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Guide to Buying Your First Handgun

So you’ve decided to buy a handgun. However what’s subsequent? Contrary to what some individuals declare, you possibly can’t just walk into a store and purchase a gun as easily as you will get bread or milk — however even if you might, there are still good reasons to take your time and think carefully throughout the process.

The first question you want to answer is “Why do I desire a handgun?” Most people have one of three answers: for self-protection, for recreational shooting or for hunting. Most handguns are designed primarily for one of these makes use of, and if you purchase one ill-suited to your needs, you may likely have a disappointing experience.

Self-protection handguns typically have good stopping power (more on calibers a bit later), streamlined controls and either a high capacity or good concealability. Sporting handguns are usually small-caliber, affordable and mechanically simple, though organized shooting sport leagues can require all method of handguns. Hunting handguns are generally heavy, large-caliber revolvers that require confidence and experience to handle correctly.

In the event you take a while to get really clear on why you want a handgun and what you want it to do for you, the research and shopping phases will be more productive and enjoyable, and you’ll be more glad with your buy in the lengthy run.

In case you live within the U.S., you want to know and abide by federal, state and county firearm laws. In cases where laws from different jurisdictions contradict each other, the stricter law applies.

Step one in changing into a responsible handgun owner is to develop into completely acquainted with these laws. Internet research is a good place to start, but it’s best to cross-reference everything you find in opposition to several different sources to ensure the information is accurate. Finally, we advocate checking with your native police department or sheriff’s office. They might help you ensure that you understand the law, and most will provide concise pamphlets or web pages which you can reference later.

Sure federal laws are pretty primary and apply to all gun owners in all states. So as to buy a handgun legally, you could:

Not have a criminal file, with sure limited exceptions

Pass a strict background check (if you happen to’re shopping for a gun from a licensed firearm vendor; private sellers are not required to conduct background checks on consumers, but most do anyway)

Not endure from certain mental illnesses that will impair your judgment

Not have undergone remedy for drug or alcohol addiction within the final 5 years

Be a U.S. citizen or authorized immigrant

Be not less than 18 if shopping for from a private seller or 21 if shopping for from a licensed vendor (note that in most (if not all) states, the minimum age to carry a handgun in public is 21. Additionally, there isn’t a federal age restriction regarding rifle or shotgun ownership.)

Federal firearm laws don’t mandate any particular licensing or training, though many state laws do. Few states require licensing or training in order merely to own a handgun, although most require some form of license or permit with a purpose to carry one in public. Some state laws additional distinguish between open and hid carry, and should require licensing for one however not the other.

A small number of states (notably New York and California) will not issue permits to hold a handgun in public unless you’ll be able to show proof of a credible threat in opposition to your life or property. Although it is legal to hold a handgun in such places in very limited circumstances, for most individuals, it’s effectively illegal.

Should you plan to buy a handgun for concealed carry, know that there are a few completely different sets of laws that modify by state. Also, be sure to read our guide on how to decide on a hid carry handgun for more information.

Constitutional Carry (or Unrestricted)

This is the most permissive concealed carry paradigm. When you can legally own the handgun, you’ll be able to legally conceal it in public, no license or permit required. Nonetheless, obtaining a license could confer additional privileges. For instance, in Arizona, it’s possible you’ll carry anywhere without a permit, besides in bars or eating places that serve alcohol. Acquiring a CCW license lets you carry in those places as well, with the owner’s consent. Note that a CCW permit doesn’t override property rights; business owners are free to prohibit weapons on their property for any reason, in the event that they so choose.


“Shall-difficulty” jurisdictions are these in which the sheriff or different relevant creatority will situation CCW permits to anybody who applies for one, barring those that fail to fulfill fundamental eligibility criteria.


In these places, you might or might not obtain a permit in the event you apply for one. The federal government company that makes these decisions does so on a case-by-case foundation and will or might not use goal criteria.


Probably the most restrictive states successfully don’t enable civilians to hold at all. Local sheriffs may challenge a really small number of permits (normally to their friends and allies), however common citizens should not rely on getting one.

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