How Old Do You Have To Be To Buy A Gun

Purchasing and owning a lethal weapon is a major responsibility that no one should take lightly. In the USA, there are laws that dictate the minimum ages for voting, driving, drinking alcohol and also owning firearms. These laws aim to encourage responsible behavior. Young adults have a high risk of engaging in violent activities and attempting suicide.

Due to this reason, minimum age laws have been strengthened in various states for possessing and purchasing guns. It is the responsibility of the government to protect its young people and the general public.  In the past decade, gun suicides of young adults and minors increased by 82%. This has forced the government to enact new laws on minimum age requirements.

These gun laws aim to decrease access to firearms as their possession can increase the number of homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings. Minimum age laws vary from state to state, and this has caused many people to wonder what is the right age to own a gun. Often we hear this question, “how old do you have to be to buy a gun?” In this article, we shall strive to answer this question and highlight reasons why age impacts gun violence and suicide.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy a Gun?

Age has always been a defining factor in an individual's mental ability to own and operate a firearm without posing a danger to themselves or others. A robust academic literature of the human body and brain shows that the brain develops further over 21 years of age. This is particularly the brain area that may alter the likelihood of an individual to participate in violence. This part of the brain is responsible for judgment, impulse control, and long-range planning.

The brain often matures at 21 years of age and can continue to develop in some individuals until 26 years of age. The developing brains of young adults and adolescents may encourage them to make risky decisions. Emotional control and impulse regulation is the primary reason for the elevated risk of attempting murder and suicide. Hormonal changes also significantly impact decision-making, self-control, emotions, aggressive impulses, and risk-taking behaviors. Biological processes which occur during late adolescence can predispose an individual to more aggressive and risky behaviors.

A study of incarcerated offenders for crimes of violence using rifles and shotguns found that most of them owned the guns illegally. Since most states have different age requirement laws, it is essential as a young adult to be aware of the gun laws in your state before you can proceed to purchase a handgun. How old do you have to be to buy guns? Since different states have different age requirements, it can be hard to say whether it is 18 or 21 years of age.

Minimum ages for gun possession are always subject to some limited exceptions. In the USA, federal law prohibits handgun ammunition or handgun possession by persons under 18 years of age. Federal law also does not provide any minimum age for long guns and long gun ammunition possession. There are also exceptions relating to possession and temporary transfer of handgun ammunition and handguns for specified activities such as ranching, employment, farming, hunting, and target practice.

Having a summary of your state law will guide you in making the right choices concerning firearm purchases so that you do not find yourself on the wrong side of the law. Some states have their minimum age requirements extended beyond those outlined in the Federal law.  These laws generally fall into four categories. They include laws that impose a minimum age for firearm or handgun purchase, the minimum age for long gun purchases from licensed and unlicensed sellers. Some laws also impose age requirements for handgun possessions and long guns possession. Additionally, a Child Access Prevention law prevents children from accessing their parent's and guardian's firearms.

Consequences of Young Adults Possessing Firearms.

For the first time in several generations, the United States House of Representatives has voted for gun violence prevention bills to be passed. This is because everyone is affected by senseless shootings and the severe consequences of young adults possessing firearms. No one is safe, this includes, those in the political class, civilians not leaving behind law enforcement officers. The fortification of the essential systems in the USA that prevent dangerous persons from purchasing firearms should be a significant priority.

Sadly the congress has partly failed in taking stern action. This has resulted in gaps within the system that some individuals have exploited, leading to loss of lives. The white supremacists rule encouraged young adults to purchase handguns and rifles as no background checks were needed. This led to senseless killings in many states, including South Carolina, where a young adult killed churchgoers.

Currently, most young adults cannot face rejection in relationships, and they often opt to use violence. For this reason, purchasing guns should be prohibited to unmarried and married persons who have previously been convicted of domestic abuse and stalkers with similar convictions. Previous gun studies have established that persons who have previously been convicted of crimes have a significant risk of escalating their violence if no proper intervention is put in place. This means that hate crime perpetrators should be denied all access to guns. 

The US. Government should strive to close all gaps to prevent gun tragedies, violent hate crimes, and incidents of domestic gun violence from arising in the future. The current oversight body of gun dealers should also have stricter enforcement measures.  Many gun dealers have violated background check laws and have escaped penalties.  Every licensed dealer has a duty to the general public to ensure that firearm laws are adhered to and that only purchasers who pass background checks get the guns.

The ATF has failed in its job, and several states are suffering from the negative consequences of young adults possessing guns. Therefore, gun dealers and enforcement agencies need to perform their jobs correctly by ensuring that no gun sales are made to underage and dangerous persons. Most Americans are demanding change and wish that gun dealers deny gun sales to minors and that background check systems need to be expanded to cover all the gun sales within the US. Borders. The political spectrum is under so much pressure from the citizens as they are also expected to close these loopholes of guns getting into the wrong hands.

