It is perfectly legal to give a gun as a gift, but depending on where you live and where the receiver of the gift lives, it can be complicated. Many gun stores sell gift cards that can be given instead of gifting an actual firearm. This is a far less complicated method of gifting a firearm and may be the best option. However, if you want to give an actual firearm, maybe a family heirloom where a gift card will not suffice, then follow these rules to transfer the firearm legally.
Gifts Between Two Floridians.
In the State of Florida, it is perfectly legal to give a gun as a gift. Further, there is no gun registry in this state, so all you have to do is give the gun to the person you want to receive it. That’s it. There is no paperwork that must to be done, to be in compliance with the law.
HOWEVER, It is a good idea to record the transfer. This can be easily accomplished by writing the type of firearm and the serial number on a piece of paper with the date of transfer signed by the gift receiver. If the firearm is later used in a crime or stolen, the giver of the gift will have a record that they no longer possess the firearm.
Gifts to Someone Outside of Florida
It is also legal under Florida law to give a firearm as a gift to a person who lives outside of Florida. Of course, you would have to check the laws in the receivers state to make sure that you stay legal there also. Unfortunately, giving a gun as a gift interstate is a bit more complicated.
The Laws of the Receiver’s State
It is important to know the law of the receiver’s state. Can the person you intend to gift even possess a firearm in their state? Do they need a possession license first? These questions must be asked and answered prior to the transfer of a firearm gift.
A Serious Federal Crime
You cannot directly gift a firearm between two private parties that live in different states. Although you can sell a firearm to someone in another state, the transfer of the firearm must occur through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). In order to accomplish the goal of giving a firearm to a person who is a resident of a state different from your state an FFL in the receiver’s state must be utilized. The firearm must be shipped to an FFL, who will do a background check on the receiver before completing the transfer.
Getting the Gift There
Handguns may not be shipped through the U.S. Mail. The United States Postal Service does not accept handguns at all. However, other common carriers such as United Parcel Service (UPS) and Fedex both ship handguns. All three of the carriers above will ship rifles. Any handgun or rifle shipped, must be unloaded. Further, you must inform the carrier you are shipping a firearm and follow all of their rules and requirements.
Don’t Lie for the Other Guy
Although you can lawfully give a firearm as a gift, you cannot buy a gun for another person. What is the difference? When you give a gift, you pay for it with your own money and you expect nothing in return. On the other hand, if someone is compensating you to get a gun for them it is a crime. If they give you the money to make the purchase or trade you something else of value for purchasing the gun for them, you have participated in a straw man purchase (or straw purchase). Straw purchases violate both federal and state law and are very serious felonies. The ATF has started a campaign called, “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” to educate would be purchasers of the law regarding buying a firearm for another person. An example of an illegal straw purchase would be:
Your neighbor knows you were going to the range to shoot. He asks you to pick out a “good gun” for his kid for Christmas, telling you he knows nothing about guns. He gives you $500 and asks you to bring home whatever you pick out for his son.
If the neighbor went to the gun store and purchased the firearm, then gave it to his son as a gift there would be no problem. However, if you purchase the gun with your neighbor’s money for him to give it as a gift you have participated in a straw man transaction and are subject to up to 5 years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine and so is your neighbor.
Learn more about giving a firearm as a gift to a person under 21.