Guide to Buying Your First Handgun

So you have decided to purchase a handgun. However what’s subsequent? Contrary to what some individuals declare, you can’t just walk into a store and purchase a gun as easily as you may get bread or milk — but even in case you may, there are still good reasons to take your time and think caretotally throughout the process.

The first query it is advisable to answer is “Why do I desire a handgun?” Most people have one among three solutions: for self-protection, for recreational shooting or for hunting. Most handguns are designed primarily for one of these uses, and in the event you purchase one ill-suited to your needs, 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, though organized shooting sport leagues can require all manner of handguns. Hunting handguns are typically heavy, massive-caliber revolvers that require confidence and experience to deal with correctly.

In the event you take a while 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 glad with your buy in the lengthy run.

When you live within 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.

The first step in becoming a responsible handgun owner is to develop into totally familiar with these laws. Internet research is an efficient place to start, however it’s greatest to cross-reference everything you discover in opposition to a number of other sources to make sure the information is accurate. Finally, we suggest checking with your local 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 that you may reference later.

Sure federal laws are fairly basic and apply to all gun owners in all states. In an effort to buy a handgun legally, you should:

Not have a criminal file, with certain limited exceptions

Pass a strict background check (for those who’re shopping for a gun from a licensed firearm dealer; private sellers are usually not required to conduct background checks on consumers, but most do anyway)

Not endure from certain mental illnesses that may impair your judgment

Not have undergone treatment for drug or alcohol addiction within the last 5 years

Be a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant

Be no less than 18 if shopping for 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 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 with a view to carry one in public. Some state laws additional distinguish between open and concealed carry, and will require licensing for one however not the other.

A small number of states (notably New York and California) will not subject permits to hold a handgun in public unless you’ll be able to show proof of a credible menace 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.

For those who plan to buy a handgun for concealed carry, know that there are just a few totally different sets of laws that adjust by state. Also, remember to read our guide on how to choose a hid carry handgun for more information.

Constitutional Carry (or Unrestricted)

This is the most permissive concealed carry paradigm. In case 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 anywhere without a permit, besides in bars or restaurants that serve alcohol. Obtaining a CCW license lets you carry in those places as well, with the owner’s consent. Note that a CCW permit doesn’t override property rights; enterprise owners are free to prohibit weapons on their property for any reason, in the event that they so choose.


“Shall-concern” jurisdictions are those in which the sheriff or different related authority will subject CCW permits to anyone who applies for one, barring those that fail to meet fundamental eligibility criteria.


In these places, you might or could not obtain a permit if you happen to apply for one. The federal government company that makes these choices does so on a case-by-case foundation and should or zebre01 might not use goal criteria.


Probably the most restrictive states effectively don’t allow civilians to hold at all. Local sheriffs may concern a very small number of permits (usually to their friends and allies), but average citizens should not depend on getting one.