How To Register A Gun

Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team

What States Require You To Register Your Firearms?

All of these States have some laws (although they differ) around the registration of firearms:

  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • New York
  • Maryland
  • Hawaii
  • New Jersey
  • Michigan
  • Washington

Hawaii is in fact the only State that requires registration of all owned firearms. There is actually no National consensus on gun registration.

In 1934, a law was enforced that required certain weapons to be registered such as fully automatic weapons, silenced weapons and some rifles.

However, in the 1980s, Reagan signed the Firearms Owners Protection Act which prohibits a national gun registry.

Since then, there’s been several debates and few further changes to weapon registration. However now, Federal law goes as far to prohibit usage of NICS background checks for registration.

How To Register A Gun

Registering Guns

It’s helpful to know what is involved in the registration process of weapons. Here’s some information on a State by State basis for the ones it’s applicable for:


There is a requirement for guns to be registered if transferred, through the use of an official dealer.


There is a requirement for all firearms to be registered with the Chief of Police in the County within a time frame of five days of purchase.

It must have specific information involved in the registration such as; manufacturer’s name and name of importer, serial number on the firearm, the model and action type of the weapon (inclusive of gauge and caliber) and where the weapon came from (inclusive of previous owner, if applicable).

If you’ve brought a firearm into Hawaii, you must get that registered in Hawaii within 3 days. You do not need to renew your registration though.

District Of Columbia

DC’s laws around gun registration reduce the firearms that are available around the areas. The District demands a valid certificate of registration of the firearm – if they’re bought, sold on, moved on through transfer or owned in any other way.

Firearms that are deemed unsafe in DC can not be registered, which include machine guns, sawed off shotguns, assault rifles and short barrelled rifles.

The process of registration must begin before the proposed possession of the firearm.

The person wanting to purchase the weapon must provide extensive information, including their name, address and contact information – supporting identification documents and answer important questions including if they have ever been denied firearm access (if so, why) and then agree to a background check.

The person applying for firearm registration must complete a course in the safety of firearms and agree to contact police if their weapon is lost or stolen.

New York

New York only requires registration for handguns and every five years after the initial registration, the person must re-register the handgun.

The same details of the weapon must be provided to registration, like make and model of the weapon, what the caliber is etc.

Why Register A Gun

Gun registration is one way to assist law enforcement when trying to identify a weapon involved in a gun crime, to potentially discover the criminal.

It holds gun owners to account for anything involved with the weapon.

Although not all States require that you register your firearm, any responsible gun owner will register their gun.

It’s also one way to assess the background of an individual potentially involved in violent crime.

This is helpful to law enforcement, as if they’re called to a crime involving the individual – they will have information as to whether the person might have weapons or not.

Tracing Gun Crime

Identifying violent criminals through a reliable tracing system is extremely helpful. After the identification of potential violent criminals, it can assist in the prosecution.

The information with gun registration can be quite extensive, including things like, what the firearm is and who the owner is.

The laws around registration mean that if a gun is transferred to another person, it needs to be registered again and if any gun is stolen or lost, law enforcement must be consulted.

This will not only help law enforcement know that a weapon is lost, but if a crime is committed with this weapon – you’ve covered your bases.

Tracing Gun Crime

Getting The Ineligible Out Of The Way

When it comes to renewing a gun registration, law enforcement will undergo an extensive background check on the person trying to renew their weapon – giving them plenty of opportunity to look over the person and assess if they believe the gun owner should continue to own the gun.

If they believe not, it’s a perfect opportunity to rid the ineligible and potentially dangerous individual of the weapon.

Deterring Poor Gun Ownership

By adhering to gun registration, it encourages gun owners to responsibly store their weapons in racks or cabinets, away from people who should not have access to firearms.

It also deters people from getting involved in straw purchasing – where a person who is ineligible for firearm ownership gets somebody who is eligible to buy and register the gun on their behalf.

Is Gun Registration Popular?

A survey from 2019 found that over 60% of Americans would support a law that requires every gun owner to register their firearm.

What To Remember

Gun registration is a responsible and sensible thing to take part in.

It assists law enforcement in criminal investigations, it deters irresponsbility with firearms, weeds out the people who should not have guns, and most people in the Country are behind the idea that registration of firearms should be the same across the board – but not all States legally require it.

Some States require specific weapons to be registered and you’ll find gun laws alter State to State for things including open carry, permits, waiting periods and limitations.

It’s always worth checking with the State as to the gun laws in that area before making a firearm purchase.

Take care!