The Gift of a Gun

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

I remember when I received my first firearm. I was 12-years-old and I had just received my Hunter’s Safety Certificate in Colorado. For my birthday that year, my dad bought me a 20-gauge, single-shot shotgun, so I could go pheasant hunting with him. A few years later, I got a Winchester 94, .30-30 lever-action rifle to go deer hunting with.

Those were great presents and I remember receiving them with a lot of joy. I had joined the ranks of gun owners everywhere and could go hunting with my own firearms. I’ll have to say, I wasn’t a very good shot back then; but it was more about going hunting at the time, I hadn’t reached the point of putting in the time to learn how to shoot well.

Wanting to share our love for guns is just as normal for those of us who are gun owners and gifting anything else would be, for people who were interested in those things. As a gun owner, I’ve had the privilege of teaching my (now adult) children to shoot and I’ve passed a couple of guns along as gifts. But giving a gun as a gift isn’t the same as giving anything else, we must take special care in this sort of gift-giving.

There is no federal law on the books that prohibits giving a gun as a gift, although there are those who are trying to make it so. However, there might be local laws that either prohibit giving a gun as a gift, in some states or which require legally transferring that firearm to them. This can mean going through a FFL, so as to ensure that a computer background check is run on the receiver. There are over 20,000 firearms-related laws on the books, so be sure you know what is permissible in your state, before giving your favorite deer rifle to one of your kids.

Most of the laws regarding firearms that do exist include an exemption for antique firearms, manufactured before 1899. Again, don’t assume anything; check on the law in your state. Any gun store should be able to tell you if it is legal or not and most will be glad to do so.

There are a few other potential road-blocks you need to consider. Federal law states that an individual must be at least 18-years-old to own a handgun; however, there is no minimum age for long guns. This doesn’t mean that there may not be a state law establishing a minimum age. There are some 20 states which have passed more restrictive laws than this.

The other major factor to take into consideration is whether the individual can legally own a firearm. Anyone who has been convicted of a felony, some types of violent misdemeanors, is under indictment for a crime or has been judged mentally incompetent can’t legally own a firearm. Buying a firearm for them is considered a straw purchase, which is illegal. If you’re not careful, you could end up in prison, just for wanting to give a nice gift to your son.

Crossing state lines can cause problems too. Most firearms laws are state laws, with blue states being much stricter about gun ownership than red states are. It may be necessary to check on the gun laws in the state where they reside, as well as in your own state. There’s no sense in trying to send a rifle that’s a family heirloom to a relative living in a state where they can’t keep it.

Speaking of sending firearms, if you’re planning on shipping a firearm as a gift to someone living in another state, you must ship it to someone with a valid FFL and allow them to transfer it to your intended recipient. This allows them to run a criminal background check, as well as creating a paper trail, should that firearm ever end up being used in the commission of a crime.

This brings up my final point. You need to be sure that you can trust the person you’re giving that firearm to. I don’t just mean that you can trust them not to rob the local liquor store, but that you can also trust them not to get drunk and shoot their neighbor. When law enforcement starts tracing that gun, they’ll eventually find out that you bought it; it might take a while, but they’ll find out. When that happens, you’re going to have some explaining to do.

Maybe it would be better to just give them a gift card and let them buy the gun themselves. They’d still get and appreciate the gift and you’d be protected.

Stay safe. Enjoy the holidays; and don’t forget to keep your powder dry and your survival equipment close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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