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2nd Amendment and Right to Bear Arms/Private Sale of Handgun Ammo - Age Question


I have some handgun ammunition for sale and a young man 18 years old wants to purchase it.  My understanding is that FFL dealers may only sell handgun ammo to those 21 or older, but private citizens (non-dealers) may sell handguns and/or handgun ammo to those 18 or older, assuming they don't have other disqualifying factors.  Am I correct?  Thank you.

It is unlawful for any federaly licensed firearms dealer to sell or deliver any ammunition to any person if the person’s purchase or possession would be in violation of any State law or local published ordinance applicable at the place of sale or delivery. [18 U.S.C. 922(b)(2), 27 CFR 478.99(b)(2)]

Under the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), long gun ammunition may be sold only by licensees to persons 18 years of age or older, and ammunition for handguns may be sold by licensees only to persons 21 years of age and older. Although some State and local ordinances have lower age requirements, licensed dealers are bound by the minimum age requirements established by the GCA. If State law or local ordinances establish a higher minimum age, the dealer must observe the higher age requirement. [18 U.S.C. 922(b)(1), 27 CFR 478.99(b)]

A federal license is not required for a dealer in ammunition only, but a manufacturer or an importer of ammunition must be licensed. [18 U.S.C. 922 (a)(1)(B)]

With that preface for background and context, we get to the specific question asked: Unlicensed persons (i.e., a non-FFL) may not sell, deliver or otherwise transfer handgun ammunition to any person the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe is under the age of 18. [18 U.S.C. § 922(x)(1),(5)]. Thus, the transfer of handgun ammunition to persons 18 and older by a non-dealer does not appear to be in violation of the GCA.

You correctly reference "other disqualifying factors", so please note that a private seller (as well as an FFL) may not transfer ammunition to a prohibited person. Federal law prohibits ammunition sale or transfer to anyone who:

1. Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year;

2. Is a fugitive from justice;

3. Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;

4. Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to a mental institution;

5. Is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States or an alien admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa;

6. Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;

7. Having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his or her citizenship;

8. Is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner; or

9. Has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; or

10. Cannot lawfully receive, possess, ship, or transport a firearm.


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Robert P. Firriolo


General constitutional (Second Amendment) and federal firearm law inquiries. New York State and New York City laws and regulations on firearms. Use of force in self-defense. DISCLAIMER: While this site is called AllExperts and this field is captioned "Expertise," this individual is not holding himself out as an "expert" in any legal area of practice. Some jurisdictions require certain qualifications and/or certifications in order to use the label "expert" in connection with a law practice. Participation in this online service is not intended to state or imply "expert" qualifications in any jurisdiction.


Practicing firearms law attorney, including representation of individuals, gun clubs, sportsmen's organizations, shooting ranges, and businesses. Over 20 years of grassroots activism, including involvement in campaigns and elections; writing and editing articles, letters, press-releases, policy papers, and op-ed columns; interaction with firearm regulatory agencies; former board member and current legal advisor to the board of sportsmen's and firearm civil rights organizations; pro-bono counsel on select firearms-related legal cases; debated leaders of the gun-control lobby on national television. Lecturer on lawful use of deadly physical force and crime prevention.

Attorney at law. Extensive practice, independent study and research in this field. NRA-certified firearms instructor (rifle, pistol, shotgun, home firearm safety, personal protection) and Chief Range Safety Officer.

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Martindale-Hubbell "AV" Peer-Review Rating.

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