Age for handling handguns in store?


September 21, 2003, 10:25 PM
I was recently told by a counterperson at my local gunstore that acc. to law, I cant even touch a handgun in the store or he gets fired, fined, store loses license, hosts Spanish Inquisitors, etc. etc. etc. Is this true? I know I cant buy one, but I can fondle and shop, right?


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September 21, 2003, 10:26 PM
In Alabama & Georgia its 21 yrs old.:mad:

September 21, 2003, 10:57 PM
If you know the gun shop people very well, they probably will make an exception. It was quite amusing because one time I was back home in PA to visit my parents. I went to a local gunshop and asked to see one of the handguns there. The guy asked if I was 21, I told him I wasn't. Then he proceeded to tell me in all of his GSC wisdom that it is illegal by FEDERAL law for a person under 21 to even touch a handgun. I replied..."Uhh...then how did I get this? *pulls Indiana handgun permit out of wallet*" The guy looked at me like I was some kind of criminal :rolleyes:

Old Fuff
September 21, 2003, 11:00 PM
In Arizona you have to be out of diapers and accompanied by a responsible adult. That said, different stores have different attitudes. Some feel that it’s foolish to let someone put mileage on a gun they can’t buy. Others have figured out that someday you’ll be old enough to buy.

Hint: HOW you behave in general, and HOW you handle a gun, if you get a chance, often makes a big difference. No one likes a kid who can’t keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, and keeps dry-firing the (whatever). Don’t handle anything, or even ask, until you know how to do it right.

September 21, 2003, 11:18 PM
The guys at the shop love me now because I demonstrated good technigue in handling, plus I asked to handle all the guns that I knew they favored first :)

September 21, 2003, 11:20 PM
My local gun store lets me handle whatever gun I want despite my only being 18. Obviously I can't buy the gun or ammo but they are nice enough to at least show me the gun. Now stores like Galyans, sporting good stores etc(ie big chain stores) will not let me handle the pistols.

There is a definite reason I frequent my local gun shop and buy all of my guns/ammo there as opposed to big stores. They are kind, let me handle what I want w/o undue hassle, and are friendly unlike the larger stores...

September 21, 2003, 11:25 PM
I've been told that you must be 21, but I can find no law that would indicate this, nor anything in the ATF FAQ. It seems especially odd since no one checks IDs at the door at gun shows, nor at the tables when browsing and handling...

September 22, 2003, 12:10 AM
Honestly, if the law is 21 to buy a handgun & you're not of age, you're really just wasting someone's time if you're just fondling. Plus, if the law and store policy say no, there's not much you can do until you're of age.

September 22, 2003, 12:57 AM
I've never really had a problem with it. I'm only 19, but I look (and feel) old. I still get a little bit of crap trying to buy ammo on occasion, but usually only when I'm not sporting a beard or a goatee.

I'm aware of no laws about handling them in gunstores, but then, I'm no lawyer. Man, minimum ages SUCK.


September 22, 2003, 01:10 AM
If a clerk in a store feels it's a waste of time to show or demonstrate a firearm or share knowledge of firearms to someone, who because of age, is not yet eligable to make a purchase is working for a store that I would not want to frequent.

I am sure I am not the only THR member whose Father took them hunting and shooting before they were old enough to legally own a firearm.
Also, I don't know of a single state that doesn't issue some sort of firearm hunting license to underaged people.

When I was 14 (1969) my father took be out to find a pump shotgun that suited me. I had read every article and review I could get my hands on and had narrowed the field down to either the Mosberg 500 or the Remington 870. I was allowed to handle them both by the guys at Allied Sporting Goods where he bought it for me. (I still own that Mossberg 500)

As shooters and gun owners we should embrace any and all responsible people who express and interest in firearms and shooting sports.

Rember that knowledge is like love, it's useless to have unless you share it with someone.

Just my tuppence.

September 22, 2003, 07:44 AM
I'm 21 and look 17-18, no beard. (yet...)

I get carded everytime I go to cabelas and want to handle a rifle. You guys should see the skeptical looks on their faces when I ask to see a pistol outright.

For some reason I've been getting better service from my local gunshop ever since I went in and bought one of their glocks with cash. I wonder why? :confused: ;)

I just dont feel a trip to cabelas/a gunshop is complete until I've examined an unknown firearm. :scrutiny:

September 23, 2003, 02:35 AM
Thanks for all the replys. It either tells me that the policy is grounded in legal fact, or the ignorance is so widespread that there is no way to counter it.;)

Again, thanks.

