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Buying Guns as Gifts – Legal Concerns and Best Practices

If you are considering an upcoming firearm purchase, to gift to someone you care about, there are some legal considerations and best practices to be aware of.

Firearm Gifts Legal Considerations

Beware of Straw Purchases. A straw purchase is defined as when someone makes a purchase on behalf of someone else who may not be available, able, or qualified to make the purchase themselves. If you go into the gun store in the next few weeks and tell the sales rep behind the counter that you are buying a gun for your spouse you might give them the wrong impression and potentially put yourself in an ugly investigation. The federal law prohibits you from making a straw purchase but buying a gun to gift to someone else is not the same as as a straw purchase. Watch your language in the store to ensure that you don’t say anything that might give the impression you are making a straw purchase.

pistol-505268_1280Laws regarding gifts. There is a movement across the USA from various gun control groups to pass new laws that require that background checks be obtained not just for retail firearm purchases but for ALL transfers of ownership within the state including those between two private parties. Where this is the case, the recipient of the firearm (even in the case of a gift) must obtain a state background check before taking possession of the firearm. Most states however, still have no regulation around the transfer of a firearm between two private parties. This means that if you have made the purchase and want to give it to someone you can move forward in doing so without any paperwork or additional effort. Contact your local instructor or attorney to get clear on the laws in your area. If you are gifting a firearm to someone outside the household (a friend for example) you should make sure to keep your own documentation that includes the make, model, and serial number of the firearm along with details about the person to whom you gave the firearm.

When Shopping For Another Person’s Gun

Buying a gun for another person is a huge challenge. Any given individual has unique needs such as the size of the weapon, appropriate caliber, method of carry, etc. The obvious best practice when getting someone a gift is to get them involved in the shopping. Invite a large number of friends to go shooting with you and the intended recipient. Have them bring all their weapons and cycle your intended recipient through them all to get some feedback about what they like and don’t like about different weapons. Take note for the shape of the frames that they tend to favor, the caliber of weapon they seem to be most comfortable with, and which firearm they tend to gravitate back to.

Ask your intended recipient questions that might give you insight about how they would use their next gun. Different questions would be appropriate depending on how novice or experienced that shooter may be and how many firearms they may already own. Here are a variety of examples.

“Of the firearms you own today what do you feel you are missing and why?”

“When would you see yourself actually using a firearm?”

“If you carried a weapon on your person for self defense what method of concealed carry do you see as being most comfortable or workable for you?”

“Of all of (Insert name of friend)’s guns, which do you like the best and why?”

Just like any gift shopping its always a good idea to call up two or more friends of your intended recipient and ask for their feedback as well. They may have some anecdotal insights that you can’t get directly from the person.

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