How Old Do You Have to be to Buy a Handgun?

How Old Do You Have to be to Buy a Handgun?

The legal basis for gun possession is based on the Second Amendment of the Constitution. However, how do they actually regulate firearms?

Gun regulation is one of the most debatable topics when it comes to politics. For every mass shooting incident, the conflict between both sides of gun control dramatically increases.

Based on the 2011 Small Arms Survey, for every 100 people, an average of 88% are gun owners. Apart from that, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence reported at least 114,994 people who get shot every year in the US. This incident includes accidents, assaults, suicide, suicide attempts, and murders. With these staggering statistics, gun owners need to ensure that their firearms are stored in a small gun safe while advocates of tighter gun regulations do everything to fight for the safety of this country.

Storing guns is up to the owner and the type of guns that they have. Those sticking to conventions like to have their rifles and long guns in the open on racks or cabinets. There are those who make use of a handgun vault. Another option is the use of a small gun safe which is portable and can be brought along in the car. Owning a biometric pistol safe also allows quick access to the handgun in case it is needed.

On the other side, opponents of gun regulation are also scared for the safety of the country. However, their concern is more on the fact that the citizens couldn’t protect themselves if stricter gun regulations will be followed.

Despite this dilemma, there are still ways on how you can access weapons in the US.


California has the most comprehensive set of new gun laws. This is because of the November 2018 mass shooting incident in Thousand Oaks country-western bar. The gunman killed a total of 12 people and shot himself afterward. This is considered as the second-deadliest mass shooting incident, next to the Parkland shooting in Florida which killed 17 people.


The Firearms Restraining Order Act restricts people who are capable of harming themselves and the people around them to acquire a gun. If someone exhibits suicidal or threatening behavior, may it be in person or social media, family members, relatives, or police can get an emergency order of protection. The authorities will confiscate the guns from the person for two weeks up to six months.


The firearm ban for stalkers and domestic abusers has been updated in this state. In the past law, only abusers that are married to their victim are restricted from owning or purchasing a firearm. The updated law restricts abusers, stalkers, and people from purchasing and buying firearm even if they aren’t married to their victims.

Washington State

The age range for buying semi-automatic rifles was increased to 18-21 years old. The state also released a brand new set of requirements for safe gun storage and updated background check procedure for gun purchases. The law enforcement will press minimal charges for those who will utilize their weapon for violence and threats. In addition to this, parents should keep their weapons in the best handgun safe because authorities also press charges for those who allowed unauthorized access.

Age Requirements

According to the Gun Control Act of 1968, citizens and legal residents need to be at least 18 years old to buy rifles, shotguns, and ammunition. The remaining types of weapons can be sold specifically to 21 years old or older. The minimum age requirement can be higher depending on the local or state officials but it can’t be lowered.

Age Limits in the Different States

Federal law ban licensed distributors from selling long guns to customers under 18 years old. However, there is no federal regulation that restrains an unlicensed distributor from supplying long guns to minors. The federal law also imposes a restraining order for a licensed distributor of handguns from selling it to customers under 21. However, they don’t have any regulation that bans an unlicensed distributor from selling handguns to minor customers. Due to this, many states have required a minimum age for all gun purchases from both licensed and unlicensed distributor.

Below are the states that follow the higher minimum age requirement for handgun ownership compared to federal law:

  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • New Jersey
  • Maryland
  • New York
  • Illinois
  • Washington
  • New Mexico
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • District of Columbia
Federal law bans licensed firearm distributor from selling a long gun to customers under 18 years old, however, there is no existing law that restricts minors from owning such firearm. This is why twenty-three states have created a law to close the loophole in this issue. Now, citizens need to follow the minimum age requirement to acquire long guns. This law still has its exceptions wherein minors are allowed to possess long guns if they are into target shooting or hunting and if their parents or guardian is present.
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