Can you buy 9mm at 18?

YES! The Gun Control Act (GCA) of the USA allows 18 years of age and above to purchase and possess ammunition, rifles, and shotguns. You can purchase a 9mm once you reach age 18 as per GCA. However, some state or local laws demand that you attain 21 years of age before you can buy a shotgun or an ammo. This means state laws or local ordinances can establish higher minimum age requirements. The purchase and disposition of firearms require the licensee to observe the higher age limits.

Can you buy a handgun at 18 in the US?

YES! Federal law restricts the possession of handgun ammunition or a handgun by any individual under 18 years. For the possession of long gun ammunition and long guns, you also need to be above 18 years old. A long gun, shotgun, or rifle can be legally purchased from a licensed firearm dealer if you are over the age of 18. In Alaska, Maine, New York, and Minnesota State, you can sell a handgun or rifle to anyone over 16. A dealer can also sell a handgun or rifle to a 14-year-old without the minor’s parental consent in Minnesota. 

What guns can you buy at 18 Florida?

Rifles and shotguns can be purchased in Florida by persons above 18 years. A law enforcement officer or correctional officer must ensure that licensed gun owners are residents of Florida. You can buy and use these guns while under the direct supervision of a parent, or guardian. You can also receive instructions on the proper use of a rifle or handgun from your handgun instructor, who should be age 21 or older. The consent of your parent, guardian, or spouse goes a long way to ensure that all your actions are monitored while handling a handgun.

Can you buy a pistol for someone under 21?

For long guns, such as rifles like the AR-15s and shotguns, the minimum age of purchase from a licensed dealer is 18 years under the federal law. But there’s no minimum age to purchase a long gun from an unlicensed seller. The co-president at The Brady Campaign on Prevention of Gun Violence confirmed that few states had increased the minimum age to own firearms above the federal law.  A minor can possess a shotgun, ammunition, and rifle for lawful purposes. A guardian or spouse or parent aged 21 and older can allow a minor between ages 10-21 to possess a handgun or a long gun or  handgun ammunition while under their direct supervision. 

Legal age to open carry

According to IOWA Code, the legal age to open carry is 18 years of age. Guns should be kept away from minors or in safe places that any reasonable person will consider as secure from the reach of a minor. This means that no persons below the age of 18 should be seen carrying a firearm. According to data collected from Giffords Law Center, some states such as Illinois and Hawaii have raised their minimum age for both open carry and concealed carry. The federal law also prohibits any underage from possessing firearms or from participating in long gun sales.

At 21 years of Age you will be granted a license to possess a weapon and openly carry it depending on your states restrictions. Every permit holder is entitled to two kinds of permits. These permits include, professional permits and Non- professional permits.  Professional permits are issued to those who have attained at least 18 years of age and have a reasonable cause for owning a firearm. Non-professional permits on the other hand are issued to persons above 21 years of age who have a reasonable cause for purchasing firearms and have passed the training requirements needed for a permit to be issued.

The right age to buy ammo or long gun ammunition

Possessing firearms is a risky affair, and thus dealers should be cautious of whom they are selling these guns to.  Handguns and all sorts of firearms are described as dangerous weapons by the IOWA Code, and thus any minor who seeks after these weapons should be denied outright access. To determine the right age to buy ammo or long gun ammunition will rely on the jurisdiction you come from. A parent who is age 21 and older can allow their child aged between 14 and 21 to possess a shotgun, handgun, or handgun ammunition. All these instances should be of a lawful purpose, and the minor should have direct supervision of their parent. A permit will only be granted if the minor’s parent provides express consent for their child to own these handguns..

Shooting range age requirement

While at a shooting range, all State, Federal and Local handgun, Rifle, and long gun laws need to be adhered to the latter.  The shooting range age requirement dictates that individuals from either ages 18 and 21 can use any weapon for training while at the range, depending on the particular state. Children also above age ten can be allowed into the range while accompanied by guardians or parents. Proof of guardianship is a must if they are to shoot using a handgun or a long gun.

They ought to follow all handgun safety rules and have a valid permit before commencing their training. Shooters are always advised never to catch any falling handguns as they can easily injure themselves and those around them. Commands issued by Range personnel or Range Officers ought to be obeyed without question. Correct gears such as the eye and ear protection are mandatory for all the people in the range. Also, ammunition that contains steel is prohibited, and no child should go beyond the firing line.


We can conclude that age restrictions for those who should buy and possess a firearm depends on each state and are subject to various exceptions. A guardian, spouse, or parent with more than 21 years of age may allow a minor who is at least 18 years old to possess a shotgun, ammunition, or rifle for lawful use such as hunting. Therefore, age is a key factor considered  before a permit is issued.

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