Where to Buy a Gun: Requirements and Regulations
You and your friends are eager to try out the fun hobby of target shooting—but how (and where) can someone purchase a gun?
Buying a weapon isn’t like buying a new pair of socks, as it’s subject to strict federal and state safety guidelines. First, you need to make sure you meet the legal requirements. Then, you need to work out where to buy a gun.
To learn more, keep reading to learn all about gun requirements and purchase options. Then, you’ll soon be ready for an amazing weekend out at the target range!
First Thing’s First—What Are the Legal Requirements to Buy a Gun?
For public safety and wellbeing, not anyone can buy a gun. There are a few regulations put in place to ensure guns, firearms, and explosives don’t end up in the wrong hands.
Here are a few of the general requirements if you want to buy a weapon.
Meet the Age Requirements
Shotguns and rifles (and their ammunition) can only be purchased by those 18 and over. All other types of firearms and explosives require the buyer to be over 21—this is set on a federal level by the Gun Control Act (GCA).
However, states have the power to raise the minimum age if they see fit.
Have a Clean Criminal Record
You’ll also need a clean criminal record to buy a gun. If you have a felony on your record, have served jail time, or have convictions for other firearms violations, you may be banned.
In some states, the ban is temporary, but in other states, it’s for life. It may seem unfair to some, but the laws are designed to keep the community as safe as possible.
Complete a Background Check
In most cases, potential buyers will need to undergo a background check before a gun can be sold to them. Licensed dealers will run the buyer’s details through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which only takes a few seconds.
However, some states may also combine this with a waiting period, which can be several days, between when you apply to purchase the gun and when you’re approved to take it home.
If a gun is sold directly from one person to another, a background check isn’t required.
Meet Any Additional Requirements for Your State
Remember that gun control operates on both a state and federal level. This means each individual state can set its own regulations for purchase, which may differ from the minimum federal requirements.
Search online for your state’s details to find out what’s expected. For example, if you’re buying a gun here in Georgia, you’re required to first obtain a Weapons Carry License (WCL).
Where to Buy a Gun
Ok—you’ve met all of the requirements. So, where do you actually buy a gun?
Here are some of the most common ways to find the weapon you’ve been looking for.
Hunting and Sporting Shops
If you’re an avid hunter or marksman, one of your best options is to visit your local hunting or sporting shop.
They’ll have a large stock of rifles for hunting use, along with ammunition, camouflage, decoys, and everything else you’ll need to enjoy a weekend of deer or duck hunting. Often, staff in these shops are also hunters themselves, so they can give you plenty of great tips and guidance.
Local Armory Shops
For handguns, rifles, and other firearms, look for your area’s armory shops. These are licensed gun stores, operated by experienced staff.
Most have a large selection of products, and if they don’t have what you’re looking for, they can probably source it for you.
In many states, you can find guns at retail shops. Places like Walmart and Bass Pro Shops often sell guns and ammo for great prices.
However, because the shops don’t specialize in weapons, keep in mind that the staff might not be as knowledgeable as you’d find elsewhere.
This is a little different, but what if you’re still on the fence about what type of gun you want? Or, you want to try out a few options before you buy?
A gun is a big investment, so it’s smart to buy with care. In that case, visit a shooting range. Here, you can rent guns and weapons to use at the range before committing to buying your own.
How About Buying a Gun Online?
Can you buy a gun online? Yes—and no.
No, you can’t just order a gun online on Amazon like you would a pair of sneakers. But yes, you can buy guns online—but they must meet the same requirements as an in-person sale.
So, a registered firearms dealer will need to run your background check, ensuring you’re legally allowed to own a weapon.
Buy a Firearm Legally and Responsibly With the Help of This Guide
Now that you know what’s required, along with where to buy a gun, it’s time to start shopping!
We recommend first doing plenty of research on which type of weapon suits your needs and budget. If you’re new to weapons, you’ll also want to take a firearms safety course—safety should always be your number one priority.
Then, you can purchase your new weapon and start enjoying the fun of target shooting, hunting, and rifle ranges!
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