Considering gifting a gun this Christmas? Guns.com rounded up a few important tips to prevent you from breaking any state or federal laws in the process.
Is it illegal to give a gun as a gift?
Buying a gun for someone else is tricky. Even in cases in which the recipient can legally buy and own a firearm, the transaction could still be considered a straw purchase. While the 2014 Supreme Court case Abramski v. United States found that gifting firearms is legally permitted, the caveat is the recipient cannot know about the purchase beforehand.
Therefore, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives along with gun industry trade groups recommend giving a gift card from a federally licensed dealer instead of an actual gun. This helps avoid the thorny issue of completing Form 4473 for a firearm that will ultimately end up in someone else’s hands.
It’s also important to consider the age of the recipient as well as their eligibility to own a firearm in your state. Many states restrict handgun transfers to those under 18, while others require permits or licenses for legal ownership.
When it comes to gifting guns to out-of-state friends and relatives, federal law mandates the transfer occur at an FFL in the state where the recipient lives. Handguns can be shipped through common carrier only, while long guns can travel through U.S. mail. All firearms must ship unloaded and clearly marked, though common carriers can require additional regulations.
There’s no federal law prohibiting you from giving a gun as a present to a friend or relative who lives in the same state. However, residents of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and the District of Columbia must complete such transfers through a local FFL. Maryland and Pennsylvania residents must complete background checks for private party transfers of handguns only.
Heirlooms and antique guns
Transferring heirloom guns from one relative to the next within the same state usually doesn’t require a background check — though some states are an exception to this rule. Transferring firearms to a resident of another state typically mandates the involvement of an FFL. The National Shooting Sports Foundation said pre-1889 antique firearms should be exempt from this requirement, but check with local law enforcement to be sure.
When in doubt, just remember gift cards and gun stores, and double check your state’s laws before wrapping up that special gift this holiday season.
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