Unlike most countries, the right to bear arms in the U.S. is protected and guaranteed under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Thus, it’s not surprising that America leads the pack in private gun ownership in the world. However, before you exercise your right to own a gun, it would be best to know more about U.S. gun policies. Read below for the top things to know when purchasing firearms:
Regulations Vary Depending On Gun Types
Although the U.S. has more lenient gun laws than other countries, there are still types of firearms, ammunition, and explosives that are highly regulated. If you pass federal and state requirements, you can easily acquire Type I weapons. This artillery includes regular rifles, shotguns, and handguns. Suppose you’re planning on buying a gun for protection or competition, in that case, you won’t have any problems acquiring a pistol or rifle if you’re eligible to purchase it under federal and state laws.
You may also opt to buy unfinished firearms which are not heavily regulated like complete firearms. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) doesn’t consider 80% or unfinished firearms as complete firearms. Thus, gun laws and regulations don’t apply to these items in most states.
If you’re interested in building your firearm, you may acquire gun kits or lower receivers that are 80% complete. Websites like https://www.80percentarms.com/80-lowers/ and other sites manufacture and sell such gun components.
However, some states may have stricter rules even for unfinished firearms-mainly for 80% lowers. So, check your local regulations before buying. The states known to have stringent laws against unfinished guns and gun parts are California, Rhode Island, Washington DC, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Connecticut.
In contrast, Type II, or more commonly known as National Firearms Act (NFA) firearms, are highly regulated by the ATF. These include machine guns, short-barreled shotguns and rifles, silencers, and other weapons like rocket launchers and mortars. That said, silencer manufacturers have started lobbying for the state department to consider easing regulations on silencers or suppressors. Before you can sell and purchase these so-called NFA firearms, you’ll have to get special licenses and, in some instances, approval from the Office of the Attorney General.
Gun ownership in the U.S. has become more popular than ever, especially among younger Americans. It’s not surprising that there are age restrictions in place even for the sale of firearm parts. So, before you check out a guide to buying rifle scopes for the hunting rifle you’re eyeing to buy, you should know if you’re old enough to purchase a gun and gun parts.
Under the 1968 Gun Control Act, a law on the regulation of firearms, individuals planning to acquire a handgun must be at least 21 years old. However, the age requirement for buying a long gun like a hunting rifle or shotgun is at least 18 years old.
Then again, it’s still advisable to check the age requirement in your state, as regulations may vary from state to state. For example, 21 years is the minimum age limit to buying rifles and handguns in Hawaii and Florida.
Some People Can’t Buy Guns
Despite the relatively lax U.S. gun ownership regulations, many people are still restricted from purchasing firearms. Aside from minors, here are some people prohibited from owning and buying a gun:
- People convicted for felonies punishable by incarceration of more than one year.
- Addicts and unlawful users of controlled substances, including marijuana where it’s not still considered legal.
- Involuntarily committed patients of mental institutions or those adjudged as mentally ill.
- Aliens who entered the U.S. illegally or are carrying a nonimmigrant visa.
- Individuals who are dishonorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces.
- U.S. citizens who renounced their citizenship.
- People convicted with misdemeanor charges of domestic violence.
- Individuals who are subjected to court restraining orders to prevent them from stalking, harassing, or threatening an intimate partner or child of an intimate partner.
Again, gun policies may differ from one state to another, so do check your state laws.
Gun Dealers Need License To Sell Firearms
Gun dealers are also subject to the same age restriction as firearm buyers. Those who can’t acquire firearms also can’t open a gun shop. Also, you’re required to have a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and a state-registered shop or store to conduct your business. Even selling handguns, rifles, and shotguns online is strictly regulated.
A Background Check Is Necessary
Since there are individuals who are restricted from purchasing guns, a background check is necessary before anyone can buy firearms. Typically, the FFL-licensed gun seller contacts the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to verify if the potential buyer has no criminal records and is eligible to own and buy a gun. Although buyers can pay for purchases online, a background check is still necessary before they can hold their newly bought firearms.
The Bottom Line
The U.S. Constitution allows its citizens to bear arms. But before anyone can fully exercise that right, there are regulations in place. Such laws may vary from one state to another. Before buying your gun or gun parts, it would be best to know the gun policies in your area.