How to give a firearm as a gift

The holidays are upon us, and people are still thinking about gift ideas. A popular gift every year is to give someone a firearm, but how? What do you need to do if this is your plan? This guide, How to give a firearm as a gift, should help.

The first thing you need to know about how to give a firearm as a gift is whether the person you’re gifting the gun to is legally allowed to own a gun. It’s a federal felony to give, or transfer, a firearm to someone that is what we refer to as a prohibited person. Prohibited person means that person is barred under federal law from owning a gun. Reasons for that include, but are not limited to: felony convictions, domestic violence convictions, dishonorable discharge from the military, not being a legal resident, and several others. If you have reason to believe that someone is one of these and you give them a gun, you’re committing a felony. Don’t do that. The person you’re gifting the gun to also must be of legal age to own that gun. Again, federal law bars children under 18 from owning a handgun, and different states bar rifle ownership at different ages. Do your research before you buy!

The next thing you need to know about how to give a firearm as a gift is whether the person you’re giving the gun to needs to get a background check. In some states, once you buy the gun, you can wrap it up and put it under the tree and then that person can open their new gun on Christmas. However, 13 states require a second background check when ownership of the gun changes hands. Those states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington State, and the District of Columbia. In all those locales, you have to take the gun back to a Federal Firearms Licensee and get a background check done on the person receiving the gun. Additionally, in Maryland and Pennsylvania, you have to do that if you’re transferring a handgun.

How to give a firearm as a gift can be a complicated process, as you can now see. That’s why the firearms industry’s trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation recommends giving gift cards instead. Generally I agree with that sentiment, except for giving a gun to a child on a significant birthday or Christmas. If you’re buying gun for an adult, to me it makes more sense to give a gift card than to give them a specific gun. But, if your heart is set, then hopefully this article has prepared you for how to give a firearm as a gift.