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Can I Go to Jail For Gifting a Gun?

The following is a video transcript.

With the holiday season upon us, what makes a better gift than a firearm? Here’s what you need to know under federal law.

As long as the recipient is lawfully allowed to possess a firearm, the ATF and the Supreme Court of the United States have repeatedly stated that guns may be purchased and given as gifts. The ATF even explains this process on their firearms transaction record (also known as a form 4473), specifically in question 11a. The form explains that a firearm purchased legitimately as a bona fide gift to a third person does not violate the law.

What about those posters you see in gun stores that say, “Don’t lie for the other guy?” Isn’t buying a firearm for another person illegal? Isn’t that what we call a straw man purchase? Simply put, federal law requires that you be the actual purchaser of the firearm. You can still give a firearm as a gift, but you cannot have a side agreement with a third party to make a purchase on their behalf, and you cannot use that person’s money to buy the gun.

With the purchase out of the way, the next question that comes up is the actual transfer or gift. Under state law, the majority of states allow the transfer of a firearm among residents of the same state, so long as the person isn’t disqualified from possessing a firearm. However, you must use caution. The law regarding the possession and transfer of firearms is not uniform throughout the United States and can vary greatly from state to state. Many states impose age restrictions on private transfers of firearms (typically, 18 years of age, but it could be as high as 21).

Many people have questions about sending a firearm gift to another state. To stay legal, you must have a federal firearms licensee, or FFL to facilitate the transfer and shipment of the gun. This is because it is illegal for you to gift a firearm to a person who is a resident of another state without having an FFL in the receiving party’s state conduct a NICS background check. Sending a firearm (even as a gift) to someone in another state without using an FFL could lead to a serious federal felony and a slew of potential state crimes.

Firearms make great gifts, but there may be some hoops you’ll have to jump through. Some states have restrictions on transfers, registration requirements, and even have outright prohibitions on certain firearms, so take the time to educate yourself to stay on the right side of the law.

If you have any questions about gifting a firearm, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

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