You just left the store with your brand-new gun when a thought crosses your mind: “do I need to register my gun?”
The answer to this is simple: no, you do not need to register your gun. There is no gun registry in Texas or on the federal level, so there is nowhere for you to register your gun.
Texas does not have a firearm registry, and the Coronavirus has not changed this fact. You are under no obligation to register your new firearm in Texas, and no mechanism exists to report your purchase to the state—even if you wanted to!
You will want to write down the make, model, and serial number of the firearm and keep a copy of the purchase receipt for your own records. This way, if the firearm is ever lost or stolen, you will have this information to provide to law enforcement.
Without this information, the likelihood of getting your gun back is very low; because law enforcement may recover it, but they won’t know to whom it belongs.
What About Private Sales?
Does the answer change if you purchase the gun in a private sale or the gun is gifted to you? No.
Even if you purchase the firearm in a private sale or you are given the gun as a gift, you are not required to register it. But, same as before, you’ll want to keep the make, model, and serial number of the firearm somewhere safe for your records.
If the gun is purchased in a private sale, it is a good idea to make a bill of sale to memorialize the transaction. The bill of sale should include the make, model, and serial number of the firearm, as well as the buyer’s and seller’s information.
Can a Firearm be Traced Back to Me if I Buy it From a Gun Store?
Maybe. It is true that when you purchase a gun from a Federal Firearms License dealer (“FFL”), the gun could be linked to you as the original purchaser. However, FFLs are not required to keep records forever—and are only required to keep a copy of the ATF Form 4473 for 20 years.
This is why it is your responsibility to keep track of guns that come into or leave your possession.
If you have any questions about buying or selling a firearm, call Texas LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.