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Frequently Asked Legal Questions

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65 views   |   1   |   Last updated on Jul 10, 2020    Guns Criminal Law

The library has received many questions asking whether you can give a gun to someone who is under 18.

The state law about illegal transfers or sales of weapons can be found in the Texas Penal Code, Section 46.06.  Here, “firearm” means “any device designed, made, or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel by using the energy generated by an explosion or burning substance or any device readily convertible to that use,” not including some antique or curio firearms. This law says that:

Sec. 46.06. UNLAWFUL TRANSFER OF CERTAIN WEAPONS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person:

    […]

    (2) intentionally or knowingly sells, rents, leases, or gives or offers to sell, rent, lease, or give to any child younger than 18 years of age any firearm, club, or location-restricted knife;

However, subsection (c) of that same law states that it is an affirmative defense to prosecution if the child’s parent or legal custodian had given permission or consent for the transfer. If the minor is buying the weapon, this permission must be in writing.

Federal law is similar only when it comes to handguns. 18 U.S. Code 922(x) makes it illegal to “sell, deliver, or otherwise transfer” a handgun or handgun ammunition to a juvenile (defined here as a person less than 18 years of age) and for a juvenile to possess a handgun unless all of the following are true:

  • The juvenile is using the handgun for their employment, ranching or farming, target practice, hunting, or taking a firearm education course
  • The juvenile has written permission from a parent or guardian who is not prohibited by law from possessing a firearm
  • The juvenile has the written permission in their possession at any time that they are also in possession of the handgun
  • The juvenile follows other state and federal laws when possessing the handgun

According to the Giffords Center, federal law does not place a minimum age on possessing or receiving rifles or shotguns.

For more information about selling and gifting guns, please see the Buying & Transferring page of our Gun Laws guide. To ensure that a gift of a weapon to someone younger than 18 is conducted legally, please consult with an attorney.

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