AGE RESTRICTIONS ON THE PURCHASE AND POSSESSION OF FIREARMS
are spoiled by the relative ease by which they can transfer firearms between
one another. As a result, we are often confused and nonplused by
the myriad of laws and regulations which govern the transfer of firearms
to non-licensees. And so, in another installment of "The Cruffler's
Guide to Avoiding Enforced Stays at Club Fed" is a reproduction of the
NRA-ILA brochure on age restrictions on the purchase and possession of
firearms. Please remember though, that the only people who can give you
an a legally authoritative answer on what the law is in a given jurisdiction
are judges or prosecutors assigned to that jurisdiction.
The purchase, sale, possession and transportation of firearms in the United States is regulated by tens of thousands of federal and state laws and local ordinances. Many of these regulations impose greater restrictions upon persons below certain ages, with age cut-offs ranging from as high as 21 years of age to as young as 12.
Most federal laws regulating firearms are included in Title 18 of the U.S. Code -- the Gun Control Act (GCS, 1968) as amended by various subsequent laws, including the Firearms Owners' Protection Act (1986), the Youth Handgun Safety Act (1994), the Gun-Free School Zones Act (1994) and other laws. Details on federal firearm laws are available from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Federal law imposes the following restrictions aimed at younger persons:
A person must be 21 years of age to purchase a handgun or handgun ammunition, and 18 years of age to buy a rifle or shotgun or ammunition, from a retail firearm dealer. (GCA, 1968)
A person under age 18 may not possess a handgun or handgun ammunition, and it is illegal for a person to provide a handgun or handgun ammunition to a person under age 18, except for target shooting, hunting, or certain other exempted purposes. (Youth Handgun Safety Act, 1994)
It is a federal felony to provide false information (such as lying about one's age) to a firearm dealer, to deceive the dealer into selling a firearm to a person not entitled to make the purchase. (GCA, 1968)
of age it is illegal to possess a firearm on or within 1,000 feet of school
property, with limited exceptions. (Gun-Free School Zones Act, 1996)
following is a list of additional restrictions imposed by individual states.
Please note that cities and localities may have their own firearms ordinances
in addition to federal and state laws. Some information on some of these
laws is published in the BATF's State Laws and Published Ordinances --
Firearms, available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington,
D.C. 20402. However, laws change, so you should
always confirm the law with the appropriate federal state and local law enforcement agencies.
Alabama - It is unlawful to deliver a handgun to any person under 18.
Alaska - An unemancipated minor under 16 years of age may not possess a firearm without the consent of parent or guardian.
Arkansas - It is unlawful to sell, give, rent, or otherwise furnish a firearm to a person under 18 without the consent of a parent, guardian or other person responsible for the general supervision of the minors welfare.
Arizona - An unemancipated person under 18 not accompanied by a parent, grandparent, guardian or a certified hunter safety instructor or certified firearms safety instructor acting with consent of the minor's parent, grandparent or guardian shall not carry or possess on his person, within his immediate control, or in or on a means of transportation a firearm in any place open to the public or on any street, highway, or on private property, except private property owned or leased by the minor or the minor's parent, grandparent or guardian. This prohibition does not apply to a person between 14 and 17 engaged in lawful hunting, marksmanship practice, transportation of an unloaded firearm for the purpose of hunting or, between 5:00 AM and 10:00 PM, transportation of an unloaded firearm for the purpose of marksmanship at a range or other area where the discharge of firearms is not prohibited. This law applies in counties with a population exceeding 500,000. However, counties with a lesser population, or cities and towns within such counties, may adopt an ordinance identical to this law.
California - A minor may not possess a handgun except with written permission or under the supervision of a parent or guardian.
Colorado- It is unlawful for any person under 18 to possess a handgun, and it is unlawful to provide or permit a juvenile to possess a handgun. Exceptions to this prohibition are:
1) Attendance at a hunters safety course or firearms safety course,
2) Engaging in lawful target shooting,
3) Participating in or practice for a performance by a group organized under IRA code 501(c)(3) which uses firearms as part of such performance,
4) Hunting or trapping with a valid license,
5) Traveling with an unloaded handgun to or from any activity described in subparagraphs 1 through 4 above,
6) While on real property under the control of the juveniles parent, legal guardian or grandparent and who has the permission of the parent or legal guardian to possess a handgun,
7) While at the juveniles residence and with permission of parent or legal guardian to possess a handgun for self -defense.
