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Practical Suggestions for Buying a New Gun

Practical Suggestions for Buying a New Gun

 

Buying a new gun is one of the best parts about getting into shooting sports and learning more about using firearms for home and personal defense. There’s just something about walking up to a gun case and feeling the weight of a pristine pistol in your hand that can’t be beat.

 

Whether you’re buying a gun for the first time or the fiftieth time, it requires some research on your part about what make and model is right for you, what you actually need to buy the gun, and what your state’s rules and regulations say about responsible gun ownership. 

 

We’ve put together this quick rundown of practical suggestions for buying a new gun for your reference along with facts about the age requirements to purchase firearms across the nation. 

Do Your Research

 

It’s easy for first-time gun buyers to get swept up by brand names and marketing schemes and end up with a gun that doesn’t work for them. So take your time and explore the options available to you, everything from caliber size to weight. The last thing you want is to spend a ton of money on a popular make and model that is too heavy or uncomfortable to shoot. 

 

It sounds simple, but our best suggestion is to start with what you want to use the gun for and go from there. Your local shop or gun range is a great place to see a variety of inventory once you know where to start.

Learn Safety Rules From a Qualified Professional

 

If you’re buying your first gun, it may not be the right time to rely on your neighbor or best bud for safety advice. They may be well-meaning and knowledgeable, but the wisest choice for gun safety is learning from a pro. A professional will cover everything you need to know to safely handle your new weapon as well as how to store it securely so it doesn’t fall into the right hands. Plus, a professional will not make light of the situation to be friendly. Their job is to make sure you understand the magnitude of using a lethal weapon and you walk away feeling confident in your ability to load, unload, discharge and care for your gun.

Understand the Process in Your State

 

Below, you’ll find the basic requirements to purchase a firearm as a first-time gun buyer in all fifty states. You should conduct your own research into the specific regulations on things like misdemeanor and felony charges, mental capacity and alcohol and drug use. 

 

Note: The federal government only allows licensed gun dealers to sell handguns to those over the age of 21. This means if your state permits the sale of a handgun to anyone 18 and up, you cannot legally purchase one from a licensed dealer if you’re between the ages of 18 and 21. 

 

Alabama

 

To purchase a handgun in Alabama, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide an Alabama driver’s license

 

To purchase a long gun in Alabama, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a driver’s license from any state

 

Alaska

 

To purchase a handgun in Alaska, you must:  

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide an Alaska-issued photo ID 
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Alaska, you must:  

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a state-issued photo ID (but it must be legal to purchase the gun in the state where your ID is issued)
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer

 

Arizona

 

To purchase a handgun in Arizona, you must:  

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide an Arizona driver’s license
  • Not be considered a “prohibited person”
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Arizona, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a driver’s license from any state
  • Not be considered a “prohibited person”

 

Arkansas

 

To purchase a handgun in Arkansas, you must:  

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide an Arkansas driver’s license
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Arkansa, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a driver’s license from any state

 

California

 

To purchase a handgun* in California, you must

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a California driver’s license
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer
  • Provide proof of California residency
  • Provide a Firearm Safety Certificate

 

To purchase a long gun in California, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a California driver’s license
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer
  • Provide a Firearm Safety Certificate

 

*In California, the types of handguns available to purchase by the public is dictated by the California Department of Justice.

 

Colorado

 

To purchase a handgun in Colorado, you must:  

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a Colorado driver’s license
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Colorado, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a Colorado driver’s license
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer

 

Connecticut

 

To purchase a handgun in Connecticut, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a Connecticut driver’s license
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer
  • Provide a certificate of eligibility to buy a pistol or revolver

 

To purchase a long gun in Connecticut, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a Connecticut driver’s license
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer
  • Provide a certificate of eligibility to buy a long gun

 

Delaware

 

To purchase a handgun in Delaware, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a Delaware driver’s license
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Delaware, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a driver’s license from any state
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer

 

Florida

 

To purchase a handgun in Florida, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a Florida driver’s license
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer
  • Wait 3 business days before taking ownership of the gun

 

To purchase a long gun in Florida, you must:

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a Florida driver’s license
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer
  • Wait 3 business days before taking ownership of the gun

Georgia

 

To purchase a handgun in Georgia, you must:  

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a Georgia driver’s license
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer
  • Not have any felony convictions

 

There is no age minimum to purchase a long gun in the state of Georgia, but you will need to submit to a background check if purchasing from a licensed firearms dealer. 

