It is the holiday season, and if you are anything like Ralphie (from A Christmas Story) you are lusting for some sort of shooting iron under the tree … or wherever you exchange gifts this holiday season.
But that leads us to the question: Can you give a gun as a gift? In the words of every lawyer in America, the answer is, “It depends.”
First and foremost, it depends on where you are. Remember all the hullabaloo a while back when Washington State passed a law that people called so draconian it could land you in jail if you handed your rifle to another person in order to safely cross a fence? Well, I can’t find any evidence at USCCA.com/laws that the laws in Washington are that tough. But the state does require the private sale of any firearm to be conducted through a federally licensed firearms dealer and must include a background check. I could not find the word “gift” discussed anywhere in the overview. We will continue to look into it.
The point of the paragraph above is that you must check your local laws very closely if you are giving a gun as a gift. Most states do not require a background check on private transfers of firearms. A “transfer” is typically defined as a change of ownership. It could be that the gun is sold, given as a gift or bartered. Either way, the gun is considered transferred if it has a new legal owner. You must check your state laws, especially if you live in Washington, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and even Michigan.
Here is one more thing to consider before giving a gun as a gift: Even if you are allowed to transfer the gun without a background check, you must make absolutely certain that the person receiving the gun can legally possess the gun you are giving as a gift.
In Illinois, one must have a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card to even possess a gun. Many states, like California and Massachusetts, have requirements that guns must meet before they are “state compliant.” Some states require that a concealed carry permit list the specific handgun a person is allowed to carry. There are myriad laws across the country that can get in the way of holiday gun-giving. You really don’t want to be committing a felony this holiday season just because you gave someone a new gun.
There are some ways you can make sure you are perfectly legal. You could give a gift card or certificate to the local gun store. That way, the recipient can go and select the perfect firearm, jump through all the legal hoops and collect the gun after the holidays. Seems impersonal, though, doesn’t it?
Or, you could take your holiday gift-giving right to the store. Plan a trip to the gun store with the recipient, let that person pick out his or her gun, do all the legal paperwork, then head out to lunch or dinner and make a day of it. It is a bit more personal, and if you plan it correctly, you can still incorporate the element of surprise.
No matter how you do it, guns and self-defense gear make great gifts. You just have to make sure you are doing things by the book. Yes, I know there are lots of laws on the books, but we are not here to debate them. If you don’t like them, work to get them changed. Until then, follow them. Get your guns legally. Use them legally and train effectively.
How great would it feel to be the recipient of a new gun this year? It’s time for a holiday miracle. Go buy someone you love a gun.
Need Something More?
If that someone you love already has the perfect self-defense gun, get them something even more special. The gift of USCCA Membership keeps giving all year. Plus, we’ll send you up to $122 in bonuses, so you’ll still have something to put under the tree!
About Kevin Michalowski
Kevin Michalowski is executive editor of Concealed Carry Magazine and a fully certified law enforcement officer working part time in rural Wisconsin. He is a USCCA- and NRA-Certified Trainer. Kevin has participated in training across the U.S. as both a student and an instructor in multiple disciplines. These specialties include pistol, rifle, shotgun, empty-hand defense and rapid response to the active shooter. Kevin is passionate about the concealed carry lifestyle, studying the legal, ethical and moral aspects of the use of force in self-defense. He is a graduate of the Force Science Institute Certification Course and has worked as a professional witness and consultant on matters concerning the judicious use of deadly force and deadly force decision-making.