As a firearms instructor, I am probably asked in one way or another some derivation of the “How To Buy A Handgun” question more so than any other query. Rather than answer a lot of simple and often inter-related questions on the subject, I felt that the subject matter would best be served by an exhaustive and definitive answer to this prevalent question.
The 10-Day Handgun Purchase Permit (TDHPP)
The first step in the handgun buying process - in the state of Michigan - is for the prospective buyer, who is at least eighteen (18) years of age, to acquire a “Ten Day HandGun Purchase Permit” (TDHPP) from the prevailing law enforcement authority (PLEA) where the prospective buyer legally resides.
For example, in the city of Detroit a buyer would apply at Detroit Police Headquarters whereas a buyer residing in a rural area might need to apply at his respective county Sheriff’s Office. Buyers who possess a current Michigan Concealed Pistol License (MCPL) are not required to obtain a TDHPP before buying a handgun.
In accordance with state of Michigan law and the local practices of the buyer’s PLEA, the prospective buyer may be required to take and pass a short fifteen question True/False exam - the Michigan Basic Pistol Safety Questionaire (MPSQ) - without cost which must be passed with at least a score of seventy percent (70%) correct. Once the buyer has passed the MPSQ, he will be issued a TDHPP which authorizes him to legally purchase a handgun within the next ten days. If the buyer does not buy a handgun within the specified ten day period, he will need to revisit his PLEA and reapply for another TDHPP.
The Handgun Purchase From A Private Seller
Authorized handgun buyers, who are at least eighteen (18) years of age but who have not yet reached the age of twenty-one (21), are not allowed under U.S. Federal Law to purchase a handgun from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). Thus, these buyers can only legally buy or transfer ownership of handguns from private sellers. In contrast, authorized handgun buyers who are at least twenty-one (21) years of age can legally buy a handgun from both FFLs and private sellers.
At the time of purchase, authorized handgun buyers under the age of twenty-one (21) must present their TDHPP to the private seller. Likewise, authorized handgun buyers, who are at least twenty-one (21) years old, but do not have a current MCPL, and wish to buy a handgun from a private seller, must also submit their TDHPP to the seller.
In contrast, handgun buyers with a current MCPL who wish to buy a handgun from a private seller must be presented with a Michigan Pistol Sales Record Form MI-60 (PSRF) from the seller. A purchaser with a MCPL would be wise to have a blank PSRF downloaded from Michigan State Police’s official website at URL www.michigan.gov/msp in the event that the seller was unaware that the buyer did not need a TDHPP.
In all of the scenarios - listed above - dealing with the purchase of handguns from private sellers, both the seller and the buyer must both sign all three sections of the applicable form: the TDHPP or the PSRF. The seller retains one part of the applicable form and gives the remaining two sections of the applicable form to the buyer.
The buyer, in all of the above scenarios, would be wise to receive a sales receipt for his handgun purchase from the seller, to confirm the identity of the seller by checking the seller’s state issued identification, to confirm that the seller is the owner of the handgun by checking the seller’s Safety Inspection Certificate (SIC) for the handgun in question, and to verify that the serial number on the handgun matches the info on the SIC.
This section would not be complete without at least mentioning that there may be some element of risk for the buyer when buying a gun from private seller. Just keep in mind that the buyer may be doing business with a complete stranger who the buyer already knows will be in his presence with at least one gun - presumably the one he’s selling - and the seller knows that the buyer will have a lot of cash. Thus, common sense should be the order of the day. The buyer should meet the seller in a public and well populated locale like a firing range.
The Handgun Purchase From a FFL
Authorized handgun buyers, who are at least twenty-one (21) years of age, are allowed under U.S. Federal Law to purchase a handgun from a FFL. As in the above scenario - when purchasing a handgun from a private seller - the non MCPL buyer must present the FFL with the TDHPP from their PLEA. In contrast, the MCPL handgun buyer can be assured that a FFL will have a PSRF on hand to legally document and transact the handgun purchase.
There will also be other documentation for the buyer - both with or without a MCPL - to satisfy other federal requirements. The FFL will guide the buyer through the entire process. At the end of the sales transaction, a non MCPL buyer will have two endorsed portions of the TDHPP in his possession and the MCPL buyer will have an endorsed PSRF. In both cases, the requisite form must be taken by the buyer along with the gun to his PLEA for a safety inspection within ten (10) days or he could be charged with a misdemeanor.
The Transportation Of A Firearm By Car
The legal way to transport a handgun in a car by a person without a MCPL is for the handgun to be unloaded, separated from ammunition, placed in an approved and locked case, with the case placed in the trunk or the rear-most section of the vehicle.
The Handgun Safety Inspection
All handgun purchases must be safety inspected by the buyer’s PLEA within ten (10) days of purchase. The buyer should also present the PLEA with the requisite form: endorsed sections of the TDHPP or the PSRF. With this information, the gun’s ownership will be transferred to the buyer upon the entry of the transaction’s pertinent info into the state’s database and the issuance of a SIC to the buyer.
Rick Ector is a firearms safety and a personal protection expert. His company, “Rick’s Firearm Academy of Detroit,” specializes in providing Concealed Pistol License Training Classes for law-abiding citizens who have a desire to become more involved in both their own personal protection and the safety of their families.
Rick is both an appointed NRA Training Counselor and an appointed NRA Chief Range Safety Officer. He is credentialed by the NRA (National Rifle Association) to teach the following: Firearms Instructor Training, Range Safety Officer Training, Home Firearm Safety, Personal Protection (CCW/CPL), Basic Pistol, Basic Rifle, Basic Shotgun, Metallic Cartridge Reloading, and Shotgun Shell Reloading. Moreover, Rick is both a Life Member and a Membership Recruiter for the NRA.
Rick is also very active in the gun rights movement. As such, he networks with other gun rights activists, attends gun rights conventions, organizes open-carry meet-ups, and speaks at Detroit-area block club functions. He is a member of the following organizations: Rick’s Firearm Academy Alumni, Black Gun Owners, the Association of Urban Shooters, and makes contributions to the nationally syndicated show entitled, “The Urban Shooter Podcast.” CLICK HERE TO VISIT HIS BLOG