State Minimum Age to Purchase or Possess Guns

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in New York

Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2015

New York law prohibits anyone under age 21 from obtaining a license to possess or carry a handgun.1

Persons under the age of 16 generally may not possess any firearms or ammunition in New York.2

New York penalizes transferring a firearm to a person who is or reasonably appears to be less than nineteen years of age if the seller is not legally authorized to possess a firearm.3

Federal age restrictions impose stricter limits.

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

  1. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(1)(a). Honorably discharged U.S. military or New York National Guard personnel are excluded. Id. []
  2. N.Y. Penal Law § 265.05. This law does not apply to the possession of a rifle or shotgun (or the appropriate ammunition) by the holder of a hunting license or permit used in accordance with state law. Id. In addition, persons between the ages of 12 and 15 may use and possess firearms (not including assault weapons) at a shooting range if under the “immediate supervision, guidance and instruction” of a military officer, certified instructor, parent, guardian, or otherwise qualified person as provided by statute. N.Y. Penal Law § 265.20(a)(7), (16). []
  3. N.Y. Penal Law § 265.16. []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in California

Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 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 The California Family Code defines the term “minor” to mean an individual who is under 18 years of age. 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 Cal. Fam. Code § 6500 See also, 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 Massachusetts

Posted on Monday, September 21st, 2015

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

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 New Jersey

Posted on Monday, September 21st, 2015

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 Ohio

Posted on Monday, September 21st, 2015

Ohio law prohibits the purchase of a firearm by any person under age 18, and the purchase of a handgun by any person under age 21.1 Ohio law also generally prohibits selling or furnishing a firearm to a person under age 18, or a handgun to a person under age 21.2

Ohio provides no minimum age for the possession of firearms, although federal age restrictions still apply.

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

  1. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.211(A), (B). []
  2. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.21(A)(1)-(3). []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Pennsylvania

Posted on Monday, September 21st, 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 Illinois

Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2015

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 Wisconsin

Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Wisconsin generally prohibits the intentional transfer of any firearm to an individual under age 18.1

The state also generally prohibits the possession of a firearm by any person under age 18.2

These restrictions do not apply, however, when the firearm is being used by a person under age 18 when supervised by an adult during target practice or a course of instruction.3

Wisconsin law generally provides that for hunting purposes, the minimum age for possession or control of a firearm is age 12.4 A person age 12 but under age 14 may not hunt without being accompanied by his or her parent, guardian or a person at least 18 years of age who is designated by the parent or guardian.5 A young person 12 to 14 years of age also may possess a firearm if he or she is enrolled in instruction under the state hunter education program and is carrying the firearm in a case, unloaded, to or from that class, or is handling or operating the firearm during that class under the supervision of an instructor.6

Federal age restrictions also apply.

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

  1. Wis. Stat. § 948.60(2)(b). []
  2. Wis. Stat. § 948.60(2)(a). These restrictions only apply to a person under age 18 who possesses or is armed with a rifle or a shotgun if the firearm is a short-barreled rifle or short-barreled shotgun, or if the person is not in compliance with the hunting regulations set forth in Wis. Stat. §§ 29.304 and 29.593. []
  3. Wis. Stat. § 948.60(3). []
  4. Wis. Stat. § 29.304(1)(a). []
  5. Wis. Stat. § 29.304(2). []
  6. Wis. Stat. § 29.304(2)(b)2. For additional information on restricting the use of firearms by persons under age 16, see section 29.304(2), (3), and (5). []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in the District of Columbia

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

Generally, no person under age 21 may obtain a registration certificate, which prevents such individuals from lawfully possessing a firearm (see the District of Columbia Background Checks section and the section entitled District of Columbia Prohibited Purchasers Generally for further information).1 The Chief of Police may, however, issue a registration certificate to an applicant between the ages of 18 and 21 years old, who is otherwise qualified, if the application is accompanied by a notarized statement of the applicant’s parent or guardian verifying that:

