Gun Purchase Laws

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There are many laws in the US concerning the purchase of gun laws. Most of these laws are federal and state laws and they depend on how a person acquires the firearm. Various Ways to Acquire Firearms in the US.

Gun Acquisition Means

There are a couple of different ways you can legally obtain a firearm in the United States. You can assemble one from scratch, buy from someone else, or buy from a gun show. You can also get one as a gift, or inheritance.

Assembling a Firearm From Scratch

There are a few federal restrictions on what gun you can assemble. Shorter rifles are going to require registration and perhaps a tax. But auto firearms are outrightly restricted. Up until recently, people have been able to assemble any firearm they wanted from scratch.

Buying a Firearm

Purchasing from someone is fundamental. It is just like the exchange of any personal property and is something that has been around since forever. There is really no other better way to express freedom than to privately sell or buy from another free individual.

There haven’t been any restrictions on private sales of firearms until 1934. The act defined private sales and required registration on certain firearms.

Gun shows

Gun shows are basically swap meets for firearms. If you haven't been to a gun show, it is really nothing more than a bunch of people bringing in items that they want to sell and people show up to buy them.

So a gun show is a swap meet for firearms and a place where licensed individuals are eligible to do business. Because of this, people think gun shows are somehow only for business. They don't realize that private sales happen at gun shows just as much as purchases from dealers.

Since the federal law does not require any kind of background check or waiting period between private sales through individuals, people think of that as a gun show loophole.

However, considering private sales in the gun show as loopholes depend on who you are talking to on the anti-freedom side. everyone has their different opinions.

Getting a Firearm as a Gift

For the most part, gifts are not restricted, tracked, and regulated. This can be a positive if you are a freedom lover or a negative if you don't trust other people.

Getting a Firearm as Inheritance

Getting a gun as an inheritance is very much like a gift. They are not retracted, restricted, tracked, or regulated. Unless we are specifically talking about NFA firearms. If you hand down an NFA firearm or a firearm that is restricted by the 1934-gun control Act, you do have to do some transfer of ownership as well as a tax.

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Laws That Deal with The Purchase of Firearms in the US

When talking about laws that affect buying a firearm in the United States, we are talking about short firearms, machine guns, and the likes.

Aside from the 1934 NFA law, there are other federal bills enacted to deal with the purchase of firearms. They include the following:

The Gun Control Act of 1968

The 1968 Act regulates interstate commerce of firearms between anyone except the licensed dealer. It prohibits the ability to sell firearms across state lines and then creates a licensing system to allow that law to take place.

The law also created a minimum age for buying handguns and a minimum age per possession of handguns. It put ten restrictions on the ownership of firearms. These are the ten questions that we see on form 4473 that must be filled before buying a firearm today.

It created the licensing system for gunsmiths, manufacturers, importers, retail sales as well as collectors. It required serial numbers and the creation of paperwork to record those serial numbers, and then it created the sporting use of firearms.

Brady Bill

This is the bill that was created due to the assassination attempt on the then American president, Ronald Reagan. It went into effect in 1994 and expired in 1998 when the national background check system was created.

Not only did this bill lead to the national background check it also required a waiting period. The waiting period was deemed unnecessary since it didn't do anything to solve gun problems and it was repealed in 1998. Only a few states still make use of the waiting period.

National Background Check.

Though the system did come from the Brady Bill and was created in 1998 as the Brady Act, it is run by the FBI. It is a system that determines if a buyer is prohibited from buying a firearm according to the ten requirements of the 1968 Gun Control Act.

Again this is only necessary and applicable to purchases through licensed dealers. It is done in only about 30 states, but some states require more than a background check. In states that there was no federal waiting period, the dealer may transfer the firearm as soon as they complete the background check.

Waiting Periods

Today there is no federal waiting period anymore. They were active for just four years during the Brady bill. However, 11 states and Washington DC still do require waiting periods. People claim that waiting periods have no impact on gun crime control because most of the states with the highest crime rates make use of it.


  • There has never been a federal registration against private sales
  • There has never been a federal waiting period after those first four years. the law was deemed not necessary, challenged, and removed.


Laws Restricting Who can Purchase a Firearm in the US

There are statutory limitations for firearm purchase both at the federal and state level. They prohibit certain individuals from ever being in possession or buying a firearm.

These laws include the following:

  • In some states like California, anyone who is under 21 years of age cannot purchase a firearm. There are certain workarounds for certain groups of people and for certain guns. For instance, if you are over 18 years old and you possess a valid hunting license you can purchase a long gun. However, some states have this restriction age at 18 years old.
  • If you are under restrictions of protective order you cannot buy a firearm.
  • If you were a felon, your ability to acquire a firearm has been prescribed for life. You will never be able to be in possession of a firearm except you get a state or federal pardon.
  • If you were held for more than 72 hours in a psychiatric home with voluntary admission status, you are prohibited from owning a firearm for five years from the time of admission. If you are involuntarily admitted, then you could be prohibited for life from having a firearm.
  • Lautenberg status means if you were ever convicted, or pled to a charge of misdemeanor or domestic violence, then you are prohibited from being in possession of a firearm.
  • Individuals that are fugitive from justice are prohibited from possessing firearms.
  • Another group of individuals who are not allowed to use firearms in the US are unlawful drug users and addicts.
  • People allowed into the country with immigrants visas are known as illegal aliens and are prohibited from the possession of firearms in the US.
  • Individuals that have renounced their citizenship and those declared non-citizens in the US cannot possess firearms.

Process of Buying a Firearm in the US

The due process for the purchase of firearms from an FFL dealer in the USA include the following:

Means of Identification

When a customer comes in and finally decides to purchase a firearm, depending on the state or city, they may have to produce a driver's license or an ID card.

The information on that card has to match the information that they put on the 4473 form. The FFL dealer will then review the information to make sure it is correct. The customer can then sign it.

Requesting Background Check from the FBI

This process can take as little as 15 minutes. If the buyer has a concealed carry permit, in some states, that will exclude a background check. But without a CCW permit, the FFL dealer will have to call the FBI and give them the buyer’s personal information. The FBI will do a background check on the person and either complete the check, deny or delay sales.

Delays can happen when a person's name is similar to another in the FBI system. Delay can take as much as three business days. On that fourth day, the buyer can come in and pick up their firearm even if the dealer is yet to hear from the FBI.

In Case of Denial

If the FBI calls back for a denial, the FFL dealer is obliged to tell the agency that the customer has already picked up the firearm. The dealer will then send a copy of the 4473 form to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. This is the agency tasked with finding that customer.

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