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Handgun Ownership at Age 18 – Revisited

Question:  I am 18 and interested in purchasing a handgun from a private seller.  I was told by a police officer and a gun shop that I cannot buy or a have a handgun unless I am 21 regardless of who I got it from (private seller or federally licensed firearms dealer).  They also told me that I could only use a handgun at the range or when I am hunting and must be accompanied by an adult.  Is this true?  If not, can I open carry where it is legal to carry a firearm?  Where can I find clear law about this situation?  I also called the BATF and the man I spoke to said I needed to have a written letter of consent from a parent who could own a handgun, but he was unsure.  Is that true as well?

Answer:  Wow…lots of questions here, some of which I have answered in a previous post.  Something that becomes very clear from this question is that there is a lot of misinformation and confusion regarding the laws surrounding handgun ownership between the ages of 18 and 21.

First, the comments that you got from the police officer and gun store were partly true.  You must be 21 years of age to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed firearms dealer.  Many people think that the same age limit extends to private party sales.  It does not.  You can legally purchase a handgun through a private party sale at age 18.

Second, the comments about having to be accompanied by an adult are based in fact.  For a person between 14 and 18 years of age, they can be in possession of a firearm under a set of limited circumstances, but must be accompanied by an adult.  If they are not, they must be in possession of written permission from a parent or guardian stating that they have the gun with permission.  This permission can only be granted by the parent or guardian if they can legally own a firearm.  So you see, the answers you got from BATF, the police officer and gun store were correct, except they have the age wrong.  Those rules only apply if you are not yet 18 years of age.  The specific details of the law are covered in the link to ARS 13-3111 below.

Third, since you can legally own a handgun at age 18, you are also permitted to legally carry it openly in Arizona.  This open carry only applies in places where it would be legal for you to have a firearm.  You cannot carry concealed and cannot get a concealed weapons permit until you are 21 years old in Arizona.  By the way, while I encourage legal open carry, you might want to be a little circumspect about where and when you openly carry.  As you can see from the confusion about the law that you have already encountered, you may be opening yourself up to conversations with law enforcement about your age and ability to legally possess a firearm.

If you’d like to take a look at my previous post, I think you might find some good information there.  Here is the link:

http://www.arizonaccwguide.com/2008/05/31/handgun-carry-in-arizona-between-the-age-of-18-and-21-years-of-age/

Finally, you asked about the specific law.  It is

ARS 13-3111. Minors prohibited from carrying or possessing firearms; exceptions; seizure and forfeiture; penalties; classification

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Aaron says:

    can you tell me which law statest that i can buy a firearm from a private owner at the age of 18?

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