Jim K
September 23, 2003, 11:17 PM
Post Columbine, I expect some gun store clerks are afraid that an underage person looking at a handgun will be a front man for "60 Minutes" and will be followed by a screaming Dan Rather and a camera crew. ("GUN STORE LETS CHILD FONDLE HANDGUN - MORE REASON TO BAN GUNS --CHANNEL 9 AT 10 O'CLOCK.")


September 24, 2003, 10:21 AM
In NY state you can't even TOUCH a gun unless you have a permit......which is basically you have a bunch of people w/ absolutly NO handgun expeirence buying and shooting guns....seems to me that it would be GOOD for someone who is thinking about getting a permit to at least be able to them........liberal freaking state................:rolleyes:
There's a few shops around here that,depending on who's working,will ask to see your permit when you ask to see a handgun.:confused:

September 24, 2003, 10:14 PM
TonyB that is bad

Lord, please let me never have to live in NY
or CA
or NJ
or MA
yeah thats it

September 25, 2003, 02:31 PM
The clerk at my local shop let me handle a used pistol once, though I've never asked to see any. I'm 18, only 3/5 of a citizen...


September 25, 2003, 02:44 PM
let me clarify this. Here's what the federal law says:

8 U.S.C. 922(b)
· (b) It shall be unlawful for any licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector to sell or deliver -
o (1) any firearm or ammunition to any individual who the
licensee knows or has reasonable cause to believe is less than
eighteen years of age, and, if the firearm, or ammunition is
other than a shotgun or rifle, or ammunition for a shotgun or
rifle, to any individual who the licensee knows or has reasonable
cause to believe is less than twenty-one years of age;

Doesn't say he can't let you hold it--However some people think the word "deliver" means that, though it's never been tested, so as of now it's just gun shop policy. Since there is no law that prevents someone over 18 from possessing a handgun (I'm 18 and legally own 2) just go with a friend over 21 and have him hand it to you. That's what i do when the guy behind the counter is a real hardass. I go "hey dad, take a look at that one" after my dad gets it he hands it to me. The shop employee only handed it to my dad, so all responsibility rests on my dad handing it to me.

I've seen this exact problem taken to stupid levels. For instance, i could hold the AK-47, but not the 9mm handgun, but for some reason he would let me hold the .22 caliber handgun. :confused:

Now, if your state law has further restrictions, that's up to you to find out. PA and most states have no further restrictions (NYC, IL, CA, DC, i'd check)

September 26, 2003, 02:45 AM
Consider in this discussion how important it is to be careful to pass good laws and try to get rid of the not so good laws. The idea that a kid can't legally touch a handgun under the supervision of a store clerk is foolish.


September 26, 2003, 02:52 PM
there is definitely a lot of percieved liability risks for a retailer to let some who is legally an adult but not yet the magical age touch a handgun.
i was carded when i asked to look at a colt 1911a1 at walmart last year. the guy said he had to make sure. retailers such as that likely have what is known as 'secret shoppers', who rate an employee based on their customer service, attitude, and compliance with store policy.

i had a secret shopper once when i worked at Nordstrom 9 yrs ago. you usually had an idea when they were in the store as up here for nordstrom they brought people in from washington, managers werent supposed to give their employees the headsup but they all did anyways. turns out my normal behavior got me a 95 score. wouldve been 100 had i offered her my card, but i didnt have any at the time.

some push does need to be made to allow those 18-20 to purchase, own, handle, dream about, and carry concealed a handgun.

September 26, 2003, 04:25 PM
What is the problem, other than the law, with letting a 16 year old handle an *empty* gun at a store under the supervision of the store clerk? Why would it be more of a problem than handling a knife? Or, are knives also on the "don't touch list" for kids?


Jake 98c/11b
September 27, 2003, 10:14 AM
Old Fuff has it about right for Virginia as well. A teenager who is well behaved and shows proper interest doesn't need an adult around if it is not too busy. After all we need to do all we can to encourage an interest in shooting to the next generation. I figure that if the kid is acting responsible, if he is treated like an equal that will certainly make him want to come back.

Shooting is one of the few areas of ability that don't require years of experience or great athletic ability. The fundamenals are simple (but not always easy) and some kids excell at it with little encouragement.

Back to the point, no federal law prohibits it but some state laws do.

September 28, 2003, 02:41 AM
Actually there is nothing in the federal law about minors handling handguns. A little reading in the ATF regs make specific reference about adults and employers purchasing handguns for minors. Additionally, there are 18-20 years olds in the united states who are in fact sworn law enforcement officers with full authority to buy, carry and handle as they wish.


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