Connecticut - It is unlawful to sell a firearm to any person convicted of a felony, any illegal alien or any minor under the age of 18. It is unlawful to sell or transfer a handgun to any person who is forbidden to possess a handgun, or to a person under 21. However, a handgun may be temporarily transferred to a person under 21 for target shooting under the immediate supervision of a person eligible to possess a handgun and such use is otherwise permitted by law.
Washington D.C. - All rifles and shotguns must be registered with the Metropolitan Police. To obtain a registration certificate, the applicant must be 21 (or be over 18 and have a liability statement signed by a guardian).
Delaware - It is unlawful for a parent to permit a child under 16 years of age to possess a firearm or air or BB gun except under the direct supervision of an adult.
- It is unlawful to sell, give, lend or transfer a pistol or other arm
or weapon "other than an ordinary pocketknife" to a minor under the age
of 18 without a parent's permission, or to any person of unsound mind.
It is unlawful for any dealer to sell any "pistol, Springfield rifle or other repeating rifle" to a minor. A minor under 18 may not possess a firearm, other than an unloaded firearm at home, unless engaged in lawful activities.
Georgia - It is unlawful for any person to sell or furnish a handgun to a person under 21 years of age.
Hawaii - It is unlawful for a minor under 18 to possess a rifle or shotgun. However, a person 16 or over, and any person under 16 while accompanied by an adult, may carry and use any lawfully acquired rifle or shotgun, and suitable ammunition therefore, while engaged in hunting, or while going to and from the place of hunting, or while engaged in target shooting at a range.
Iowa - It is unlawful to sell, loan, give, or make available a rifle or shotgun or ammunition therefor to a person under 18. Caliber .22 rimfire ammunition is deemed to be rifle ammunition. However, a parent, guardian, spouse who is 18 or older, or another with the express consent of the minor's parent or guardian or spouse who is 18 or older, may allow a minor to possess a rifle or shotgun or ammunition therefor which may be lawfully used. It is unlawful to sell, loan, give, or make available a handgun or ammunition therefor to a person under 21. Exceptions to this prohibition are:
1) A parent, guardian, or spouse who is 21 or older, of a person less than 21 but at least 14 may allow the person to possess a handgun or ammunition therefor for any lawful purpose while under the direct supervision of the parent or guardian or spouse who is 21 or older, or while the person receives instruction in the proper use of handguns from an instructor 21 or older, with the consent of such parent, guardian or spouse.
2) A person under 21 but at least 18 may possess a handgun and ammunition therefor while on military duty, while a peace officer, security guard, or correctional officer, when such duty requires the possession of such a weapon or while the person receives instruction in the proper use of a handgun from an instructor who is 21 or older.
Idaho - It is unlawful for a child under 12 to possess any shotgun, rifle, or other firearm while in the fields or forests or in any tent, camp, auto, or any other vehicle.
Illinois - It is unlawful for any person under the age of 18 to possess a handgun or concealable firearm. A person under the age of 21 is not required to have an Firearms Owner's Identification Card (FOI) in order to possess a firearm or ammunition while under the immediate control of a parent, guardian or other adult who has a valid FOI.
Indiana - It is unlawful for any person except a parent or guardian to sell or give a handgun to any person under 18.
Kansas - "It is unlawful for persons under 18 to possess a firearm with a barrel less than 12 inches unless such persons are: (1) in attendance at a hunter's or firearms safety course, (2) target shooting at an established range, (3) engaging in an organized competition involving the use of such firearm or participating in or practicing for a performance by an organization exempt from federal income tax pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code of 1986 which uses firearms as a part of such performance, (4) hunting or trapping with a valid license, (5) traveling to or from any activity described in (1) through (4) above with the firearm being unloaded, secured and outside immediate access, (6) on real property under control of their parents, legal guardian or grandparent, with permission to possess such firearm, or (7) at their parents' or legal guardian's residence with permission to possess such firearm for self-defense."
Kentucky - None.
Louisiana - It is unlawful to sell firearms to minors. "Unlawful sales to minors is the selling or otherwise delivery for value by anyone over the age of seventeen of any firearm or other instrumentality customarily used as a dangerous weapon, to any person under the age of eighteen. Lack of knowledge of the minor's age shall not be a defense."
