How Old Do You Have To Be To Buy A Gun: Buying and Transferring Laws

How old do you have to be to buy a gun?

The legal guidelines for firearm possessions are based on the 2nd Amendment in the Constitution. But the most common question is ‘how old do you have to be to buy a gun.’ In this article, you are going to find out the regulations of owning a gun and the legal age to possess one. 

Gun laws are one of the debatable topics today, especially in politics. For every shooting incident, gun ownership and firearms control are massively increasing, especially now that  the age restriction in acquiring weapons is not followed.

According to the 2011 Small Firearms Record, out of every 100 individuals, an average of 88 percent are gun owners. Aside from that, the Giffords Law Center and Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence are reported to have 115,000 people get shot every year in the United States alone. According to Giffords Law Center, these incidents of gun violence include accidents, suicide, murders, and assaults. 

With the staggering statistics of these incidents, gun owners need to make sure that their weapons or firearms are kept in a secure gun safe, advocating strict regulations, especially on age, to fight for every country’s safety.

Keeping rifles depends on the owner and the kind of guns they own. Some are conventionally putting their long guns and rifles in open cabinets or racks. Others make use of their handgun vault. One best option also is to utilize a small gun safe, which you can comfortably install inside your car. Getting a biometric gun safe lets you have easy access to the handgun in case it is needed.

How old do you have to be to buy a gun in your state?

Those who oppose gun regulation and laws are worried about the security and safety of their country. But, what they are truly scared about is the fact that citizens could not protect themselves if there are strict regulations they need to follow.

Despite these issues, there are many other ways you can access firearms or weapons in the United States, and it largely depends on which state you are located in.


The State of California has the most detailed set laws of owning new rifles. The reason behind this is the mass shooting and gun violence in Thousand Oaks Country and Western bar last November of 2018. A gunman killed 12 individuals, then committed suicide afterward. California considered it the second-deadliest incident in their state, next to the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, which killed a total of 17 people.


The Illinois Gun Restraining Order Act prohibits individuals who can harm themselves and a lot of people surrounding them if they get a gun. If someone shows suicidal attempts or life-threatening behavior, whether it be in social media or in-person, relatives, family members, and the police can demand emergency orders of security and protection. These authorities are given the power to confiscate the guns or any firearms in a span of 2 weeks to six months. 


There is a firearm ban for domestic abusers and stalkers, and it has been an updated law in the state of Oregon. In their previous law on rifles, only abusers that were married to their victims are prohibited from purchasing or owning firearms. With the updated law, it restricts stalkers, abusers, and other individuals from buying and purchasing weapons even if they are not married to the victims.

Washington State

Age matters when buying guns in the state of Washington. For instance, buying semi-automatic rifles increased from 18 to 21 years of age. Washington declared a new set of age requirements for people who want to own a rifle and the need to own a walk in gun safe or a truck gun vault if they mostly use their vehicles when traveling. There is an updated background check process for gun possession and purchase. The authorities or law enforcement can file minimal charges to those who use their rifles or any weapons for threats and other gun violence. Additionally, parents who own a rifle must store their weapons in a secure handgun safe or vault. If not, they can be charged with negligence and could lead to the revocation of their license to have a gun.

How to legally get a gun

Based on the Gun Control Act of 1968, individuals and legal residents must be at least 18 years of age to purchase ammunition, rifles, and shotguns. The other types of weapons can be sold to 21 years old and above. There are minimum age requirements, and the authorities have the power to update or lower it, depending on the state or local officials. Gun owners must secure a rifle vault also as required by the authorities. Their cars should maintain a vehicle handgun safe or a pickup truck gun rack that they can bring anytime when traveling. 

Getting a rifle is not a comfortable shopping experience. You should know how to sight in a handgun that suits your lifestyle. To help you find the right one, ask advice from people who are experts on rifles. Or, you can also make use of the handgun bullet caliber size chart because this can help you find the right ammunition for your rifle or handgun.

What is the youngest age to buy a gun?

The Federal Law bans a licensed dealer and authorized distributor from selling long guns to individuals under 18 years of age. However, no guidelines restrain unlicensed distributors from selling long guns to minors. The federal law imposes a restraining order for authorized handguns distributors from selling it to individuals under 21 years of age. There are no regulations that ban the unlicensed distributor from selling rifles to minor customers. Because of this, a lot of states in the US have demanded a minimum age for rifle purchases, both from a licensed dealer and an unlicensed distributor.

According to federal law, some US states require a higher minimum age for gun possession and ownership.

