State by State: A Guide to Age Requirements for Buying a Gun

State by State: A Guide to Age Requirements for Buying a Gun

You’ve decided you want to buy a gun. Maybe a pistol. Or a rifle. Or a shotgun! But the inevitable question worms its way into your brain: Am I old enough to buy one? And if so, how do I buy a gun the right way? 

With heavy repercussions for purchasing and owning a gun illegally, each state has its own regulations; you may be worried about the legalities of buying a gun. 

This is everything you need to know about age requirements and how to buy your gun. 

The Responsibility of Owning a Gun 

While many owners enjoy their collection and have a blast going to the range or getting out in nature, owning and taking your guns into public requires a serious level of responsibility. 

Are you ready for that responsibility? Be honest with yourself. If you don’t think you’re ready to handle a weapon that could end someone’s life, then you aren’t ready to buy and own a gun. 

Mitigating Risk 

In nearly every safety course and firearms training course, some form of the phrase “know your target and beyond” is a focal point. 

When firing your weapon at anything moving, there’s a serious chance you could miss. In a hunting situation, you need to be aware of your surroundings and if your rounds could reach anything other than your intended target. If there’s a risk that even one round could risk someone’s life, you don’t take the shot.

When you carry, you will likely be surrounded by other people, whether you’re out hunting in a group or are taking a class at an outdoor range. It’s important to ask yourself every time you raise your muzzle: Am I putting someone at risk? 

When you miss a shot, you could be putting someone at risk beyond your target because rounds travel at powerful velocities that can take them great distances–sometimes miles. 

Believe it or not, there’s still a risk to others even if you hit your target because rounds can travel through your target and still maintain velocity. When in a carry situation, this means rounds can travel through your target or even walls, ceilings, and doorways, placing people in other rooms or buildings at risk. 

Who Has Access to Your Gun? 

As a gun owner, you’re ultimately responsible should anything happen, including the serious injury or death of another person. 

So it’s always worth answering: Who has access to your firearms? 

Within the home, this becomes a very serious issue if there are kids or other family members. You could understand firearm safety, but if everyone in your household isn’t trained on firearm safety, improperly locked firearms are a serious risk. 

This risk continues outside the home with appropriate storage and holsters, ensuring that no one other than you could access your firearms. 

Firearm Regulations 

Purchasing a firearm is serious business that requires multiple ID and government background checks. You wouldn’t want to hand a gun to a convicted felon, someone with severe mental illness, or someone who doesn’t respect guns as weapons, just to name a few. 

While many people believe the requirements for purchase have become too strict, many owners understand the need for ownership protection. 

Federal Regulations 

In an attempt to reduce gun-related crimes, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has restricted sales of firearms to:

  • Convicted felons. 
  • Drug users or addicts who have tested positive or are found in possession of drugs for personal use. 
  • Individuals who are not legal residents of the United States. 
  • People with domestic restraining orders where the individual has been deemed a risk to someone else. 
  • People with domestic assault convictions or who have made threats against domestic partners. 
  • Fugitives from justice, including those who flee, evade, or avoid criminal proceedings. 
  • Those who have been dishonorably discharged from the military. 

By selling a firearm to someone who is prohibited from owning it, the seller is subject to 10 years in prison. Most shops and private sellers double- and triple-check who’s buying guns to avoid any chance of receiving this hefty sentence. 

The ATF has made it clear that individuals over 18 can own shotguns and rifles, but not pistols. Individuals over the age of 21 can own pistols. 

State Regulation 

While the ATF and the federal government have placed strict regulations on gun ownership, these are just the minimum requirements. States are able to further restrict the ability to purchase and own firearms. 

It’s important to understand the ownership laws for your state and the transportation laws for any state you could cross into. 

Currently, in 30 states, there remains no minimum age requirement to carry or possess a gun. This allows youth to hunt and target practice as long as transportation and safety laws are followed.

Age Requirements By State 

Each state will have its own age requirements to purchase and possess handguns, shotguns, and rifles. It’s important to follow these laws, even when traveling, since failing to follow these laws often lead to prison time and criminal charges. 

Alabama 

  • Handguns: Must be age 18 to purchase and carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry a shotgun or rifle.
  • Open carry is allowed, but the firearm must be in a holster.

Alaska 

Carrying a gun is often about safety for most residents in Alaska. Many even carry around town due to the robust bear, wolf, and other predator populations. 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase. Must be 16 to carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • No restriction on open or concealed carry.

Arizona 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • No restriction on open or concealed carry.

Arkansas 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry.
  • No restriction for open or concealed carry. 

California 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry a shotgun or rifle. 
  • Open and concealed carry is technically allowed but highly restricted by individual cities. 
  • Permits are required for firearm purchases. Expect long wait times.

Colorado 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and 18 to carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry.
  • Open carry is allowed, but there are strict guidelines, including restricted magazine size. 

Connecticut 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry.
  • Concealed carry requires a court ruling.
  • Open carry requires a permit.
  • Gun sales require a 14-day holding period.
  • Private sales are prohibited and must be through a retailer. 
  • Magazine restriction to 10 rounds. 

