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Get to know firearm laws before purchasing a gun

As the new year approaches, residents of Missouri might decide that they are going to try to improve the safety of their homes. Some may decide that they are going to take up hunting. If you are considering anything that requires you to have a gun, you should familiarize yourself with the state's laws so you don't run afoul of them. On top of state laws, you also have to know about federal laws.

In Missouri, sales from licensed dealers and gun stores are more closely regulated than those from one individual to another. You will have to undergo a background check if you buy from a dealer or store. You don't have to have one if you are making a purchase from a person.

There isn't a minimum age for buying a gun in Missouri, but there are federal laws to think about. In order to buy a handgun from a dealer, you have to be 21. You have to be 18 to buy a shotgun or rifle. The age to buy ammunition is the same as the age to purchase that specific type of gun.

Sometimes, minors can lawfully possess guns. In the case of a handgun, people under 18 can have a handgun if they are using it for hunting, trapping, ranching, farming, firearm safety instruction or target shooting. They can also have the gun on property that is leased or owned by an immediate family member, the minor, a guardian or a parent.

You don't have to register firearms in this state, nor do you need a permit to own one. There are limits to who can legally own a firearm, but these are covered by federal laws. The following people may not own a firearm: people addicted to drugs, those who have been convicted of a felony punishable by more than a year in prison, fugitives for justice, illegal aliens, and those convicted of domestic violence, even if the charge was a misdemeanor.

Other limitations might also apply so you should find out if there is anything barring you from legally owning a firearm. Having a firearm in your possession when you are disqualified from having one can lead to criminal charges that are very serious.

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