State Minimum Age to Purchase or Possess Guns

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Illinois

Posted on Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Illinois prohibits any person under age 18 from possessing a handgun.1 State law also prohibits any person from knowingly transferring a handgun to any person under age 18.2 However, Illinois also prohibits any person from knowingly transferring a firearm to any person who does not hold a FOID card.3 To obtain a FOID card, an individual must be over 21 years of age or have the written consent of his or her parent or legal guardian to possess and acquire any firearms and ammunition.4 Further, the parent or legal guardian must not be prohibited from obtaining a FOID card.5 Persons under age 21 also do not qualify for a FOID card if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor (other than a traffic offense) or adjudged delinquent.6

Federal law imposes additional restrictions

See our Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3.1(a)(1). []
  2. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(a). []
  3. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a). []
  4. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/4(a)(2)(i). []
  5. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/4(a)(2)(i). []
  6. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/4(a)(2)(i). []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Massachusetts

Posted on Friday, October 3rd, 2014

See our Minimum Age to Purchase / Possess Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

** Please note: Some of the laws referenced on this page were enacted in 2014 and are not yet in effect. Please check the law directly to determine its effective date.

In Massachusetts, generally no one under 18 years of age may purchase a firearm or ammunition, and no one under 21 years of age may purchase a handgun, large capacity weapon or large capacity feeding device.1 Any person selling or furnishing a rifle, shotgun, machine gun or ammunition to any person under age 18 is criminally liable for a felony, as is any person selling or furnishing a handgun or large capacity rifle or shotgun or ammunition for those firearms to anyone under age 21.2

Under certain circumstances, however, minors may possess weapons. Persons “more than 14 but less than 18 years of age” may apply for a Firearm Identification Card (“FID”) if the applicant submits a certificate from his or her parent or guardian granting the applicant permission to apply for a FID. A FID will not issue to a minor until he or she reaches 15 years of age. This exception allows persons 15 years of age and older to possess rifles and shotguns. ((Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 129B.))

In addition, a 2014 law allows someone to furnish a weapon to a minor for hunting, recreation, instruction and participation in shooting sports if the minor is supervised by a someone with a valid FID or license to carry, provided the minor’s parent or guardian has consented.3 Applicants for a license to carry a handgun must be at least 21 years of age.4

  1. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§ 130, 131E(a). []
  2. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 130. []
  3. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 130 1/2. []
  4. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131. []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Delaware

Posted on Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Delaware prohibits the purchase, ownership or possession of a handgun by a “juvenile” except for the purposes of engaging in lawful hunting, instruction, sporting or recreational activity while under the direct or indirect supervision of an adult.1 There is no minimum age to possess long guns under Delaware or federal law.

Delaware law prohibits the sale of a handgun or other deadly weapon “made especially for the defense of one’s person” to a person under age 21.2 Delaware also prohibits the sale or transfer of any firearm or ammunition to a person under age 18 unless the transferor is the minor’s parent or guardian or a person who first receives permission from the minor’s parent or guardian.3

See our Minimum Age to Purchase / Possess Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448(a)(5). The term “juvenile” is not defined under Delaware law, although state law notes that any person who attains age 18 is deemed to be of full legal age for “all purposes whatsoever.” Del. Code Ann. tit. 1, § 701. []
  2. Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, §§ 901, 903. []
  3. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1445(4). []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in New Jersey

Posted on Monday, September 29th, 2014

No person under the age of 18 shall purchase, barter or otherwise acquire a firearm, and no person under the age of 21 shall purchase, barter or otherwise acquire a handgun (unless the person is authorized to possess a handgun in connection with the performance of official duties).1 Permits to purchase a handgun will not be issued to any person under age 21, while Firearms Purchaser Identification Cards (FPIC) – for long guns – will not be issued to any person under age 18.2

New Jersey also prohibits any person under the age of 18 from possessing, carrying, firing or using a firearm, and no person under the age of 21 from possessing, carrying, firing or using a handgun, except:

  • In the actual presence or under the direct supervision of his or her parent, guardian, or a person who holds a permit to carry a handgun or a FPIC; or
  • For the purpose of a military drill supervised by a recognized military organization, lawful and supervised competition or target practice, or lawful hunting when the gun possessor has a valid hunting license and has successfully completed a recognized hunter’s safety course.3

New Jersey imposes harsh penalties, including a mandatory minimum prison term of three years without parole, on any person who knowingly sells, gives, transfers, assigns or otherwise disposes of a firearm to a person under age 18.4

New Jersey prohibits any person from selling, giving, transferring, assigning or otherwise disposing of handgun ammunition to a person under age 21.5

See our Minimum Age to Purchase and Possess policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-6.1a. For additional exceptions, see N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-6. []
  2. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3c(4). []
  3. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-6.1b. []
  4. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-10e. []
  5. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-3.3c. []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in North Dakota

Posted on Saturday, June 9th, 2012

A person under the age of 18 may not possess a handgun except while under the direct supervision of an adult for purposes of firearm safety training, target shooting, or hunting.1 It is a misdemeanor to sell, barter, hire, lend, or give a handgun to a “minor,” except while the minor is under the direct supervision of an adult and for the purpose of firearm safety training, target shooting, or hunting.2

There is no minimum age to possess rifles and shotguns in North Dakota.3 North Dakota also does not penalize sales or transfers of long guns to minors.

