How to Buy a Gun as a Gift

How to Buy a Gun as a Gift
photo from mrt.comweb photo

For many of us, the gifts that would suit most of the people on our shopping list come with a trigger. Here's how to do it properly.

This story from mrt.com does a great job of summing up everything you have to consider if you plan to give someone the gift of a gun this holiday season.

The first question many face: is it even legal to buy a gun for someone else? We’ve all heard about straw purchases, so is it at all legal to buy a gun for someone else?

The short answer is yes, you can buy a gun as a gift for another person under federal law—but the person being given the firearm has to be legally allowed to own one. That’s the big difference between a gift and a straw purchase. Also, you can’t receive compensation from the person being given the firearm—in other words, it has to be a gift.

Make sure you check your state and local laws before embarking on this venture, as some firearms may require an FFL for a legal transfer, depending on where you live, especially if it's a handgun.

The folks at mrt.com talked to the owners of SK Arms in Midland, Texas to explain what people need to know before buying a gun for a gift. CEO Kane Kolisek said purchasers must first pass the "sniff test" before they even get to the NICS background check.

"As soon as you say you're purchasing for someone else, we're going to start asking questions just to ensure that a straw purchase isn't going to take place," Kolisek said in the story. "We have the responsibility to not sell someone a gun regardless of whether or not they pass a background check if they don't pass our 'sniff test.'"

Kolisek says that being on the phone while gun shopping is a big red flag.

"We recently had someone looking at some AR-15 (lower receivers) while wearing an earbud. He'd ask a question, I'd answer it, and then he'd start talking on the phone and ask about another one. That raises red flag because it's clearly not for you. It's one thing to get information from a buddy that has more knowledge…but to basically relay our information over the phone, we're not going to proceed with that out of an abundance of caution," he said in the story.

Kolisek offered the following tips in the story to help things go a little more smoothly for the giver and the giftee.

  • Don't plan on making a return: some stores will accept returns on firearms and ammo, but many do not. Make sure to check before purchase.

  • You can always go to your favorite gun shop and buy a gift card instead of an actual firearm.

  • Research: ask the recipient what they want, talk to people the hunt with or shoot with, and pump their mom for information, the same way you would for any other gift idea.

  • Talk to the staff: as long as you aren't being cagey or wired for sound, most people behind the gun counter are more than happy to answer all your questions.

  • Another option is to surprise the recipient in the story. Bring them in and have the gun ready and waiting for them at the counter. Plus, it's a last chance to make sure you got them what they wanted.

  • There's always accessories: guns aren't the only gift gun people covet. There's weapon lights, iron sights, scopes, slings, and a million other add-ons that don't require paperwork or background checks. And most of those items can be returned with a receipt if they're not exactly right.

For the full story from mrt.com, go here. For a detailed explanation of the process, see the National Shooting Sports Foundation's "Giving a Firearm as a Gift" page.