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Buying Guns as Gifts – Legal Concerns and Best Practices

If you are considering an upcoming firearm purchase as a gift to someone you care about, there are some legal considerations and best practices to be aware of.

This page in the following article, and the infographic at the bottom, will discuss this topic to help you navigate this decision and give you some other things to think about.

Click here to skip down to the Infographic

Firearm Gifts Legal Considerations

While no Federal Law prohibits you from buying a gun as a gift for someone else you should beware of Straw Purchases, which are illegal. A straw purchase is defined as when someone makes a purchase on behalf of someone else who may not be available, able, or qualified to make the purchase themselves.

If you go into the gun store in the next few weeks and tell the sales rep behind the counter that you are buying a gun for your spouse you might give them the wrong impression and potentially put yourself in an ugly investigation.

The federal law prohibits you from making a straw purchase but buying a gun to gift to someone else is not the same as a straw purchase. Watch your language in the store to ensure that you don't say anything that might give the impression you are making a straw purchase.

pistol-505268_1280Laws regarding private transfers (gifts/sales).

There is a movement across the USA from various gun control groups to pass new laws that require that background checks be obtained not just for retail firearm purchases but for ALL transfers of ownership within the state including those between two private parties (Universal Background Checks).

Where this is the case, the recipient of the firearm (even in the case of a gift) must obtain a background check before taking possession of the firearm. Most states, however, still have no regulation around the transfer of a firearm between two private parties or they may have exceptions for family members or antique firearms.

This means that if you have made the purchase and want to give it to someone, you can move forward in doing so without any paperwork or additional effort (in a state where it's legal to do so).

Contact your local instructor or attorney to get clear on the laws in your area related to private transfers, licensing, and anything else you might need to know.

If you are gifting a firearm to someone outside the household (a friend for example) you should make sure to keep your own documentation that includes the make, model, and the serial number of the firearm along with details about the person to whom you gave the firearm.

When Shopping For Another Person's Gun

Buying a gun for another person is a huge challenge. Any given individual has unique needs such as the size of the weapon, appropriate caliber, method of carry, etc.

The obvious best practice when getting someone a gift is to get them involved in the shopping as much as possible. Invite a large number of friends to go shooting with you and the intended recipient. Have them bring all their weapons and cycle your intended recipient through them all to get some feedback about what they like and don't like about different weapons.

Take note regarding the shape of the frames that they tend to favor, the caliber of weapon they seem to be most comfortable with, and which firearm they tend to gravitate back to.

Ask your intended recipient questions that might give you insight about how they would use their next gun. Different questions would be appropriate depending on how novice or experienced that shooter may be and how many firearms they may already own. Here are a variety of examples.

“Of the firearms that you own today, what do you feel you are missing and why?”

“When would you see yourself actually using a firearm?”

“If you carried a weapon on your person for self-defense what method of concealed carry do you see as being most comfortable or workable for you?”

“Out of all of (Insert name of friend's) guns, which do you like the best and why?”

Just like any gift shopping, it's always a good idea to call up two or more friends of your intended recipient and ask for their feedback as well. They may have some anecdotal insights that you can't get directly from the person.

It's never a good idea to assume that a specific gun is always going to be a good fit for a certain demographic, like DAO (double action only) revolvers for women (this may or may not always be the case, check out that article for more info).

Gifting a Firearm to a Minor

Some states have strict rules concerning minors and gun ownership, while other states are more lenient on minors owning firearms. The most important thing here is to research the laws of the state in question before you gift a gun to a minor to make sure you're up to date and not breaking any laws.

The below map links to all of our independent state websites. Each individual state website talks a great deal about concealed carry gun law, but not all of them will discuss minors and firearm ownership since our website is about concealed carry, and minors generally cannot do that.

Gift Card

You'll have to weigh your options, but it may be better for you to buy a gift card for the recipient because there are so many variables like what the person likes, where the person is located, and if the person can even own a firearm.

Sometimes instead of going through the headache of figuring all of that out, buying a gift card and giving it to the person in a creative manner that hints or directly tells the person what you want him/her to spend the card on, is a better idea than buying a gun for that person that they won't like for one reason or another.

In addition to the bigger box stores, most of the smaller, local gun shops will have a way that you can buy a gift card for that person. If you know they are into guns and gear, this could be a good option.

Best Add-Ons

Now if you are going to be getting a gun for someone this season and you really want to go the extra mile, make sure that you understand that buying a gun for someone is like buying someone an Xbox.

Very thoughtful, but without controllers, not really going to get things working. Firearm accessories such as ammunition, (At least 100 rounds), a gun case, or a holster are very nice add-ons that are going to be much easier to purchase, as you can do it online without any worry of working around state laws (unless you live in one of the limited states that regulate online ammo sales).

So if you are looking to get a loved one a firearm or some accessories this Christmas season, know that you certainly can, but as with most things involving firearms, there will be some extra steps that you are going to have to follow.

But it may be worth it to be the cool relative when the presents are opened up, however.

Infographic About Buying Guns as Gifts

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