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Want to Legally Own a Gun in the US? Here is What You Need to Know

— November 5, 2021

In most cases, states need proper permits for carrying firearms. However, some states have different rules.

The first step in order to obtain a gun license is filling the form that you can find on the official website of ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) that will require a copy of a picture form of ID.  A background check will be the next step that will be conducted by the dealer who will contact NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System). NICS stays open for about 17hrs a day every day excluding Christmas. It will then send the FBI for a proper background check. The information will later be verified with the information filled in the form. Make sure you fill the form honestly otherwise you might end up behind bars as it lying in the form is considered as a crime.

What about owning an airsoft gun?

In the US, airsoft guns are not considered firearms under Federal Law. Anyone can use airsoft guns regardless of their age. However, you cannot purchase an airsoft gun if you are under 18. In some states, airsoft guns come under the firearms category. Such states consider spring or compressed air guns as firearms. Due to this, normal firearms laws apply to an airsoft gun.  Make sure that you wear proper tactical airsoft gears before getting into airsoft.

What is the minimum age for owning a gun?

The citizen must be above 18 years old according to the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). GCA is responsible for the regulation of firearms at the federal level. Once you have passed the age of 18 then you can own shotguns or rifles and ammunition. Ammunitions except for shotgun and rifles needs the minimum age of 21 years old. The age restrictions can anytime be modified with State or local officials but they cannot lower the age limit.

Can anyone purchase the firearms?

Federal law also prohibits the sale of weapons to anyone convicted of possession or illegal use of controlled substances in the past year. That includes marijuana, which while legal in many US states, is still illegal under federal law. Fugitives, people believed to be a threat to society, and patients who have been involuntarily admitted to mental health facilities are not allowed to buy firearms. Persons with a previous conviction, including more than a year in prison or more than two years in prison, are also not allowed to buy firearms. Restrictions apply to individuals who are restricted by the courts to prevent harassment, persecution, or intimidation. People who have given up their citizenship; retired military officials. Illegal immigrants and people visiting the United States temporarily on a non-immigrant visa, such as tourists.

Does the federal or state government regulate firearms?

“Right of the people to keep and bear arms” is the second amendment under which anyone can own a gun. While state and local governments determine whether residents can carry firearms in public, federal laws regulate those who supply or may own firearms. The Office of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), part of the Justice Department, monitors and runs the GCA. The ATF also sets licensing standards for arms dealers.  The National Firearms Act of 1934 governs machine guns, shotguns, rifles, firearm mufflers, silencers, and rifles. Buying semi-automatic guns are legal in most states as automatic guns were manufactured before 1986.

Who may sell firearms?

As gun owners, sellers wishing to obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL) must be at least 21 years old. They must have a place of business and must notify a local law enforcement officer when contacting the federal agency that regulates firearms. Like gun owners, they should have similar criteria for their criminal record and mental health. The license fee is $ 200 that has to be paid for 3-years and if you want to renew it for more than 3 years then the cost is $ 90.

Image by Skitterphoto, via
Image by Skitterphoto, via

The online sale of firearms is also subject to these regulations. While the purchase price can be paid online, the gun must be first sent to the person registered with the FFL who will then review the required records before the gun is shipped to its owner.

Is a background check required to purchase a firearm?

Yes, it is mandatory. The amendment to the Arms Control Act of 1968 – known as the Brady Violence Prevention Act of 1993 – requires FFL holders to review the records. Prospective firearms buyers fill out a federal form called ATF 4473, which reviews previous convictions and other warning labels. FFL holders then use the information on the form to verify the record.

Governments can choose to have background checks carried out by the FBI Instant Criminal Records Review System (NICS) alone or in combination with information from the NICS and a government agency. Almost 30 states rely on NICS alone.

Do states require permits to carry firearms?

In most cases, states need proper permits for carrying firearms. However, some states have different rules. In some states, you are allowed to carry handguns without any need for permits. On the contrary, for rifles and shotguns, no permits are required by the state. You have to bring any type of ID or a firearms identification, in case you are carrying rifles and shotguns in Massachusetts and New Jersey.

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