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How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy a Gun? [State by State]

Map showing how old you need be to buy a gun, state by state
By Ammunition Depot
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How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy a Gun? [State by State]

When it comes to firearms purchases, they're typically divided into two categories: handguns and long guns. The age requirements to purchase are dependent upon which type of gun you're buying and where you’re buying them. To make it a little easier to understand what the age requirements are for buying a gun, we've created a handy state-by-state list of how old you must be to purchase a gun.

Alabama

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Alaska

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Arizona

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Arkansas

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

California

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 21

Colorado

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Connecticut

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Delaware

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Florida

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 21

Georgia

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Hawaii

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 21

Idaho

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Illinois

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 21

Indiana

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Iowa

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Kansas

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Kentucky

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Louisiana

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Maine

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Maryland

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Massachusetts

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Michigan

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Minnesota

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Mississippi

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Missouri

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Montana

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Nebraska

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Nevada

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

New Hampshire

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

New Jersey

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

New Mexico

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

New York

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 21

North Carolina

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

North Dakota

Handgun: 21

Long Gun:18

Ohio

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Oklahoma

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Oregon

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Pennsylvania

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Rhode Island

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

South Carolina

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

South Dakota

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Tennessee

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Texas

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Utah

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Vermont

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 21

Virginia

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Washington

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 21

Washington, D.C.

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

West Virginia

Handgun: 21

Long Gun:18

Wisconsin

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Wyoming

Handgun: 21

Long Gun: 18

Important Considerations about Age and Firearm Purchases

When it comes to purchasing a firearm, the federal government regulates all handgun purchases. As you may have noticed, all handgun purchases require that you be at least 21 years of age per those federal regulations.

Rifles, or long guns as they are usually referred to, are a different story. The individual states have gotten involved when it comes to long guns and, as a result, there are variances from state to state.

A prime example of this is that some states have taken it upon themselves to raise the age to purchase a long gun. Those states (California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Vermont, and Washington) all require you be at least 21 to purchase a long gun.

Possessing a Long Gun

Hunter with rifle in the mountains

If you're not a resident of one of those states, the legal age to purchase a long gun is 18 years old. However, this doesn't mean you can't shoot a gun or be in possession of one if you are underage. In many states, there are allowances for people under the age of 18 to possess and utilize long guns.

Luckily for the younger enthusiast, as a result of hunting influences within the states, some states have specifically allowed for the direct possession of long guns by people who would otherwise be restricted due to age. In states such as Alaska, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York, there are laws that define ages at which it's legal for a person under the legal purchase age to be in possession of a long gun. For Alaska and New York, it's age 16. In Massachusetts, it's age 15 with parental consent. In Minnesota, it's allowed at 14 with parental consent; otherwise it's 16.

In the remaining states, there are actually no laws addressing specific age requirements for possession of a long gun. In most of these states, this is because the allowances are made to provide for the usage of guns as well as the ability to go hunting with adult family members present without fear of accidentally violating a restrictive law. In others, it could simply be the result of smaller, local ordinances that control these matters.

Possessing a Handgun

man holding Springfield XD 9mm Handgun with maroon background

While we're on the subject of possessing firearms under the age of purchase, we should also address the issue of handguns. As with the age restrictions for purchase, the issue of handgun possession by those under the legal age for purchase is strict; much stricter than for long guns.

Almost every state has laws regarding the transfer of a handgun to a person underage, making it illegal and, in most cases, a felony. In many states, even the use of handguns in the presence of a parent is restricted.

However, Alabama, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia each allow for the possession of handguns by those under the age of 21. In Alabama, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Virginia, the age requirement is 18. New Mexico sets the age at 19, and Vermont allows for 16.

Be Aware of Regulations

It's important to note that there are still many regulations and specifics that address the possession of guns by those who are underage, even in the states with allowances for minors. It's also equally important to know that possession is not ownership. These laws should not be construed to mean that a person under the age of purchase has the ability to "possess" the gun at all times or when alone.

Possession laws exist to allow for transporting and usage, not a loophole to underage ownership. The laws are strict, and the punishments for violating them are severe. Most result in felony punishment, which would strip you of any ability to own or even possess a gun if you're caught. So, don't take any chances and ruin your ability for long-term gun ownership by trying to play fast and loose with a loophole interpretation for a short-term gain.

Laws are constantly changing, and that's especially true for gun laws. If you have concerns that the laws may have changed, you can always contact local law enforcement. Otherwise, have fun and happy shooting!

2 months ago
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