Maine - None.
Maryland - No firearm or ammunition may be sold to any minor under the age of 18 without express parental consent.
Massachusetts - An Firearm Identification Card (FID) shall not be issued if the applicant is under 15 or is more than 15 and less than 18 and does not have parental or guardian permission.
Michigan - No rifle, shotgun or handgun may be sold to a minor under 18, a convicted felon or a person under indictment. To purchase a handgun from either a dealer or private individual, the buyer be 18, a U.S. citizen, a resident of Michigan, have no felony conviction, have never been adjudged insane (unless later restored by court order) and score 70% on a basic pistol safety review questionnaire.
Minnesota - No state permit is required to possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun. The following may not possess a handgun or semi-automatic military style assault weapon:
1) A person under 18. But a person under 18 may carry or possess a handgun or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon in the actual presence or under the direct supervision of parent or guardian; for purpose of a military drill; for purpose of a supervised instruction, competition or target practice on a police approved firing range; or if the person has completed a course on handgun or semi-automatic military-style assault weapon marksmanship and safety approved by the Commissioner of Natural Resources.
Missouri - To obtain a handgun the buyer must produce a permit to purchase which is issued by the sheriff of the county where the applicant resides. A permit to purchase shall be issued by the sheriff if all the statements in the application are true, and the applicant:
1) is at least 21, a citizen of the U.S. and has resided in the state for at least 6 months.
2) has not been convicted of or currently charged with or indicted for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
3) is not a fugitive from justice;
4) has not been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces;
5) is not habitually in an intoxicated or drugged condition; and
6) is not currently adjudged mentally incompetent and has not been committed to a mental health facility.
Mississippi - It is unlawful for any person to sell, give or lend any firearm or pistol cartridge to any person whom he knows to be a minor or under the influence of alcohol.
Montana - It is unlawful for a parent or a guardian to permit a minor under 14 to carry or use a loaded firearm unless the minor is accompanied by the parent or guardian or under supervision of a qualified firearms safety instructor.
North Carolina - It is unlawful for any parent or guardian to permit his child under the age of 12 to possess or use "any gun," except when the child is under their direct supervision. It is unlawful for any other person to furnish any firearm to a child.
North Dakota - A person under 18 may possess a handgun only under direct adult supervision for purposes of firearm safety training, target shooting or hunting.
Nebraska - It is unlawful for any person under 18 to possess a handgun "or any other form of short-barreled hand firearm." Exempt from this prohibition are persons temporarily loaned such firearms "for instruction under the immediate supervision of a parent or guardian or adult instructor."
New Hampshire - None.
New Jersey - No person under 18 shall possess, carry, fire, or use a firearm except under the following circumstances:
1) In the actual presence or under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian, or some other person who holds a Permit to Carry or Firearm Identification Card (FID); or
2) For the purpose of military drill under the auspices of a legally recognized military organization and under competent supervision; or
3) For the purpose of competition or target practice on a firing range approved by the governing body of the municipality in which the range is located or the National Rifle Association and which is under competent supervision at the time of such supervision or target practice; or
4) For the purpose of hunting during the regularly designated hunting season, provided he possesses a valid hunting license and has successfully completed a hunter's safety course.
New Mexico - It is unlawful for a person under 19 to possess or transport a handgun, except when the person is:
1) attending a hunter's or handgun safety course;
2) engaged in target shooting or in organized competition;
3) legal hunting or trapping;
4) participating in or practicing for a performance by a nonprofit organization formed under I.R.S. Code § 501(c)(3);
5) traveling with an unloaded handgun to or from legalized activities;
6) on real property under the control of the under 19 person's parent, grandparent or guardian and while under their supervision.
Nevada - A minor under 14 may not possess a firearm unless accompanied by or under the immediate charge of an adult. It is unlawful to sell to a person under 18 a firearm capable of being concealed on the person.
York State - Generally, it is unlawful for
anyone under the age of 16 to possess any firearm; however, a rifle or
shotgun may be possessed by a person between the ages of 12 and 16 who
is engaged in supervised target shooting on a range. A minor at least 14
years of age may hunt with any rifle or shotgun, provided he or she has
a valid hunting license and is accompanied by a parent, guardian or other
adult who also holds a valid hunting license.
