Guide to Buying Your First Handgun

So you have decided to buy a handgun. But what’s subsequent? Opposite to what some individuals declare, you may’t just walk right into a store and buy a gun as easily as you can get bread or milk — but even should you might, there are still good reasons to take your time and think caretotally all through the process.

The primary question you should reply is “Why do I desire a handgun?” Most people have one in every of three answers: for self-protection, for recreational shooting or for hunting. Most handguns are designed primarily for one among these makes use of, and if you happen to buy one ill-suited to your needs, you may 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 usually small-caliber, affordable and mechanically easy, although organized shooting sport leagues can require all manner of handguns. Hunting handguns are usually heavy, massive-caliber revolvers that require confidence and expertise to deal with correctly.

Should you take a while to get really clear on why you desire a handgun and what you need 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 within the lengthy run.

For those who live in the U.S., you could know and abide by federal, state and county firearm laws. In cases where laws from different jurisdictions contradict one another, the stricter law applies.

Step one in turning into a responsible handgun owner is to change into completely acquainted with these laws. Internet research is a good place to start, but it’s greatest to cross-reference everything you discover in opposition to several other sources to make sure the information is accurate. Finally, we advocate checking with your native police department or sheriff’s office. They will 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 fairly fundamental and apply to all gun owners in all states. To be able to purchase a handgun legally, you need to:

Not have a criminal file, with certain limited exceptions

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

Not undergo from certain mental illnesses that may impair your judgment

Not have undergone therapy for drug or alcohol addiction within the last five years

Be a U.S. citizen or authorized immigrant

Be no less than 18 if buying from a private seller or 21 if buying from a licensed dealer (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 concerning rifle or shotgun ownership.)

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

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

For those who plan to buy a handgun for concealed carry, know that there are a couple of completely different sets of laws that vary by state. Additionally, be sure you read our guide on how to decide on a hid carry handgun for more information.

Constitutional Carry (or Unrestricted)

This is probably the most permissive hid carry paradigm. When you can legally own the handgun, you possibly can legally conceal it in public, no license or permit required. Nevertheless, acquiring a license might confer additional privileges. For instance, in Arizona, it’s possible you’ll carry wherever without a permit, except in bars or eating places that serve alcohol. Obtaining a CCW license permits you to carry in those places as well, with the owner’s consent. Note that a CCW permit would not override property rights; business owners are free to prohibit weapons on their property for any reason, if they so choose.


“Shall-concern” jurisdictions are those in which the sheriff or different relevant authority will issue CCW permits to anybody who applies for one, barring those who fail to satisfy primary eligibility criteria.


In these places, you may or might not obtain a permit in case you apply for one. The government company that makes these decisions does so on a case-by-case basis and should or could not use objective criteria.


Essentially the most restrictive states effectively do not allow civilians to carry at all. Local sheriffs could situation a very small number of permits (usually to their friends and allies), but common citizens shouldn’t rely on getting one.

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