How to Get a Gun License: 6 Requirements for Buying a Gun

The requirements for buying a gun are vast and varied and  depends significantly on the state in you which reside. If you’ve performed even basic research on the matter of how to get a gun license, you’ve probably already realized that there’s a lot of information that isn’t always easy to understand.

Some states don’t require individuals who want to buy a gun to acquire a license at all.

Keep reading for the six general requirements you need to know about how to get a gun license, including how to determine what requirements to own a gun are mandatory where you live.

Do your research

The first step to figuring out if you need a license to own a gun is to do your research—and plenty of it. You’ll need to take a close look at the laws in your particular state regarding gun ownership and associated licensing requirements.

For instance, the states of Illinois, Hawaii, and Massachusetts require that residents obtain a license to own any kind of gun, handgun, rifle, or otherwise. On the other side of the spectrum, you have states like Connecticut, California, Michigan, North Carolina, and New York that only require you to get a license for a handgun.

There are also states that require gun owners to obtain a license for every gun they own, while others only care about whether or not the actual owner has a license.

You should be aware that some states have various laws for how to get a gun license based on the type of gun you want to purchase. For example, your state could have certain laws about the permit required to own a hunting rifle, and another set of laws for owning concealed firearms or handguns. Likewise, there are a number of states that ban residents from owning particular types of firearms under any circumstances.

The best way to confirm the requirements to own a gun in your state is to check out your state police website. The website of your state police will include a wealth of information, forms, and applicable links regarding how to get a gun license. Sometimes, these websites also feature links to the actual permit application to help streamline the licensing process.

You can seek the advice of a representative at your local gun shop as well to see what information they can provide about the requirements to own a gun in your state.

If you’ve been wondering how much is a concealed carry permit, the short answer is—it completely depends. The gun permit fees nationwide vary widely based on the state.

For example, current Alaska law states that the fee for a gun permit can’t exceed $99, but it is regulated to be set at $40. In Arkansas, it costs $141.50 to obtain your gun permit. In Alabama, it comes down to the county you’re in, with the permit fees ranging from $10 to $30.

Thoroughly research the laws in your state, so that when the time comes to apply, you know what to expect.

Understand the limitations on obtaining a gun license

If you’re looking into the requirements for buying a gun, you also need to understand that there are certain limitations on who may and may not obtain a gun license. When you apply for your license, you will be required to submit to a background check to determine if you are barred by federal law from acquiring firearms. Individuals prohibited from owning a gun include:

  • Drug users
  • Individuals who have previously been convicted of a serious criminal offense
  • Mentally ill individuals
  • People who are fugitives from justice
  • Individuals who have renounced citizenship
  • Illegal aliens
  • People dishonorably discharged from the armed services
  • Individuals with restraining orders out against them
  • People who have previously been convicted of domestic violence

Complete a safety course

Once you have undergone a background check and passed successfully, you will need to complete a gun safety course. Certain states mandate that prospective gun owners take the safety course before they will issue their license.

Whether or not a safety course is mandatory in your state, it is a wise idea to take one if you will be purchasing your very first gun. The vast majority of gun safety courses require students to prove a certain level of ability to use their firearm as well. Also, it is important to remember to pack your gun in a gun range bag while traveling to the course.

Have your fingerprints taken

Another one of the requirements for buying a gun that you may need to fulfill is to get your fingerprints taken. If fingerprinting is required in your state in order to obtain a permit, go to your local law enforcement entity to complete this portion of the process. Often, the Sheriff’s office will take care of fingerprinting matters.

Submit your application

Next, it’s finally time to go ahead and submit your application. Along with your application, you must furnish proof (if required) that you completed the gun safety course and supply your fingerprints.

If your state mandates any other requirements or documentation, you will need to fulfill these as well in order for your application to process. Finally, you will have to submit payment along with your application. 

Maintain your license

Once your license comes in the mail, then, and only then, should you go out and purchase your firearm. Depending on what gun licensing requirements are mandated in your state, you may be obliged to have your permit on you constantly. Other states will let you keep a copy of the license in your car or just store it in the case that you transport your firearm in.

Quite a few states across the country further require licensed gun owners to renew their licenses every so often to ensure the owner remains able and competent to wield a firearm. Most renewal periods are anywhere from 3 to 5 years at a time, and typically involve another round of gun safety coursework and fingerprinting.

FAQs About How to Get a Gun License

What are the steps involved in obtaining a gun license?

The exact steps for obtaining a gun license vary depending on the country and state or province. However, in general, the process involves completing an application, providing personal information, undergoing a background check, and passing a firearms safety test. Some jurisdictions may also require applicants to obtain character references and undergo a mental health evaluation.

What are the requirements for obtaining a gun license?

The requirements for obtaining a gun license vary depending on the jurisdiction. Generally, applicants must be legal adults, have no criminal history or mental health issues, and pass a firearms safety course or test. They must also provide personal information, such as their name, address, and date of birth, and submit to a background check.

How long does it typically take to obtain a gun license?

The time it takes to obtain a gun license varies depending on the jurisdiction and the complexity of the application process. In some cases, it may take only a few weeks, while in others, it could take several months.

What types of firearms can be obtained with a gun license?

The types of firearms that can be obtained with a gun license vary depending on the jurisdiction. Generally, gun licenses allow holders to possess and purchase firearms for personal protection, hunting, and sports shooting. Some jurisdictions may have restrictions on the types of firearms that can be purchased, such as limiting the number of firearms or banning certain types of firearms.

Are there any training requirements for obtaining a gun license?

Many jurisdictions require applicants for a gun license to complete a firearms safety course or pass a firearms safety test. The requirements for these courses may vary depending on the jurisdiction, but they typically cover topics such as gun safety, handling, and storage.

Final thoughts

While the process of getting a gun license may be lengthy, it’s an essential step in becoming a responsible and legal gun owner.


About the Author

Trey is a lifelong hunter and avid camper. He lives outside Denver, CO with his wife Kaci and their lab mix Ziggy. They spend as much time as possible outdoors - hunting, fishing, and camping.

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