  • The applicant has the permission of his or her parent or guardian to own and use the firearm to be registered; and
  • The parent or guardian assumes civil liability for all damages resulting from the actions of the applicant in the use of the firearm to be registered.2

District regulations prohibit the possession of any firearm by a person under age 18.3

The District generally prohibits the sale of any handgun to a purchaser under age 21.4 Moreover, any person who knowingly or intentionally transfers a firearm or ammunition to a person under age 18 is criminally liable for a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 10 years.5

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

  1. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2502.03(a)(1). []
  2. Id. Such registration certificate expires on the person’s 21st birthday. []
  3. D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 24, § 2301.1. []
  4. D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4507. []
  5. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2507.06(1). See also D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 24, § 2302.1, 2302.3 (generally prohibiting the transfer of any firearm or ammunition to a person under age 18). []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Idaho

Posted on Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Idaho prohibits any person under age 18 from possessing any handgun.1 In addition, anyone under age 18 is prohibited from possessing a weapon (defined under state law to include any “pistol, revolver or gun”) unless he or she: 1) has the written permission of his or her parent or guardian to possess the weapon; or 2) is accompanied by his or her parent or guardian while he or she possesses the weapon.2 Any person under age 12 in possession of a weapon must be accompanied by an adult.3

The possession prohibitions concerning minors do not apply to any:

  • Patron firing at a lawfully operated target concession at an amusement park or similar location, provided that the firearm to be used is firmly chained or affixed to the counter;
  • Person in attendance at a hunter’s safety course or a firearms safety course, including while traveling to or from these activities with an unloaded firearm;
  • Person engaging in practice or any other lawful use of a firearm at an established range or any other area where the discharge of a firearm is not prohibited by state or local law, including while traveling to or from these locations with an unloaded firearm;
  • Person engaging in an organized competition involving the use of a firearm, or participating in or practicing for such competition, including while traveling to or from these activities with an unloaded firearm;
  • Minor under age 18 who is on real property with the permission of the owner, licensee, or lessee of the property and who has the permission of a parent or legal guardian or the owner, licensee, or lessee to possess a firearm not otherwise in violation of the law, including while traveling to or from the location with an unloaded firearm; or
  • Resident or non-resident hunters with a valid hunting license or other persons who are lawfully engaged in hunting, including while traveling to or from such hunting activities with an unloaded firearm.4

In addition, no person under age 12 shall have in his or her possession any shotgun, rifle or other firearm while in the fields or forests or in any tent, camp, auto or any other vehicle in the state of Idaho, except that the holder of a youth small game license or youth hunter education graduate license, if accompanied by an adult licensed to hunt in Idaho, may possess a firearm for hunting while in the fields or forests.5

State law provides that:

The sheriff of a county may issue a license to carry a concealed weapon to those individuals between the ages of eighteen (18) and twenty-one (21) years who in the judgment of the sheriff warrant the issuance of the license to carry a concealed weapon. Such issuance shall be subject to limitations which the issuing authority deems appropriate. Licenses issued to individuals between the ages of eighteen (18) and twenty-one (21) years shall be easily distinguishable from regular licenses.6

Federal law prohibits the sale by a licensed firearms dealer of a handgun or handgun ammunition to anyone under age 21.7 This provision does not prohibit private sellers (sellers not federally licensed) from selling handguns and handgun ammunition to persons under age 21, however.

For additional information, see the Idaho Trafficking section.

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

  1. Idaho Code Ann. § 18-3302F(1). []
  2. Idaho Code Ann. § 18-3302E(1); see also Idaho Code Ann. § 18-3302A. []
  3. Idaho Code Ann. § 18-3302E(2). []
  4. Idaho Code Ann. § 18-3302G. []
  5. Idaho Code Ann. § 36-1508(b). []
  6. Idaho Code Ann. § 18-3302(11). []
  7. 18 U.S.C. § 922(b)(1), (c)(1). []