  • New Jersey
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • New York
  • Maryland
  • New Mexico
  • Illinois
  • Washington
  • District of Columbia
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts

In total, there are already 23 states that have enacted laws to settle the issue. According to the Federal Law on these states, licensed weapon distributors are banned from selling long guns to people under 18 years minimum age. But, there are no existing regulations about age restrictions on minors in owning rifles and other weapons. 

Today, people must follow the law on the minimum age requirements of acquiring long guns, rifles, and shotguns. There are exceptions that state that minors are allowed to own long guns if they will only use it for hunting and target shooting. The law will let them have this kind of rifle if their parents or any guardians are present when they purchase it.

Can a 13-year-old buy a gun at a gun show

Generally, the law restricts giving, lending, or selling guns or weapons to individuals under 18 years as the minimum age. Many states also prohibit an individual from delivering to one person under this minimum age. Therefore, people under 18, including a 13-year old minor, are not allowed to possess a firearm or purchase one at a rifle show.

These prohibitions don’t apply if the minor is permitted by authorities to own a rifle, only if their parents or guardians are not restricted from owning a weapon under the state’s federal law. Minors must take note of the following allowable condition below regarding firearm possession: 

  • If the minor is joining hunter education training or weapons safety courses supervised by an adult who is not age-restricted from owning a rifle under the state's federal law.
  • If the minor participates in weapon activities like hunting and targeting shooting at an established range with the supervision of an authorized adult, the adult must not be age-restricted in possessing a firearm under state's federal law.
  • If the minor engages in a competition involving the use of a rifle and if they participate in performances demanded by an organized group that uses weapons in performing such activities.
  • If the minor is a fishing or hunting pursuant with a valid license required to do such activities. They must have a possession license, with a written permit from the owner of the land where the activity is performed. The weapon must be carried safely not only for the owner's safety but also for the people around him.
  • If the minor is on land under the minor's parental control and with supervision from authorized people.
  • If the minor is only traveling with the use of a motor vehicle to any activities given above. They must have written permission to own a firearm by their parents or any legal guardians. In bringing the rifle, it must be unloaded, locked in a safe container and carefully connected to the motor vehicle, and out of reach of the driver or any passengers.

Importance of handgun laws for ownership

The 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution protects a person’s right to store and own weapons. Some laws and regulations govern the possession, sale, and use of firearms being established in each US state. It means that short or long gun owners must follow the laws of the state of the residence and the gun laws of any state they try to visit. 

For instance, if you need to have a permit to carry a firearm in your residence state, your permit must be recognized from another state also. That’s why it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations of other states or countries you want to visit if you bring a firearm.

The same regulation applies to short and long gun owners who decided to move to another state. There are still states who don’t require an individual to register their guns. But you have to take note of those places that require one so you will not abide by the law. 

One example is in the state of California and New York. The new residents who own a short or long gun are required to register their handguns within 60 days in the Department of Justice and Automated Firearm System. While in Texas, gun regulations are more lenient. Though the sale of guns and other weapons in Texas requires a permit to purchase, the new residents are not required to register the guns they bring while moving in the new state.

Owning a gun is a big decision to make.

If you are considering buying a gun for home defense purposes, you are encouraged to ask advice from a certified rifle possession authority before you make the final decision. Consider the minimum age when purchasing rifles. They will not only answer all your questions regarding the operation and ownership of weapons but also help you find the right firearms. 

What’s important on gun ownership is to educate yourself on the safety and proper use of guns for self-defense. Participating in different courses about weapons can be very helpful because they are specifically created to teach every rifle owner the essentials of short or long gun safety and handling skills. It is needed to confidently defend oneself and other people’s lives against crimes, armed robbers, and other harmful invasions. Gun ownership and safety courses will include all the information about the legal regulations of handling a deadly weapon in your state.

Firearms and self-defense courses can be found in your local area. But in case there are none, you can do an online search for a qualified provider of these courses near your city. Additionally, other self-defense courses offer safety firearm handling and other topics, including rape prevention and proper and minimum age, to acquire a rifle, TASER certification, and more.

Owning a gun is your responsibility.

Gun possession comes with a great deal of responsibility. You should exercise all precautions when having a short or long gun at home for self-defense purposes. The majority of jurisdictions across the US stated that this deadly weapon is considered as your last resort under extreme situations. It is not for everyday use. 

If you are going to store your short or long gun in your house as a tool to defend your family in a specific emergency, be responsible and take all the necessary precautions. Take some time to educate yourself and your family on the laws and age restrictions regarding rifle possession. 

As much as possible, acquire critical skills to ensure that you all can be safe by properly handling and using a firearm. When the time comes that you will be asked about firearms and the different factors aligned to it, you know how to answer, even the simplest question, ‘how old do you have to be to buy a gun.’