Do I need a permit to shoot a gun?
You have done your research on guns and you are ready to fire your first shots, but you ask yourself – “Do I need a permit to shoot a gun?”
We often get this question so I thought it would be helpful to try help to answer what only appears to be a very simple question. But of course, in these days of web-like gun laws, it isn’t a simple yes or no answer.
Naturally, you either want to shoot your new gun, or go to the range to see what it feels like to shoot one. However, can you just go out and shoot a gun?
For the person who is new to the idea of owning a gun and is aware of all of the ever-shifting laws related to guns, this is a logical question.
Laws surrounding gun ownership and its use are always changing. It can also vary greatly from state to state. So, it is important for all gun owners, not just new ones, to find reliable resources for their local gun laws and check them regularly. A good place to start to learn yours is the NRA-ILA State Gun Law Resources.
States like New York, California, and Hawaii have very strict laws. Other states with strict gun laws include Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, and Massachusetts. For instance (at the time of writing this article), in Massachusetts, those who wish to purchase a firearm must obtain a permit to purchase from their local police department.
Do I Need a Permit to Shoot a Gun at a Gun Range?
In most shooting ranges, in most states, you can go shoot as long as you are 18 or older and a US Citizen with the proper identification. If you are under 18 years of age, the range will require that you be accompanied by a parent or someone over the age of 21.
Many ranges will rent guns if you don’t have one of your own or if you would like to try different kinds. Most ranges require you to be at least 21 years old to rent guns.
Many if not most shooting ranges across the US also offer firearms safety and shooting courses which I would highly encourage any new gun owner to take prior to taking their first shots.
Please remember, this information varies by range. If you are planning on going I would suggest giving the range a call to find out their policy.
First Shots Outdoors
What if you have a large property or some woods or desert nearby? Can you shoot there? It depends. You will have to check your local laws to find out if you can shoot on your own property. If it is legal in your area, the size of the property and its proximity to occupied buildings are requirements that are different from one municipality to another. Not knowing your local laws could land you in jail.
The US Forest Service does allow target shooting on national forest or grassland unless restricted. They advise you to check your local ranger district for more information about local restrictions. In Arizona for example, you can target shoot on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land with certain restrictions.
Shooting in these outdoor areas also requires you to ensure it is a safe area to shoot and that all the necessary safety rules and precautions are taken.
So, asking the question “do I need a permit to shoot a gun?” is not as black and white as it sounds. While in most cases you can fire a handgun without a permit, you must check with your local laws and the range you are planning on visiting.
As you can see, knowing the laws in your area is a MUST before you purchase or shoot a gun.