New York City - Persons under 18 may not obtain a permit to possess a rifle or shotgun.
Ohio - It is unlawful to sell a handgun to a person under 21, or any firearm to a person under 18. A firearm may be furnished to a person under 18 for lawful hunting (persons 16 or over may hunt alone), instruction in firearms safety, care and handling or marksmanship under the supervision or control of a responsible adult.
- It is unlawful for any person under 18 to possess any weapon, except
rifles or shotguns used in hunting, target shooting, or other recognized
sporting event. It is unlawful to sell or give any firearm to any person
under 18 years of age. Exempt from this prohibition is a parent giving
his or her child a rifle or shotgun for participation in hunting, target
shooting, or other recognized sporting events. It is unlawful for any
parent or guardian to permit his or her child to possess any firearm if aware of a substantial risk that the child will use the weapon in a crime or if the child has been adjudicated a delinquent or convicted as an adult of any criminal offense.
Oregon - It is unlawful to sell, deliver or transfer any firearm to a minor under 18.
Pennsylvania - No seller may deliver a handgun to any person under 18.
Rhode Island - It is unlawful for a minor under 15 to possess and use any firearm or ammunition, unless he or she has a firearm permit and is at an approved rifle range or camp and is in the presence of a qualified adult. It is unlawful to sell any firearm or ammunition to a minor under 18 without the prior consent of his or her parent or guardian.
South Carolina - It is unlawful for the following persons to possess a handgun, any person under 21, but this does not apply to the temporary loan of a handgun for instruction purposes when the minor is under the immediate supervision of a parent or adult instructor, or members of the armed forces.
South Dakota - A person under 18 may not possess a pistol. This prohibition does not apply when a minor has the consent of parent or guardian and was in the presence of parent or guardian and was on premises owned or leased by the minor or a parent, guardian or immediate family member; the minor was in the presence of a licensed or accredited gun safety instructor, or was using the pistol for farming, ranching, trapping, target shooting or gun safety instruction.
Tennessee - It is unlawful to possess a handgun for persons under 18. It is unlawful to sell or transfer a handgun to any person under 18.
Texas - It is unlawful to knowingly sell, rent, give or offer to sell, rent or give any firearm to a person under 18, without the written consent of a parent or guardian.
Utah - It is unlawful for a person under 18 to possess a firearm without permission from a parent or guardian, or is accompanied by the parent or guardian. A minor under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
- It is a crime for any person to sell, give or otherwise furnish a handgun
to a minor if he has reason to believe that the buyer or recipient is under
18, unless such transfer is made between family members or for the purpose
of engaging in a sporting event or activity. A person under 18 shall not
possess or transport a handgun or assault firearm. This prohibition does
not apply to a minor in his own home or on his property or
on the property of another with prior permission, while accompanied by an adult while hunting, at a range or firearm educational class, and while transporting an unloaded firearm to and from such activities. It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to authorize a child under the age of twelve to use a firearm except when the child is under the supervision of an adult.
Vermont - It is unlawful for a child under 16, without consent of a parent or guardian, to possess or control a handgun.
- A commercial firearms dealer may not deliver a pistol to a purchaser
who is prevented from possessing a pistol, or who is under 21 or to one
who he or she has reasonable cause to believe is a drug addict, habitual
drunkard, or of unsound mind. No person shall deliver a pistol to any person
under 18 or to one who he or she has reasonable cause to believe has been
convicted of a felony, or who is a drug addict, an
habitual drunkard or of unsound mind.
Wisconsin - lt is unlawful for a person under 18 to go armed with a handgun or for any person to sell, lend, or give a handgun to a minor. This does not apply to target shooting when the minor is under the supervision of an adult. It is unlawful for any person under 16, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, to have in his or her possession or control any firearm. Persons between the ages of 14 and 16 who have a firearms safety certificate are exempt and may possess a firearm while alone. Those with a safety certificate who are between 12 and 14 may possess while accompanied by a parent or guardian.
West Virginia - None.
- It is unlawful to sell a handgun to anyone under 21. It is unlawful to
sell, barter, or give cartridges designed for use in a handgun to anyone
under 16.he following is a citizen's guide to legal transportation of personally-owned
firearms for hunting, competitive shooting,vacationing, and changing residence