Did you know nearly four million Americans bought their first gun in 2020? From self-defense to recreation and hunting, countless Americans are considering buying a gun for the first time.
While most American adults are able to purchase a firearm without an issue, there are some things you need to know as a new gun buyer. Gun laws vary from state to state, so it’s always important to study up before making a purchase, and before traveling with a firearm.
Keep reading our gun buying guide below to learn how to buy a gun the right way.
Firearm Safety Is First
Unlike applying for a driver’s license, there isn’t a course or test required before you start the gun buying process in most states. So long as you meet local requirements and have a clean background, you can go buy a gun today.
However, if you don’t have any experience with firearms, it’s to your benefit, and to the benefit of others around you, that you invest in some safety training. After all, more than 400 unintentional gun deaths happen every year in the US, typically due to inexperience with firearms.
Gun safety courses are offered by most gun ranges and give you the basic knowledge and practical skills for using a gun safely. Not only do you learn how to operate a firearm, but you learn the most important laws in your area, as well as how to transport and store a firearm.
Gun safety courses are affordable and often earn you a discount when buying a gun or signing up for a range membership. Check your local shooting range or gun stores to see what courses are offered in your area.
On a side note, spending time at a shooting range allows you to rent and try out different guns, helping you find something you like before buying.
Rules and Regulations About Buying a Gun
Every state has different regulations regarding gun buying and ownership. You need to know your local laws before buying. On top of that, if you plan to travel through other states with a firearm, you need to know that state’s laws as well.
A handful of states will require you to obtain a firearm permit or license before you can buy a gun. Some states will require you to register each firearm you purchase with the state. And some states will have magazine restrictions in place, limiting the number of rounds you can have in your magazine.
Most states allow for some form of concealed carry, which is the act of carrying a handgun on your person, in public, in a concealed manner. In most places, a course and license are needed. Yet in some states, concealed carry isn’t allowed at all, even if you are licensed in another state.
And to make matters more confusing, some states will honor concealed licenses from other states, while certain states only honor permits issued within that state.
You can check out a full list of gun laws for each state here.
How to Buy a Gun
Now for the fun part. As a first-time gun buyer, the process can seem daunting to bring home your first firearm. The reality is that it’s pretty easy for most Americans.
While some people will buy second-hand guns directly from other people, most will either buy a gun in a store or online. Here’s what the process looks like.
In-Store Gun Purchase
Buying a gun in a store is like buying anything else, with some additional paperwork required before you can walk out.
When you find a gun you want to buy, you’ll have to undergo a background check. You’ll fill out some paperwork and the clerk will run the check, often taking less than 10 minutes.
There are cases when a store will not be able to sell a firearm, depending on what the background check brings to light. Felonies and misdemeanors can disqualify you from purchasing a firearm, often depending on the penalty served for a crime.
Along with a background check, you’ll need to fill out a legal form (4473) which records the information of the gun you are buying.
When all is said and done, you’ll complete the purchase, along with any accessories you need, such as ammunition, a gun case, a gun safe for home, a scope or sight, and so forth.
Online Gun Purchase
If you have your eyes set on a specific gun, there’s a chance your local dealers might be out of stock. Luckily, you can buy a gun online in most states.
However, they can’t be shipped directly to your home. Online gun dealers offer shipping to a local gun store or in some cases, a shooting range. They can be shipped to any person or business that carries a Federal Firearms License (FFL).
Once it arrives at the designated FFL, you’ll complete the same information that you would if you purchased the gun in the store. Some FFLs will charge a fee for this service since it takes time, and they aren’t making money on the gun sale.
Best Types of Guns to Buy
Once you understand the rules and regulations regarding firearm ownership, it’s time to start shopping for one. And if you aren’t too gun-savvy, you’ll quickly be overwhelmed by the number of options and variations available.
First, decide why you are buying a gun. Are purchasing a home defense gun? Or something purely for target shooting? Do you want to start hunting?
Most new firearm owners purchase a starter handgun. They are very easy to learn how to use, and they are very practical regarding home defense or concealed carry.
They are easy to store at home in a small lockbox. And the portability makes them convenient to take to the range on a regular basis to keep your shooting skills up.
Otherwise, many new gun owners are looking to hunt. Therefore, they’re looking at a long gun. If deer is the priority, then a bolt-action rifle, chambered in calibers like 30/06, 30/30 Winchester, or 7mm Remington Magnum is a good option.
If you want to hunt birds or small game like squirrels or rabbits (which is great for beginners), a 12-gauge shotgun is hard to beat. Otherwise, you can start off light and cheap with a 22 LR (long rifle), which features minimal recoil and noise.
Become a First-Time Gun Buyer Today
Buying a gun is easy for most people. The most important thing you can do as a new gun buyer is to learn firearm safety, followed by learning your state’s laws and regulations regarding firearm purchasing and ownership.
Then, you just need to decide which gun is going to be your first.
Looking for more tips regarding your first gun purchase? Head to our blog, which is loaded with helpful content for new gun owners.