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Frequently Asked Legal Questions

Find answers to common questions in our searchable FAQ.

57229 views   |   88   |   Last updated on Sep 27, 2023    Guns Criminal Law

It depends.

Texas law and federal law set different age requirements regarding how old you have to be to buy a weapon. Depending on what kind of weapon you would like to purchase and who you are buying it from, the legal age could be as high as 21 under federal law.

Texas Law

Section 46.06 of the Texas Penal Code makes it illegal for a person to sell or give a firearm to any child younger than 18. Subsection (c) of that law says it is an affirmative defense if the child's parent or legal custodian gave written permission for the sale.

The word "firearm" has a specific definition in the law. Section 46.01 of the Penal Code lists the legal definition of firearm. The definition excludes some antique or curio firearms.

Federal Law

Federal law has different age requirements depending on whether you are buying from a licensed dealer. Age requirements also depend on the type of firearm.

Licensed dealers cannot sell any firearm or ammunition to someone under the age of 18. If the firearm is not a shotgun or rifle, the dealer cannot sell to someone under the age of 21. This law is found at 18 U.S. Code 922(b)(1).

Not all sales are through licensed dealers. 18 U.S. Code 922(x) deals with sales and transfers by someone who does not have a federal firearms license. This law makes it illegal to sell a handgun or handgun ammunition to a juvenile less than 18 years of age. That same law says it is illegal for a juvenile to possess a handgun or handgun ammunition unless certain conditions are met.

The word "firearm" is defined differently in federal law than Texas law. 18 U.S. Code 921(a)(3) defines the term. The definition excludes antique firearms.

Second Amendment Lawsuits

In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a court decision about gun rights in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, 142 S.Ct. 2111. The case is commonly known as Bruen or the Bruen decision.

In a 6 to 3 ruling, the Supreme Court said that people have a constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense. The court also offered a new way of interpreting the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Since the Bruen decision, people have filed lawsuits against state and federal gun laws that may place restrictions on firearms. The courts are in the process of making decisions that reflect the Bruen decision. Some laws may be found to be unconstitutional.

An attorney can help you determine what recent court decisions might mean for your legal rights. For information on finding an attorney, please see the library's Legal Help page.

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