Delaware

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase. Must be 18 to carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry.
  • Open carry is allowed. Concealed carry requires a permit.
  • All sales must be through a licensed dealer. 

District of Columbia 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. However, people as young as 12 years can carry with parental consent. 
  • Firearms are heavily regulated. They must be registered locally.
  • No open carry allowed.
  • Concealed carry licenses must be issued by the local police. 

Florida 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase. Must be 18 to carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 21 to purchase. Must be 18 to carry. 
  • No open carry and restricted concealed carry. 

Georgia 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry.
  • Permits required for both open and concealed carry. 

Hawaii 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 21 to purchase and carry. 
  • Heavy restrictions on gun sales. Permits are required for all sales. 
  • Restricted to maximum magazine capacity of 10 rounds. 

Idaho 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase. Must be 18 to carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Open carry allowed. 

Illinois

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 21 to purchase and carry. 
  • FOID card required for firearm purchase.
  • No open carry.

Indiana 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry.  
  • Permit required for open and concealed carry. 

Iowa 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry.
  • Permit required for open carry. 
  • Permit required for firearm purchases. 

Kansas

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Open carry allowed. 

Kentucky

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry.
  • Permit required for open and concealed carry. 

Louisiana 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase. Must be 17 to carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry. 
  • Open carry allowed.
  • Permit required for concealed carry. 

Maine 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry. Additionally, shotguns and rifles can be transferred to a minor over the age of 16. 
  • No concealed carry. 
  • Open carry allowed. 

Maryland 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry except for assault rifles. Must be 21 to carry an assault rifle.
  • Permit required for open carry.

Massachusetts 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. However, people 15 and over can carry with parental consent. 
  • Permits required for open and concealed carry.

Michigan 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase from an individual and 21 to purchase from a retailer. Must be 18 to carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Permits required to purchase guns. 
  • Permits required to open and concealed carry. 

Minnesota 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase. Must be 16 to carry. However, people 14 and over can carry with safety course certification. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase in cities and 14 to purchase in rural regions. Must be 18 to carry. 
  • Permits required to purchase.
  • Permits required to open and concealed carry. 

Mississippi 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry.
  • No restrictions on open and concealed carry. 

Missouri 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry.
  • No restrictions on open or concealed carry. 

Montana

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry.
  • Open carry allowed. 

Nebraska 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase. Must be 18 to carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry.
  • Permit required for open carry.
  • Permit required to purchase firearms.

Nevada 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase. Must be 18 to carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. However, people 14 and older can carry a shotgun or rifle with parental consent and proper hunter training.
  • Permit required for concealed carry.
  • Open carry allowed.

New Hampshire

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry. 
  • Open carry allowed. 
  • No concealed carry. 

New Jersey 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Permit required for open carry.
  • Sales are heavily regulated. 

New Mexico 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase. Must be 19 to carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry. 
  • Open carry allowed. 
  • Permit required for concealed carry. 

New York 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. Must be 16 to carry. 
  • Handguns must be registered. 
  • Magazines restricted to 10 rounds.

North Carolina 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry. 
  • Permit required for gun sales. 

North Dakota 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry.
  • Permit for open carry required. 

Ohio 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase. Must be 18 to carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry. 
  • Open carry allowed. 
  • Permit required for concealed carry. 

Oklahoma 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Permit required for concealed carry. 

Oregon 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase to carry
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry.
  • Open carry allowed.
  • All sales must be made through a retailer. 

Pennsylvania 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Open carry allowed, except for Philadelphia. 

Rhode Island 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase. Must be 18 to carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Open carry requires a permit.

South Carolina 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry.

South Dakota 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry.

Tennessee 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry a shotgun or rifle.
  • Permit required for open carry. 

Texas

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry. 
  • Open carry allowed.

Utah 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry.
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Open carry allowed.

Vermont 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry. 

Virginia 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry. 
  • Open carry allowed. 

Washington

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 21 to purchase. Must be 18 to carry. 
  • Open carry allowed. 
  • All gun sales must be reported to the local police. 

West Virginia

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry.
  • Open carry is allowed. 
  • No concealed carry allowed. 

Wisconsin 

  • Handguns: Must be 18 to purchase and carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase and carry.
  • Open carry available.
  • Permit required for concealed carry.

Wyoming 

  • Handguns: Must be 21 to purchase. Must be 18 to carry. 
  • Shotguns and rifles: Must be 18 to purchase. No minimum age to carry.

Summary

Buying a new gun can be a great experience and something to get excited about. Understanding your local and national laws will ensure you keep yourself out of trouble. 

Once you’ve bought your new gun, consider how you will care for and protect it. GunSkins wraps add amazing, one-of-a-kind designs to your guns in just a couple of quick, easy DIY steps. Wrap your gun in camo, flags, patriotic designs, and much more. 

What are you waiting for? Order your GunSkins kit today. 

 

Sources

Quick Reference to Federal Firearms Laws | Justice.gov 

In 30 states, a child can still legally own a rifle or shotgun | Washington Post 

Giffords Minimum Age | Giffords.org 

Gun Laws By State: The Complete and Updated Guide | GunsToCarry.com 

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