Why Legally? Well whether or not I agree with state and federal gun law guidelines, they are the law and if you want to continue buying, collecting and shooting guns of all sorts for the rest of your life I’d suggest you abide by your local gun laws. They can easily be found by doing a quick Google search such as “________ state gun laws.”
Why so much emphasis on state AND federal laws? Well, unfortunately each state is able to establish their own laws based on how they interpret the constitution. This means there are some states we refer to as free states (while it’s up for debate whether or not ANY state fits this description, I’m referring to states like New Hampshire, Arizona, Idaho, Texas for example) and some states who place heavy restrictions on magazine capacity, removable mags, the type of safeties they have, barrel length, blah, blah, blah and so on and so forth. It’s the endless debate of government controlling people instead of being there FOR the people. This isn’t a political blog, so I’ll stop there.
Last week after posting about the screaming deal I found on my new Kahr CW9 and being careful of the type of advice you take from gun shop gun counter guys like “Mr. Realtree” who hands out advice as an expert whether he is or not, I got a whole pile of questions from potential gun n00bs about how you would go about purchasing your first gun. So here’s a checklist of options for purchasing and thoughts about doing so legally in no particular order.
- First and foremost, you CANNOT be a felon. Sorry folks, but if you’ve been convicted of a felony you cannot legally purchase a firearm from a dealer or a private party (individual). It doesn’t mean you have to give up the guns you have, but it does mean you can’t add to the collection.
- KNOW your state & local gun laws before buying. I can’t break down every state’s individual rules, but they can be found easily online. Google it. But if you were to buy a gun online and then find out it’s not legal to own that particular firearm in your state it really bites to find out after the fact.
- What is a Form 4473? This is the BATFE required form for the individual purchasing/transfering a firearm to fill out so the Federal (or state in the case of Colorado called CBI) Bureau of Investigation (this check is called NICS) can clear or deny access to firearm purchase.
- When filling out your form 4473, TAKE YOUR TIME! After you’ve filled out 100 or so you can blaze through, but take a deep breath and git-r-done.
- What is an FFL? This is a Federal Firearms License. The FFL is a dealer or individual who can legally sell and transfer a gun to an American citizen with no limitations on their record. Finding a quality FFL is especially handy when it comes to buying a gun online from an auction or individual from out of state where shipping comes in.
- TAKE YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE. If you don’t drive, you’ll need a state issued ID of some sort with your CURRENT ADDRESS on it. I ran into this at Sportsmans last week. My license displays my old address, and even though it’s changed in the State’s system, Sportsmans required a document with my current address issued by state or federal government. Fortunately I had our vehicle registration in the car.
- You CAN buy a gun from another individual in most states without a background check as long as the transaction is face to face, the buyer is of age and can legally posses that particular firearm. This is where state regulations on age, and being a non-felon come into play.
- Can I buy guns online? Yes thanks to sites like BudsGunShop.com, GunBroker.com (online auction), and others, you CAN purchase a gun online, but it has to be shipped to an FFL to be legally transferred to you after a background check (Form 4473).
Here’s where I would start as an icebreaker… after you’ve determined what you want your first firearm purchase to be, and you’ve shopped around for the best price, go in that shop, own your decision and let the experts do the rest. Fill out your form, sit back and relax, pay and you’re golden! When you’ve got some experience buying guns in shops, then it’s easier to venture out into the world of private party sales or find an FFL to receive your purchases in the world of gunbroker.com and internet sales.
This barely scratches the surface of HOW TO BUY A GUN, but if you’re not from a gun culture, you don’t have a buddy who wants to sell you your first gun face to face, it’s a place to start.