If you're a hunter or a recreational shooter you probably know how to go about buying a firearm. Lately, a surprising number of people have asked me how to go about doing this. It's not complicated, but it isn't as easy as ordering random stuff on Amazon.

Here are the most basic means of making a gun purchase. First, you have to be at least 18 years of age to buy a long gun (rifle or shotgun) or 21 to buy a pistol. You must also have a South Dakota driver's license or other approved ID. Then it is time to go shopping.

Once you have settled on the firearm you wish to buy the store will have you fill out a Form 4473 from the ATF and then submit it to a background check with National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Once that comes back clean because you are not a felon or other prohibited person, you can put down your money, go about the rest of the transaction, and you are done!

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Sometimes people with no criminal record of any kind will get delayed with the NICS check. If you are delayed the FBI will either not reply at all for three days, in which case you will get to proceed, or they will come back with a flat denial. There is allegedly a third option of a proceed coming back, but from what I have heard that never happens.

If you go through the process of getting a South Dakota Enhanced Pistol Permit you can skip the background check when you buy a gun, handy for those who often get delayed, which I never have.

You can also order a gun online, but you cannot have it shipped directly to your door. This process is mostly the same, except instead of buying the gun from a local store, you buy it from an out-of-town store on the Internet, which will include shipping costs and maybe sales tax, and they ship it to the local South Dakota gun store of your choice. Once it arrives you go to the local store, pay whatever they charge for a transfer fee ($10 - $40 in most cases), then fill out the paperwork. Of course, you don't pay for the gun again because you already did that online a day or two prior.

No special permit is required to make a firearm purchase in South Dakota, just a valid photo ID. If it has expired you can't make the purchase. I know this because I forgot to renew my driver's license a few years ago and went to buy a used deer rifle and the gal behind the counter said "Sorry! You need to renew your license first." Oops!

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