If you purchase a gun privately, you need to procure a bill of sale from your local county clerk’s office and register the firearm locally.
You cannot legally buy any weapon capable of firing more than one shot per trigger pull, manufactured in the US after 1986 unless you are a professional gun dealer with a level 2 FFL. Any used machine gun manufactured in the US before 1986, can be bought legally, although in some states all machine guns are banned. Upon purchase, you will need to undergo a background check that can take months and must register it with the police and pay extra taxes.