Guide to Buying Your First Handgun

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So you’ve got determined to buy a handgun. But what’s next? Opposite to what some individuals declare, you may’t just walk into a store and purchase a gun as easily as you will get bread or milk — however even in the event you could, there are still good reasons to take your time and think careabsolutely throughout the process.

The primary query it’s good to reply is “Why do I desire a handgun?” Most people have one of three answers: for self-protection, for leisure shooting or for hunting. Most handguns are designed primarily for considered one of these uses, and in case you purchase one ill-suited to your needs, you’ll likely have a disappointing experience.

Self-defense 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, although organized shooting sport leagues can require all manner of handguns. Hunting handguns are usually heavy, giant-caliber revolvers that require confidence and experience to handle correctly.

In case you take some time 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 will be more satisfied with your purchase in the long run.

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

The first step in becoming a accountable handgun owner is to grow to be thoroughly acquainted with these laws. Internet research is a good place to start, however it’s finest to cross-reference everything you discover in opposition to several different sources to make sure the information is accurate. Finally, we recommend 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 that you would be able to reference later.

Certain federal laws are fairly basic and apply to all gun owners in all states. With a purpose to buy a handgun legally, it’s essential to:

Not have a criminal file, with certain limited exceptions

Pass a strict background check (when you’re shopping for a gun from a licensed firearm dealer; private sellers should not required to conduct background checks on buyers, but most do anyway)

Not undergo 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 a minimum of 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 hold a handgun in public is 21. Also, there is no federal age restriction relating to rifle or shotgun ownership.)

Federal firearm laws don’t mandate any particular licensing or training, although many state laws do. Few states require licensing or training in order merely to own a handgun, though most require some form of license or permit in order to carry one in public. Some state laws further distinguish between open and hid carry, and may require licensing for one but 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 against your life or property. Though it is authorized to hold a handgun in such places in very limited circumstances, for most individuals, it’s successfully illegal.

When you plan to purchase a handgun for concealed carry, know that there are a number of different sets of laws that vary by state. Also, make sure you read our guide on how to choose a hid carry handgun for more information.

Constitutional Carry (or Unrestricted)

This is probably the most permissive hid carry paradigm. If you happen to can legally own the handgun, you’ll be able to legally conceal it in public, no license or permit required. However, obtaining a license could confer additional privileges. As an illustration, in Arizona, chances are you’ll carry anywhere without a permit, besides in bars or restaurants that serve alcohol. Obtaining a CCW license lets you carry in these 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-challenge” jurisdictions are these in which the sheriff or different relevant creatority will situation CCW permits to anyone who applies for one, barring those that fail to fulfill primary eligibility criteria.


In these places, you might or may not receive a permit when you apply for one. The government agency that makes these selections does so on a case-by-case foundation and should or might not use objective criteria.


Essentially the most restrictive states successfully don’t enable civilians to carry at all. Native sheriffs may challenge a really small number of permits (often to their friends and allies), however common citizens shouldn’t depend on getting one.

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