Owning a gun is a Second Amendment right — but what happens when one person purchases a firearm for someone else?
We’re here to set the record straight and say it’s legal — but within certain conditions. Failing to observe these conditions can result in criminal convictions for both the buyer and seller.
Read on to learn more about when it’s legal to buy a gun for someone else and when it isn’t!
Legal to Buy a Gun for Someone but as a “Gift”
Federal and state laws allow people to purchase firearms for other individuals if a buyer acquires the firearm as a gift for another person. Let’s go into the nuances in greater detail.
The term “gift” implies that firearm buyers use their own money to purchase firearms. Using one’s money to buy a firearm for someone else is legal. What’s illegal is when a person gives a buyer the money to purchase a firearm.
By federal law, buyers must also purchase firearms from licensed dealers. Licensed dealers follow federal and state gun laws as they sell firearms. Dealers must verify the buyers’ identities, run background checks, and follow other requirements set by state gun laws.
Buyers looking to acquire firearms as gifts may purchase guns from an unlicensed source (like another person). However, for the transaction to be legal, both the buyer and unlicensed seller need to be in the same state.
If the buyer and unlicensed seller aren’t in the same state, the sale must happen through a licensed gun dealer in the seller’s state. Of course, the licensed seller will have to follow state and federal laws. This means background checks should be run for both the seller and buyer, among other requirements.
When Buying a Firearm for Someone Else Is Illegal — Straw Purchases
As a gift, a firearm must be in exchange for the buyer’s money, which is fine. When the recipient gives the buyer money to acquire a firearm, it’s a different story. This is known as a straw purchase, which is illegal.
Straw purchases occur when someone asks another person to purchase firearms on their behalf, so the guns don’t count as legitimate gifts.
There are two types of straw purchases. One is where a buyer receives money from a recipient to acquire a firearm.
The second type of straw purchase is a bit tricky. It’s when a buyer acquires a firearm on behalf of a recipient with a past felony or conviction. By law, people with convictions or felonies cannot acquire firearms. When a buyer gets a gun for an ex-convict or felon, the buyer may become an accomplice to a potential crime.
Whether the buyer knows of the recipient’s criminal past or not is irrelevant. By taking part in a straw purchase, the buyer participates in an illegal transaction that can earn them up to ten years in a state or federal prison.
Do State Gun Sale Laws Differ From One Another?
The short answer to this question is “yes,” but the laws governing gun purchases and sales don’t differ much between states. The laws are pretty much similar with only a couple of differences.
One of the differences buyers and sellers will see is the minimum age for purchasing firearms. It varies from one state to the next. For instance, while buyers can be 18 in some states, people must be at least 21 to buy guns in others.
Another key difference is the lawfulness of a sale between two unlicensed individuals. As mentioned earlier, buying a gun from an unlicensed seller is legal if the seller and buyer are from the same state and the buyer is buying a gun as a gift. However, in some states like California, unlicensed gun sales are illegal.
When buying a gun as a gift, the buyer must check state laws before going through with the purchase. Buyers must also take note of the recipient’s state, so they can carry out the transaction with a licensed dealer.
Key Takeaway: You Can Buy a Gun for Someone Else, But Do It Right!
Buying a gun for someone else is legal if you’re using your own money to purchase the firearm. Also, you must ensure that the person receiving it doesn’t have a prior conviction or felony.
Most importantly, you must check your state’s laws to avoid getting into trouble. If you inadvertently find yourself in the middle of a straw purchase, speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your state.
For Maryland gun purchases and registration, you can apply through Maryland State Police’s Licensing Portal.
How We Can Help You
If you have questions regarding gun permit laws in the state of Maryland, it is important that you take the time to understand the legislation so you don’t find yourself in unnecessary trouble. The attorneys at Albers & Associates can assist you in understanding your rights. If you have questions about the permit application process or any other gun permit topics, contact Albers & Associates today to learn how we can assist you.