New to Gun Ownership? Know the Law

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on July 10, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You've just purchased a new firearm and depending on your state, you've sat out any mandatory waiting period required by law between purchase and gun ownership.

At this point, you're the lawful owner of a gun (assuming you bought it legally and got a permit if your state requires it, right?). But that doesn't mean you can necessarily start using it right away. State laws on guns are strict and violating those laws could mean a hefty fine or some jail time.

Before you take it out for a test drive, check these tips to ensure that you don't run afoul of the law when you're enjoying recreational shooting.

Below are three quick ways to protect yourself as a gun owner and make sure the law stays on your side.

1. Get a permit.

Some states require a permit to carry a handgun in public. Almost all of them require a concealed weapons permit. To get a permit, you generally have to show up in person to apply and have a photo ID ready.

If you plan to go hunting, you may need a license for that too. A hunting license may require just an application or it may include a course on hunter safety.

Check the laws in your state to make sure your permits are up to date.

2. Register your gun.

If you live in a state like California, you have to register some or all of the guns you own. In most states, registration is only required for handguns but it may be necessary for other firearms as well.

A gun should automatically be registered with the state when it's purchased at a licensed dealership. But it may not be in a private sale or if you move into a state that requires registration and bring your firearms.

3. Keep it safe.

You're careful with your firearms but not everyone is. If there are children in your home that could potentially access your firearms, you may be legally obligated to keep your guns out of their reach and locked up.

You can also be legally liable for negligence if your gun is involved in a crime.

Lending your firearms to someone you know doesn't use good judgment (such as a teenager) can lead to liability for any damages they cause. If you leave your gun carelessly lying around and it gets stolen, that could lead to charges against you for the damage the thief caused with your weapon.

If you're a gun owner, it's important to know the law about ownership in your state. Check it out and make sure that exercising your Second Amendment rights doesn't end in arrest.

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