Familiarizing yourself with both the federal and state gun laws is essential when shopping for a firearm. Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law, and failure to abide by U.S. gun laws could land you in hot water – or worse, in jail.
Federal law prohibits the sale or delivery of handguns or handgun ammunition by a licensed dealer to persons under the age of 21. A licensed dealer can, however, sell a rifle, shotgun, or ammunition to a customer who is at least 18 years of age. Under federal law, unlicensed persons are prohibited from selling handguns or handgun ammunition to persons under the age of 18.
Keep in mind, however, that those are just the federal laws regarding age requirements for purchasing a firearm. Each state has its own laws which can differ from federal laws. In Alaska, for instance, the minimum age to purchase a handgun, rifle or shotgun is 18, while the minimum age to own a rifle or shotgun is 16. In Vermont, the minimum age to purchase a handgun, rifle or shotgun is 16. Make sure you are aware of the specific laws that apply to you prior to purchasing a firearm.
If you plan on traveling with your firearm, you must follow the proper protocol. The Travel Safety Administration (TSA) recently announced on its blog that it had discovered 64 firearms in a single week (ending September 26th), 55 of which were loaded at the time of discovery. While most violators are allowed to go free without facing charges, the TSA has the authority to fine travelers up to $11,000 if they are caught trying to sneak a firearm onto the plane.
When traveling with a firearm, you must declare it and any ammunition (if applicable) during the check-in. Firearms must also be unloaded and stored in a locked hard container as part of checked baggage. For more information on how to transport a firearm through the airport, click here.
Generally speaking, citizens are prohibited from carrying concealed firearms in public places unless they have a concealed carry permit (CCW). All fifty states have laws that allow individuals to carry concealed firearms in public, assuming they first obtain a CCW. Florida has issued more than 2 million CCW licenses since first passing this law back in 1987, although the current number of CCW holders is now well under one million.
If you wish to carry a firearm in public, contact your local police department to learn more about your state's CCW and the requirements for obtaining one. You can also check out our list of resources, here. Again, each and every state has its own requirements, but most involve passing a criminal background check, submitting fingerprints, passing a gun safety course, and paying a fee.
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