 

Hawaii

 

To purchase a handgun in Hawaii you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a driver’s license
  • Hold a permit to acquire

 

To purchase a long gun in Hawaii, you must:

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a driver’s license
  • Hold a permit to acquire

 

Idaho

 

To purchase a handgun in Idaho, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide an Idaho ID
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Florida, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide state-issued identification
  • Submit to a background check if buying from a licensed dealer

 

Illinois

 

To purchase a handgun in Illinois, you must:  

  • Obtain a Firearms Owners Identification Card
  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Illinois, you must:

  • Obtain a Firearms Owners Identification Card
  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Indiana

 

To purchase a handgun in Indiana, you must:  

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to an instant background check 

 

To purchase a long gun in Indiana, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide identification issued by any state
  • Submit to an instant background check 

 

Iowa

 

To purchase a handgun in Iowa, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Obtain a permit to purchase handguns whether you plan to buy from a dealer or private party

 

To purchase a long gun in Iowa, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid photo ID
  • Submit to a background check 

 

Kansas

 

To purchase a handgun in Kansas, you must:  

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid photo ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Kansas, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid photo ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Kentucky

 

To purchase a handgun in Kentucky, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a valid state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Kentucky, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid photo ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Louisiana

 

To purchase a handgun in Louisiana, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a valid state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Louisiana, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid photo ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Maine

 

To purchase a handgun in Maine, you must:  

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer
  • Provide written proof you received a basic firearms safety guide

 

To purchase a long gun in Maine, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid photo ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Maryland

 

To purchase a handgun in Maryland, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a valid state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer
  • Obtain your handgun qualification license
  • Complete firearms safety training

 

To purchase a long gun in Maryland, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Massachusetts

 

To purchase a handgun in Massachusetts, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a valid state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer
  • Obtain a License to Carry a firearm 

 

To purchase a long gun in Massachusetts, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Obtain a License to Carry card, Firearms Identification Card or Resident Alien Permit
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Michigan

 

To purchase a handgun in Michigan from a gun dealer, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a valid state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer
  • Complete a pistol sales record

To purchase a handgun in Michigan by private sale, you must:  

  • Be 18 or older
  • Obtain a License to Purchase

 

To purchase a long gun in Michigan, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Minnesota

 

To purchase a handgun in Minnesota, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a valid state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer
  • Obstain a handgun transferee permit

 

To purchase a “non-assault weapon” long gun in Minnesota, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Mississippi

 

To purchase a handgun in Mississippi, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a valid state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Mississippi, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Missouri

 

To purchase a handgun in Missouri, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a valid state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Missouri, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Montana

 

To purchase a handgun in Montana, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a valid state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Montana, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Nebraska

 

To purchase a handgun in Nebraska, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Be a resident of Nebraska
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer
  • Obtain a handgun certificate

 

To purchase a long gun in Nebraska, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Nevada

 

To purchase a handgun in Nevada from a dealer, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a valid state ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a handgun in Nevada by private sale, you must:  

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid state ID

 

To purchase a long gun in Nevada, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid state ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

New Hampshire

 

To purchase a handgun in New Hampshire, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide valid state identification
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in New Hampshire, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

New Jersey

 

To purchase a handgun in New Jersey, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide valid state identification
  • Obtain a Pistol Purchase Permit
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in New Jersey, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Obtain a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

New Mexico

 

To purchase a handgun in New Mexico, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide valid state identification
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in New Mexico, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

New York

 

To purchase a handgun in New York, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Obtain a license to carry or own a handgun
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in New York, you must:

  • Be 18 or older (except in New York City where the age is 21)
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

North Carolina

 

To purchase a handgun in North Carolina, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Obtain a Pistol Purchase Permit or a NC Concealed Carry Permit
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in North Carolina, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

North Dakota

 

To purchase a handgun in North Dakota, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in North Dakota, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Ohio 

 

To purchase a handgun in Ohio, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Ohio, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Oklahoma

 

To purchase a handgun in Oklahoma, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Oklahoma, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Oregon

 

To purchase a handgun in Oregon, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Oregon, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Pennsylvania

 

To purchase a handgun in Pennsylvania, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Pennsylvania, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Rhode Island

 

To purchase a handgun in Rhode Island, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Complete a purchase of pistol/revolver application form

 

To purchase a long gun in Rhode Island, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Complete a shotgun/rifle application form

 

South Carolina

 

To purchase a handgun in South Carolina, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in South Carolina, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

South Dakota

 

To purchase a handgun in South Dakota, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in South Dakota, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Tennessee

 

To purchase a handgun in Tennessee, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Tennessee, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Texas

 

To purchase a handgun in Texas, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Texas, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Utah

 

To purchase a handgun in Utah, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Utah, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Vermont

 

To purchase a handgun in Vermont, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Vermont, you must:

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Virginia

 

To purchase a handgun in Virginia, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Virginia, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Washington

 

To purchase a handgun in Washington, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Washington, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Washington, D.C.

 

To purchase a handgun in Washington, D.C., you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer
  • Complete a firearm registration form

 

To purchase a long gun in Washington, D.C., you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer
  • Complete a firearm registration form

 

West Virginia

 

To purchase a handgun in West Virginia, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in West Virginia, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Wisconsin

 

To purchase a handgun in Wisconsin, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Wisconsin, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Wyoming

 

To purchase a handgun in Wyoming, you must:  

  • Be 21 or older
  • Provide a state-issued ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

To purchase a long gun in Wyoming., you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Provide a valid ID
  • Submit to a background check by a licensed dealer

 

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only. We always recommend conducting thorough research into the gun laws and regulations in your state for new gun owners and seasoned pros alike.

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