Some states in the United States require that the owner of any firearm first obtain a license, while others require that owners of handguns be licensed. