State Minimum Age to Purchase or Possess Guns

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Missouri

Posted on Friday, January 30th, 2015

Missouri prohibits “recklessly” selling, leasing, loaning, giving away or delivering any firearm to a person under age 18 without the consent of the child’s custodial parent or guardian.1

Missouri prohibits anyone from violating the federal law prohibiting a person under age 18 from possessing a handgun or handgun ammunition and prohibiting anyone from selling or transferring a handgun or handgun ammunition to a person under age 18.2

Federal law imposes stricter age restrictions in certain situations.

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

  1. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.060.1(2). A person “acts recklessly” or is reckless under Missouri law when he or she consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or that a result will follow, and such disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would exercise in the situation. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 562.016.4 []
  2. See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.080, which refers to 18 U.S.C. § 922(x). []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in New Hampshire

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2015

New Hampshire provides no minimum age for the possession of firearms, and does not penalize sale of a long gun to a minor, although federal age restrictions still apply. New Hampshire prohibits any person from transferring a handgun to a person under the age of 18,1 and transferring ammunition of any kind to a person under the age of 16, other than to his or her own child, grandchild, or ward.2

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

  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:12. This section does not apply to: 1) parents, grandparents, guardians, administrators and executors giving a revolver to their children, wards, or heirs to an estate; 2) firearm safety instructors during a training program, with the parent or guardian’s permission; 3) licensed hunters accompanying a minor while lawfully hunting; and 4) individuals supervising minors using firearms during a lawful shooting event or activity. Id. []
  2. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 644:15. This prohibition does not apply to: 1) individuals instructing children in the safe use of firearms during a supervised firearms training program, if the child’s parent or guardian has granted permission for the child to participate in the program; 2) licensed hunters accompanying children while lawfully taking wildlife; and 3) individuals supervising children using firearms during a lawful shooting event or activity. Id. []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Pennsylvania

Posted on Monday, January 26th, 2015

Subject to certain exceptions, a person under the age of 18 may not possess or transport a firearm anywhere in Pennsylvania.1 This prohibition does not apply to a minor who is under the supervision of a parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or an adult acting with the permission of the minor’s parent or legal guardian and the minor is engaged in lawful activity, such as safety training, target shooting, or organized firearm competition. In addition, the prohibition does not apply to a minor who is lawfully hunting or trapping in accordance with the Game and Wildlife Code.2

Any person who knowingly and intentionally delivers or provides a firearm to a minor commits a felony of the third degree and the firearm is subject to seizure by law enforcement.3 Pennsylvania law also prohibits any person from selling or leasing any deadly weapon or cartridge to any person under age 18.4

Federal age restrictions impose stricter limits.

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

  1. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6110.1(a). []
  2. 34 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 101 et seq. []
  3. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6110.1(c), (d). []
  4. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6302. This prohibition does not apply to hunting by minors in accordance with the Game and Wildlife Code, 34 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 101 et seq. []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in California

Posted on Monday, January 12th, 2015

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.” This prohibition does not apply in certain scenarios, including the sale of a handgun that is an “antique firearm” to a person at least 18 years of age, and the transfer or loan of a long gun to a minor by the minor’s parent or legal guardian.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, with the consent of a parent or guardian, 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. All other exceptions are laid out in this section. []
  2. See e.g., Cal. Penal Code § 30300(a)(1), which states that ammunition may not be sold to any purchaser under age 18, and Cal. Penal Code § 31625(b), which states that a person must be at least age 18 to obtain a Firearm Safety Certificate. []
  3. Cal. Penal Code § 29610. []
  4. Cal. Penal Code § 29615. []
  5. Id. []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Washington

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014

In Washington, a person under age 18 may not own or possess a firearm, unless he or she is:

  • In attendance at a hunter’s safety course or a firearms safety course;
  • Engaging in practice in the use of a firearm or target shooting at an established range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction in which such range is located or any other area where the discharge of a firearm is not prohibited;
  • Engaging in an organized competition involving the use of a firearm;
  • Participating in or practicing for a performance by an organized group that uses firearms as a part of the performance;
  • Hunting or trapping under a valid license;
  • In an area where the discharge of a firearm is permitted, when the individual is not trespassing and is either:

At least 14 years of age, having been issued a hunter safety certificate, and using a lawful firearm other than a handgun; or
Under the supervision of a parent, guardian, or other adult approved for the purpose by the parent or guardian;

  • Traveling with an unloaded firearm to or from any activity described above;
  • On real property under the control of his or her parent, other relative, or legal guardian and has permission of the parent or legal guardian to possess a firearm;
  • At his or her residence and, with the permission of his or her parent or legal guardian, in possession of a firearm for the purpose of lawful self-defense, defense of others, or defense of property; or
  • A member of the armed forces of the United States, National Guard, or organized reserves, when on duty.1

Washington law provides that, unless one of the above exceptions applies,2 persons who are at least 18 years of age, but under age 21 may possess a handgun only:3

  • In the person’s “place of abode;”
  • At the person’s fixed place of business; or
  • On real property under his or her control.

In addition, an applicant for a concealed pistol license must be 21 years of age or older.4

Federal age restrictions impose stricter limits.

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

  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 9.41.040(2)(a)(iii), 9.41.042. []
  2. See Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 9.41.050 or 9.41.060 for additional exceptions. []
  3. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.240. []
  4. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.070(1)(c). []

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. []