Understanding Firearm Purchase Laws in the U.S.

gun owners smiling
  • Gun ownership laws in the US vary from state to state and include background checks, age limits, waiting periods, and record-keeping.
  • All gun dealers must keep detailed records and are prohibited from selling guns across state lines to individuals without proper licensing.
  • When choosing a gun store, consider insurance, quality of service and prices, and licensing.
  • Responsible ownership means knowing local gun laws and following regulations to avoid legal repercussions.

Owning a firearm is a significant responsibility. And it comes with regulations that vary across different parts of the world. The U.S. maintains strict controls regarding gun ownership, and it is essential to follow the rules set by local and federal governments. If you are considering purchasing a firearm, knowing the laws to ensure compliance and protect yourself from legal repercussions is necessary.

Gun Laws in the U.S.

The U.S. has one of the highest ownership of guns in the world, with over 40% of Americans owning firearms in the country. The laws about gun ownership vary from state to state. Most states require a permit or license to carry a firearm outside the home. You may even need a special license to carry concealed weapons in some states. Here are some common laws you need to know before you purchase a gun in the country.

Background Checks

Before purchasing a firearm, you will have to undergo a background check. This check aims to ensure that you are legally eligible to own one. The check involves screening your criminal records and examining your mental health status. While some states require firearms dealers to do the background checks, private sales are permitted for some types of firearms in others. If you fail this background check, you cannot legally purchase a firearm.

Age Limits

The United States has age limits on who can own and who can purchase firearms. To purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer, you must be at least 18 to buy introductory firearms like a hunting rifle. The age limit does not apply to private transfers between family members, but the person selling the firearm must ensure the buyer is of legal ownership age.

Waiting Periods

Some states mandate waiting periods to allow time for a thorough background check. While some states don’t have waiting periods, others require that applicants wait a few days before receiving their firearms. Several states have to wait periods for handguns only rather than for all guns. It is essential to research your state’s legislation regarding waiting periods.

Gun storage in safe

Firearm Transfers

A person must hold a Federal-Firearm License to transfer a firearm interstate across the U.S. Most firearm purchases are through licensed dealers, who only transfer firearms purchased in the same state. However, they are prohibited from selling guns across state lines to individuals, though there are exceptions to this rule that depend on the buyer’s home state licensing rules.


All gun dealers must keep detailed records and can only sell firearms to people who lawfully meet the eligibility criteria. Depending on state law, forms must be kept for at least 20 years or longer. This record-keeping process benefits both the dealer and the buyer in case any legal dispute happens in the future.

Tips to Choose the Right Gun Store For Your First Buy

Certain laws may also cover commercial gun stores. Here are a few tips when choosing the right gun store for your first purchase:


A gun store needs to have insurance. Ensure the store you’re buying from has commercial general liability insurance for gun shops. This covers legal responsibility in case of any injury or property damage caused by the firearm. It can help determine whether a store is legitimate since some states require these stores to have insurance coverage.

Gun on table

Quality of Service and Prices

When buying a firearm, you want to ensure that the store has quality customer service and competitive prices. Compare different stores’ prices to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible. Check reviews to see how customers rate their experiences with the store and verify if the store has a good reputation in the gun industry.


Ensuring the store is properly licensed for selling guns is also essential. A legitimate gun store should have all the state and federal licenses and permits required for selling firearms. You can check with your local government to find out what kind of license is needed or ask the store manager or clerk.

These are some of the most important considerations to keep in mind when purchasing a firearm. Knowing your local gun laws and verifying that your chosen store complies with these regulations will help ensure you have a positive experience and stay on the right side of the law. Keep these tips in mind and enjoy responsibly owning your firearm.

About the Author

Scroll to Top