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Guide to Buying Your First Handgun

So you’ve determined to purchase a handgun. But what’s subsequent? Opposite to what some individuals declare, you’ll be able to’t just walk into a store and buy a gun as simply as you will get bread or milk — however even should you could, there are still good reasons to take your time and think caretotally all through the process.

The primary question you might want to answer is “Why do I need a handgun?” Most people have one among three answers: for self-defense, for leisure shooting or for hunting. Most handguns are designed primarily for one in all these makes use of, and when you purchase one ill-suited to your wants, you will likely have a disappointing experience.

Self-protection handguns typically have good stopping energy (more on calibers a bit later), streamlined controls and either a high capacity or good concealability. Sporting handguns are normally small-caliber, affordable and mechanically easy, though organized shooting sport leagues can require all manner of handguns. Hunting handguns are usually heavy, giant-caliber revolvers that require confidence and expertise to deal with correctly.

If you take some time to get really clear on why you desire 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 long run.

For those who live within the U.S., you might want to know and abide by federal, state and county firearm laws. In cases the place laws from totally different jurisdictions contradict each other, the stricter law applies.

The first step in turning into a accountable handgun owner is to become totally acquainted with these laws. Internet research is a good place to start, but it’s finest to cross-reference everything you discover against several different sources to ensure the information is accurate. Finally, we suggest checking with your local police department or sheriff’s office. They can assist you ensure that you understand the law, and most will provide concise pamphlets or web pages you could reference later.

Sure federal laws are fairly basic and apply to all gun owners in all states. So as to buy a handgun legally, you will need to:

Not have a criminal record, with sure limited exceptions

Pass a strict background check (in the event you’re buying a gun from a licensed firearm dealer; private sellers aren’t required to conduct background checks on consumers, however most do anyway)

Not suffer from certain mental illnesses which will impair your judgment

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

Be a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant

Be at the very least 18 if buying from a private seller or 21 if buying from a licensed supplier (note that in most (if not all) states, the minimum age to hold a handgun in public is 21. Also, there isn’t a federal age restriction regarding rifle or shotgun ownership.)

Federal firearm laws do not mandate any particular licensing or training, although many state laws do. Few states require licensing or training so as merely to own a handgun, although most require some form of license or permit so as to carry one in public. Some state laws additional distinguish between open and concealed carry, and will require licensing for one but not the other.

A small number of states (notably New York and California) will not problem permits to hold a handgun in public unless you can show proof of a credible threat in opposition to your life or property. Though it is legal to carry a handgun in such places in very limited circumstances, for most people, it’s successfully illegal.

If you happen to plan to purchase a handgun for concealed carry, know that there are a couple of completely different sets of laws that adjust by state. Also, you’ll want to read our guide on how to decide on a hid carry handgun for more information.

Constitutional Carry (or Unrestricted)

This is essentially the most permissive hid carry paradigm. For those who can legally own the handgun, you’ll be able to legally conceal it in public, no license or permit required. However, acquiring a license might confer additional privileges. As an example, in Arizona, you may carry anyplace without a permit, except in bars or restaurants that serve alcohol. Acquiring a CCW license means that you can carry in these places as well, with the owner’s consent. Note that a CCW permit doesn’t override property rights; enterprise 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 writerity will difficulty CCW permits to anyone who applies for one, barring those that fail to meet primary eligibility criteria.


In these places, you might or might not obtain a permit if you happen to apply for one. The federal government agency that makes these choices does so on a case-by-case foundation and should or may not use objective criteria.


Probably the most restrictive states effectively do not enable civilians to carry at all. Local sheriffs might issue a very small number of permits (usually to their friends and allies), however common citizens shouldn’t count on getting one.

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