How do you legally own and carry a gun if you're 18-20 years old?
Firearm ownership laws vary from state to state, but many Americans can possess and transport a firearm at an earlier age than 21 years old. And in this day and age, it’s good to own a firearm as early as legally possible, learn how to use it, and understand the laws when it comes to the transportation of firearms. Before you read further, understand this article is about legally owning and possessing a gun as an adult under 21, not as a juvenile. Handling firearms for juveniles is a discussion between the juvenile and parents or legal guardians.
In some states, firearm ownership can start with long guns at the age of 18. In other states, a citizen may not be able to purchase any gun until they are 21, however, they can own a firearm from 18-21. How confusing right? What many citizens are also not aware of is that people under the age of 21 or those without a handgun carry permit can have guns in their motor vehicle or on the way to and from hunting as well as shooting sports events, for example.
One of the biggest pieces of legislature that all gun owners should be aware of is the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA). To sum up FOPA, this legal document allows for law-abiding citizens to transport an unloaded firearm from one place to another as long as the destination is also a legal place where the citizen can carry the gun. This is to include the transportation of the firearm through any route regardless of state or local laws that are along the route that do not allow for the carrying of firearms. The key to this law is that any gun(s) being transported should be unloaded, cased, or not readily accessible.
Many firearms instructors will teach students younger than 21 in their classes. It’s never too early or too late to get educated about firearms even if you know a lot already. Each instructor is different and has a different perspective or lessons they can teach you.
With so many different shooting disciplines available, there’s a shooting competition for everyone. The governing bodies that made the rules do have age minimums in place for safety reasons, but most shooting competitions do not require you to be 18 and over to go out and compete. Competitions can help grow your accuracy under stressful conditions, improve upon your draw from a holster, and build your confidence as a shooter.
From 18 to 21, citizens should be preparing to carry concealed or open if their state allows for it. Begin choosing a handgun that you would be comfortable carrying every day. Determine how you plan to carry concealed as well as what holster system you will use when the time comes to do so. Start practicing situational awareness and assessing each room you walk into. The mindset for concealed carry can grow long before it’s legal to carry.
Just because you can’t carry a gun on your person yet doesn’t mean you can’t have a gun in your home for defensive situations. Work out a plan with your parents, roommates, or significant other on what you plan to do if an intruder comes into your home. Stage loaded firearms (safely) in your home and carry a gun on your body as you move about your home.
Don’t delay when it comes to firearm ownership, taking a concealed carry permit class if it’s required, and actually going to apply for your permit. The rights we as Americans have are being infringed upon and will continue to be, so speak up now and take advantage of your rights as soon as you are legally able to do so.
Kenzie Fitzpatrick is a professional competitive shooter and an active blogger for many firearm websites. As an NRA-certified instructor and National Range Officer Institute Chief Range Officer, Kenzie trains new shooters on basic firearm safety, brings new shooters to competitive shooting, and works major matches across the country. She has a passion for teaching people how to concealed carry and is a positive ambassador for the Second Amendment.
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