How to Buy a Gun

by Louise Lawson ; Updated October 25, 2017

Buy a Gun

Owning a gun is a privilege that many people decide to take advantage of at some point in their lives. Guns are purchased for a variety of reasons, ranging from home and personal protection to hunting and sporting events. The decision to purchase a gun is not one to be taken lightly, and should only be done after careful consideration and research into your local laws, your personal preference and reasons you wish to own a gun.

Know the requirements. In order to purchase a firearm, you must be a legal resident of the state in which you are trying to purchase the gun. Proof of residency usually consists of a state-issued driver’s license or ID. You must be at least 18 years old to purchase a shotgun or rifle and 21 years old, in many states, to purchase a handgun. You must have a background free of any serious offenses and must not currently be under investigation in order to be legally sold a gun.

Determining what type of gun you wish to purchase is often the most difficult step. If you plan on hunting, a rifle or shotgun is usually the preferred type of gun. Bird and certain small game hunters use shotguns, while big game hunters tend to prefer rifles. People wishing to buy a gun for home or personal protection most often purchase handguns. They are smaller, easier to fire and more concealable than larger shotguns or rifles. Sportsmen who participate in shooting sports often purchase either long guns or handguns, depending on the events they will be participating in. Many different manufacturers create guns of all different varieties, so your choice of brand is entirely up to you.

Locating a licensed firearms dealer is a vital step towards purchasing your gun. You can find licensed gun dealers in private shops, sporting goods stores, and at outdoor and gun shows. Dealers are required by law to be fully licensed and approved to sell guns, and you should always purchase from a licensed dealer. They should be willing to answer any questions that you might have, and you should be able to view their licenses and permits without any trouble.

Ask to see his stock once you have located a dealer you’d like to do business with. Most dealers have the majority of their stock out on display and you can see and inspect them. If you’re interested in seeing one more closely, let the dealer know and he will take it out of the case for you. You can handle the gun, give it a thorough examination, and dry fire it to assure that it works well and is in good condition. The dealer should willingly show you any guns you are interested in and should allow you to check them out. A knowledgeable and experienced dealer will also be able to answer any questions you might have about the specifics of the guns, and should have information on hand for you to look at regarding the various models he sells.

Fill out the paperwork. When you have reached a decision about which gun you want, the dealer will have you fill out paperwork for the purchase of the gun. This paperwork will include your full legal name, date of birth, social security number, and proof of address or residency. This paperwork will also be used to contact NICS, the National Instant Criminal Background Check system. The background check will make sure that you have no restrictions or convictions, which prevent you from owning a gun. The check should be completed within a few hours. As long as there are no restrictions or holds on the background check, your gun purchase should be smooth and fairly simple.

Wait. Some states have a holding period before a gun is allowed to be released. If your state is one of those, the dealer will inform you that your gun will be released to you on a certain date. If there are no waiting periods in your state, you can take your new gun home that same day.

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About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.