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Guns As Gifts

Guns As Gifts

Can I Lawfully Purchase A Firearm From A Dealer I Intend To Give As A Gift?

“Yes”, in most cases, but not if the recipient is a prohibited possessor under Federal law and not prohibited by State or local law.

There is a unified focus by ATF and state and local law enforcement to prosecute straw purchasers. A straw purchase is one where the intended buyer (transferee) from the Federal Firearms Licensee (i.e., gun shop) is not intended to be the actual recipient of the firearm. Such firearms may be handguns or long guns (Title I weapons).

Instead, the purchase made by the strawman is for a prohibited possessor.  There are a number of prohibited possessors under the Gun Control Act and subsequent amendment, most commonly a felony.  Therefore, the purchaser or transferee must falsely answer question 11.a. on the Firearms Transaction Record (commonly known by form number as 4473); this question asks, “[a]re you the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm(s) on this form.”  This is followed by several warnings, such as “[i]f you are not the actual buyer, the dealer cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you.”

Before the signature line on the 4473 form by the transferee, there is a certification and warning that, “[i]f I am not the actual buyer [it] is a crime punishable as a felony under Federal law, and also may violate State and/or local law.”  The intent of this question is to ensure a buyer is not purchasing a firearm for a prohibited possessor.

Notwithstanding, ATF has clarified that a buyer/transferee is the actual buyer if you are legitimately purchasing the firearm(s) as a gift for a third party.1 However, you cannot transfer any firearm as a gift to any person you know or have reasonable cause to believe is a prohibited possessor, such as a felon.2

This blog post is provided for general educational information only. Specific questions should be directed to counsel of choice. This blog post was written by attorney Bryan L. Ciyou, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., Indianapolis, Indiana.  It is not a solicitation for legal services.


  1. ATF Form 4473 (5300.9) Part I, Revised April, 2012 (Notices, Instructions and Definitions)
  2. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d).
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