Lend Your CCW Cautiously
The act of transferring a firearm incorporates loaning, selling, gifting or leasing it and therefore reassigning possession of it for a short or extended period of time.
“Can I lend my gun to someone?”
“Can I carry someone else’s gun?”
They’re common questions that incorporate identity and risk. Not to say the act is discouraged, but when transferring a firearm for recreational or self-defense purposes, one must responsibly adhere to state and federal law, as well as understand the risk associated with putting a lethal weapon in someone else’s hand.
Consider Who Will Be Handling the Firearm
Lending a firearm is a serious matter that can result in consequences beyond firing at a target on a gun range. As a precursor, we do not provide legal advice nor are we lawyers.
Firearms are not evil. They’re a series of mechanical and chemical reactions that fire a projectile from a metal barrel. It is the hand that holds the firearm that is evil, good or somewhere in between, and those who put a firearm into those hands must be fully aware of who they’re handing that weapon to.
Any opinion otherwise on any type of firearm is personal perception both of an inanimate object and of the actions of those that have resulted in a specific consequence, intentional or not.
Before Lending Your CCW Ask Yourself:
- How do you know them?
- Are they trustworthy?
- How old are they?
- What is their background?
- Where do both the transferrer and the recipient live?
- Do the associated parties have legal authorization to handle, carry, possess and potentially use the firearm?
- Is the firearm transferring state lines?
- Does the recipient understand gun safety?
- How long is the firearm going to be transferred for?
- What is their intention with the firearm, and what are the possible results of transferring it to them?
One can carry another’s firearm. It’s easy. One person hands their firearm to another in a safe location and they fire it at a target while keeping in mind all the relevant gun safety information.
However, there’s a bit more to the matter when state legality is brought to mind.
Transferring a firearm by lending it to someone must be done responsibly in multiple ways, one of which being adhering to state laws.
Know your state laws and work with them. There can be differences in one state as opposed to the other, and exceptions to those differences may be active in one state yet completely different in another.
For example, according to the Michigan Legislature, a person cannot purchase, carry, possess or transport a pistol in Michigan without having obtained a license for that weapon.
However, the Michigan Legislature added an amendment to that section, rendering it inapplicable if an individual carrying, possessing, using or transporting a pistol belonging to someone else is licensed to carry a concealed pistol or is exempt from licensing.
The Firearm Lender Should Be Licensed For Their Weapon
Hawai’i law on firearms transfers is straightforward. You may not possess another individual’s firearm without a permit from the police, unless for hunting or target shooting. An individual may lend rifles and shotguns within the state without a permit from the police chief for up to 15 days.
According to Hawai’i law, “if you sell or transfer the ownership of a handgun, you must obtain the recipient’s permit at the time of sale or transfer. You are required to sign the permit in ink and submit the permit to the Hawaiʻi Police Department within 48 hours of the transfer via hand delivery or registered mail.”
According to Massachusetts law, one may not own or have in their possession a firearm, shotgun, rifle or ammunition without also owning a firearm identification card. Additionally, they may not lend those items to someone unless they own a firearm identification card or a license to carry a pistol or revolver.
However, there’s a silver lining for those just wanting to recreationally use a friend’s firearm in Massachusetts. Those previously mentioned Massachusetts laws do not extend to those temporarily holding, handling or firing a firearm, rifle or shotgun for examination, trial or instruction in the presence of a licensed firearms carrier or where such holding, handling and firing is for a lawful purpose.
That convoluted sentence is almost verbatim from their publicly available laws.
Oregon’s law seems to be straightforward at first, but later becomes convoluted as well. It outlines according to Oregon law what a transfer is, the stipulations of a transfer and ways to make a transfer more accessible.
A transfer is a sale, gift, loan or lease of firearm and the delivery of that firearm from one individual to another. An individual in Oregon may transfer a firearm to someone for -- and the transferred firearm may be possessed prior to, during and while completing -- “activities related to hunting, trapping or target shooting.” A transfer may only be completed between the two parties with the firearm in hand at a licensed gun dealer where a background check may be initiated. However, if the firearm transfer is for a time period under seven days, then the background check can be done by the transferor over the phone and not at a gun retailer. Furthermore, the transfer does not need to be done with a gun dealer, nor is a background check necessary, if the recipient is the transferor’s spouse, domestic partner, parent, stepparent, child, stepchild, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, first cousin, niece, nephew or a spouse or domestic partner of those listed individuals.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives distributes a list of best practices for transferring firearms between private sellers.
“Under Federal law, there is no recordkeeping requirement pertaining to the transfer of a firearm between two unlicensed individuals,” according to the ATF.
Also, an unlicensed individual may transfer a firearm to another unlicensed individual so long as they both reside in the same state and the transferrer believes the buyer or recipient is not prohibited by law to transfer the gun. However, the unlicensed individual cannot transfer a firearm to an individual in another state.
Handing a gun to someone seems simple. The legality behind the matter, however, is not universal, and should be researched on a state-to-state basis before law-abiding civilian gun owners lend their firearms to others.
A local sheriff’s office is a good place to start. State legislatures provide information via government websites. A licensed gun dealer can provide answers based on your location. Consult a local attorney if the matter seems complex.
Bottom line: know who the weapon is being transferred to and understand the necessary steps state and federal law require.
About The Author
Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter and photographer based in the Pacific Northwest. He graduated from the University of Idaho with degrees in public relations and apparel.