The 101 Guide to Gifting a Gun

The following is a video transcript.

Firearms can make great gifts. However, before you buy a gun as a gift, there are a few legal matters to consider.


First and foremost, make sure the recipient is eligible to possess the gun. Some individuals, such as convicted felons, those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic abuse, or those subject to certain protective orders are prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law.


Second, make sure you and the person receiving the gun are residents of the same state. Generally, a private, unlicensed individual may transfer a gun to another private, unlicensed individual who is eligible to possess firearms, if both of you live in the same state. However, there may be additional legal hoops—which brings us to our next point.


Third, follow your state’s laws regarding private transactions. Some states may have specific requirements. For example, Colorado requires a background check processed by a licensed firearm dealer before gifting a gun, unless the gift is to a member of your immediate family. Connecticut and California have even stricter laws, requiring background checks for all private transactions—including gifts—regardless of who is receiving the gift.


Last but not least, no “straw man” purchases, which is buying a firearm when you’re not the actual buyer or transferee. One example of a straw man purchase is buying a gun for another person who is legally unable to purchase a gun with their money. Don’t worry though, the ATF and the Supreme Court have stated purchasing a firearm as a gift for a third party does not qualify as a straw man purchase. In this situation, the giver is considered the actual buyer or transferee of the firearm and not a straw man.

We all know it’s better to give than to receive, and if you have any questions regarding gifting a gun, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

First Aid for Gunshot Wounds 2A Institute

Comment section

16 comments on “The 101 Guide to Gifting a Gun

  1. How do you gift firearms to children under the age of 17? Do I need to write a receipt? What info do you need to included on a receipt? I would like to buy a quick form from Texas Law Shield.

  2. Want to gift my brother one of my AR’s. He’s legal in our state (Nebraska) but I have a CCP and don’t want to commit a crime. Is a bill of sale required or any other forms?

    • Hello Ronald, thank you for your question. Please see the following response from an Independent Program Attorney.

      “Do both your brother and yourself live in Nebraska? If so, then there is no paperwork or notification to the state that is required under either Nebraska or Federal law for the transfer of a rifle. However, if you want to transfer a handgun to your brother, he will be required to have either a Nebraska Concealed Handgun Permit or a handgun certificate issued by his local chief of police or county sheriff.”

  3. I’ve always thought the best way to give folks a firearm was to get them a gift card from a gun store. As long as they are eligible to own a firearm, let them pick out what they want. It’s easier that way.

  4. That is an excellent question. I have the same Q for gun purchased for my daughters use. At her current age i am the owner and she only goes to range with me, only handling them under tight survision but nearing the age i feel she should have her own.

  5. I think the best way to gift a gun is either a gift card, layaway paid down to one cent, or go with the person and pay for the gun while they fill out the background check.

  6. MD,

    I agree and do the same with my sons. They are approaching that age where ownership will be legal. I think the bast answer will come from a firearm attorney. Thought since I am a paid member of US Texas Lawshield I would get sound reasonable advice.

  7. I’m not talking about new firearms. The gift card would work fine for new firearms. I’m talking about currently owned firearms. I want to gift some firearms to my children. Have legal ownership now. (No pistols. I believe someone has to still have to be 21 before you can gift a handgun.) I’m talking about rifles and shotguns.

    • Thank you for your question Eric, please see the following response from an Independent Program Attorney:

      “Eric, it is legal to gift a firearm, including a handgun, to your children who are age 17 and over. We recommend you keep a record of what firearms were transferred out of your collection, including the make, model, serial number, and who received it. This is not required by Federal law at this time, but it is a good idea in case something happens to the firearm in the future. For example, the firearm is stolen out of the car of the person who you transferred the firearm to, but they neglected to record this identifying information. You can then provide them with the information that they can then give to the police.”

  8. Can I still ‘gift’ a gun to my brother even though we have different last names?

    • Thank you for your question! Please see the response from an Independent Program Attorney:

      “Carlos, yes you can, there is no restriction on gifting a firearm based upon the last name of the recipient.”

  9. you can legally gift a handgun to someone 17 yrs old in Texas

  10. Can I legally gift my 18 old brother a handgun in the state of Texas?

    • Hello Andres, please see a response from an Independent Program Attorney below:

      “Yes, under both Texas and federal law, an 18-year-old can own a handgun. The confusing part about the law regarding age, is that under federal law a person must be 21 years old to purchase a handgun from an FFL dealer.”

  11. I’m 18, and my 22 year old cousin is wanting to buy and gift me a handgun. We just don’t know about or how to go about the process of getting it gifted to me. I’ve been on every official website about gifting handguns and none of them talk about HOW to gift one.

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