Guide to Buying Your First Handgun

So you’ve got decided to purchase a handgun. However what’s next? Contrary to what some individuals declare, you possibly can’t just walk into a store and buy a gun as simply as you can get bread or milk — however even for those who might, there are still good reasons to take your time and think carefully throughout the process.

The first query you want to reply is «Why do I need a handgun?» Most individuals have one among three solutions: for self-protection, for recreational shooting or for hunting. Most handguns are designed primarily for considered one of these uses, and should 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 usually small-caliber, affordable and mechanically simple, although organized shooting sport leagues can require all manner of handguns. Hunting handguns are usually heavy, large-caliber revolvers that require confidence and expertise to handle correctly.

When 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 happy with your purchase in the lengthy run.

For those who live in the U.S., it’s good to know and abide by federal, state and county firearm laws. In cases the place laws from completely different jurisdictions contradict one another, the stricter law applies.

The first step in turning into a accountable handgun owner is to turn out to be thoroughly familiar with these laws. Internet research is an efficient place to start, but it’s finest to cross-reference everything you discover against several other sources to make sure the information is accurate. Finally, we suggest checking with your local police department or sheriff’s office. They may also help you ensure that you understand the law, and most will provide concise pamphlets or web pages you can reference later.

Sure federal laws are pretty fundamental and apply to all gun owners in all states. So as to buy a handgun legally, you must:

Not have a criminal file, with certain limited exceptions

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

Not endure from certain mental illnesses which will impair your judgment

Not have undergone treatment for drug or alcohol addiction within the final five years

Be a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant

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

Federal firearm laws don’t mandate any particular licensing or training, though 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 with a view to carry one in public. Some state laws further distinguish between open and concealed carry, and should require licensing for one but not the other.

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

Should you plan to buy a handgun for hid carry, know that there are a couple of completely different sets of laws that change by state. Also, you should definitely read our guide on how to choose a hid carry handgun for more information.

Constitutional Carry (or Unrestricted)

This is essentially the most permissive concealed carry paradigm. When you can legally own the handgun, you’ll be able to legally conceal it in public, no license or permit required. However, acquiring a license may confer additional privileges. As an example, in Arizona, you may carry wherever without a permit, except in bars or eating places that serve alcohol. Obtaining a CCW license allows you to 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 those in which the sheriff or other related writerity will issue CCW permits to anyone who applies for one, barring those who fail to fulfill basic eligibility criteria.


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


The most restrictive states successfully do not enable civilians to carry at all. Local sheriffs could situation a very small number of permits (usually to their friends and allies), however average citizens shouldn’t count on getting one.

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