ALABAMA, USA — Gun sales are up across the United States, and many people are buying them to give as gifts this holiday season.
It is completely legal to give someone a gun as a gift, but it is important to know the rules before handing over the present.
Whether you're giving someone a new gun or a family heirloom, make sure the person receiving it can legally own a firearm.
To own a gun in Alabama, you must be at least 18 years old.
"Somebody who is a convicted felon cannot have a hand gun," said Morgan County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer, Mike Swafford. "Somebody who is mentally incapable or had some judgement against them, some court order or psychological evaluation that says they are unstable to have a weapon, you wouldn't want to give a gun to those individuals."
Each state has different rules for owning a firearm. If the person receiving the gun lives in another state, they may have to get a background check before taking the gun.
"Number one is either buy it from a reputable business or a reputable person and if you start there, then everything else is fairly simple," said Swafford.
Because people prefer different sizes and calibers, some gun retailers suggest buying a gift card and letting the person pick out exactly what they want.
"We do kind of a gun fitting," said Cypress Creek Indoor Range Owner, Keith Collier. "If somebody comes in, we would actually go through and talk to them about what do you want your gun for. Are you going to carry it on your person, are you going to keep it in your car, are you going to keep it at home. There are a lot of different options there."
If you buy someone a gun without knowing exactly what they prefer, retailers say it can be dangerous because the person receiving the gift may feel uncomfortable handling it.
Bullet and Barrel Co-owner, Melanie Hammer Murray, said, "We buy a lot of used firearms from people who will tell us, oh my boyfriend bought me this and it's too much or my son gave me this and it's too much, so it's a little bit of a tricky business buying firearms for other people."
If you are gifting a gun, Swafford says to have a plan for gun safety. He recommends giving a place to store the firearm as part of the gift.
"We don't want any mishaps, somebody get injured or somebody get killed because we didn't do a simple step like get storage or get trained on the weapon," said Swafford.
Retailers say 2020 has brought in a lot of first time gun owners.
"It's significant enough that it's contributing to the ammo shortage that we are seeing now," said Murray.
If you're gifting someone their very first gun, make sure they understand the responsibility that comes with it.
"Anybody that gets a gun for Christmas or is giving somebody a gun, I would advise them to gift them either a gift certificate for a class so they can get trained or the person that gets it, be sure and go and train with them and practice with it," said Collier.
Retailers encourage people to participate in training classes to get comfortable shooting, and for people with experience, practice at a shooting range.
"It's not a safe thing to buy a firearm and stick it in your closet or your bedside table and never touch it," said Murray.
For more information about gun laws in Alabama, click here.
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