Federal age restrictions impose stricter limits.

See our Minimum Age to Purchase / Possess Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. N.D. Cent. Code § 62.1-02-01. []
  2. N.D. Cent. Code § 62.1-03-02. []
  3. Id. []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Alabama

Posted on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Alabama law prohibits any person from selling, giving or lending a handgun to any person under age 18.1 Alabama law also prohibits the delivery of a handgun to any person under the age of 18.2

Federal age restrictions impose stricter limits.

See our Minimum Age to Purchase / Possess Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Ala. Code § 13A-11-57. See also Ala. Code § 13A-11-76 (defining minor as a person under age 18). []
  2. Ala. Code § 13A-11-76. However, Ala. Code § 13A-11-76 does not apply to the sale of handguns as curiosities or ornaments. Ala. Code § 13A-11-83. []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Alaska

Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Alaska prohibits any unemancipated minor under age 16 from possessing a firearm without the consent of his or her parent or guardian.1

Alaska also prohibits any person from knowingly selling a firearm to anyone under age 18.2

Federal age restrictions impose stricter limits.

See our Minimum Age to Purchase / Possess Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Alaska Stat. § 11.61.220(a)(3). []
  2. Alaska Stat. § 11.61.210(a)(6). []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Arizona

Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Arizona prohibits any person from selling or giving a firearm or ammunition or a toy pistol from which dangerous and explosive substances may be discharged to a person under age 18 without written consent of the minor’s parent or legal guardian.1

Arizona law prohibits an unemancipated person under age 18 from knowingly carrying or possessing a firearm on his person, within his immediate control, or in or on a means of transportation, in any place that is open to the public or on any street or highway or on any private property (except private property owned or leased by the minor or the minor’s parent, grandparent or guardian). This prohibition does not apply if the minor is accompanied by a parent, grandparent, or guardian, or a certified hunter safety instructor or certified firearms safety instructor acting with the consent of the unemancipated person’s parent or guardian.2

Arizona places no additional restrictions on the purchase or possession of handguns, although federal age restrictions still apply.

See our Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess Policy Summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3109(A). Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 1-215(22) defines “minor” as a person under 18. The prohibition under Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3109(A) does not apply to the temporary transfer of firearms and ammunition by firearms safety instructors, hunter safety instructors, or competition coaches or their assistants, if the minor’s parent or guardian has given consent for the minor to participate in activities such as firearms or hunting safety courses, firearms competition, or training. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3109(C). With the consent of the minor’s parent or guardian, the temporary transfer of firearms and ammunition by an adult accompanying minors engaged in hunting or formal or informal target shooting activities is allowed for those purposes. []
  2. Ariz. Rev. Stat.§ 13-3111(A). This prohibition also does not apply to a person who is 14 to 17 years of age and who is:

    • Engaged in lawful hunting or shooting events or marksmanship practice at an established range or other area where the discharge of a firearm is not prohibited;
    • Engaged in lawful transportation of an unloaded firearm for the purpose of lawful hunting;
    • Engaged in lawful transportation of an unloaded firearm between the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. for the purpose of a shooting event or marksmanship practice at an established range or other area where the discharge of a firearm is not prohibited; or
    • Engaged in an activity requiring the use of a firearm that is related to the production of crops, livestock, poultry, livestock products, poultry products, or ratites or in the production or storage of agricultural commodities. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3111(B). []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Arkansas

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

With some exceptions, Arkansas prohibits any person under age 18 from possessing a handgun.1

In Arkansas, any person furnishing a firearm to a minor under 18 years of age without the consent of a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for general supervision of the minor’s welfare, is criminally liable for a Class A misdemeanor.2 The crime becomes a Class B felony if the firearm is a handgun or other specified firearm.3

There is no minimum age to possess rifles and shotguns in Arkansas. Federal age restrictions impose stricter limits.

See our Minimum Age to Purchase / Possess Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Ark. Code Ann. §§ 5-73-119(a)(1), (e). []
  2. Ark. Code Ann. §§ 5-73-101(9), 5-73-109(a). []
  3. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-109(b). []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in California

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Minimum age for sales and transfers: California prohibits any person, corporation or firm from selling a handgun to anyone under age 21, and from selling, loaning, or transferring any firearm to a “minor.”1 While California law does not define the term “minor”, this term appears to mean persons under age 18 when read in context with other laws.2

Minimum age for possession: California law prohibits minors from possessing a handgun.3 Exceptions to this prohibition include situations where a parent or legal guardian is present or has consented to the possession.4 In addition, minors may possess handguns when engaged in certain recreational sports, including, but not limited to, competitive shooting; agricultural, ranching, or hunting activities; and any motion picture, television, or video production, or entertainment or theatrical events, the nature of which involves the use of a firearm.5

There is no minimum age to possess rifles and shotguns in California, although federal age restrictions still apply.

See our Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

For age restrictions governing ammunition, see the Ammunition Regulation in California section.

For other provisions related to children and firearms, see the Child Access Prevention in California section.

  1. Cal. Penal Code § 27505(a), (b). []
  2. See e.g., Cal. Penal Code §§ 30300 (ammunition may not be sold to any purchaser under age 18), 31625 (a person must be at least age 18 to obtain a Handgun Safety Certificate). []
  3. Cal. Penal Code § 29610. []
  4. Cal. Penal Code § 29615. []
  5. Id. []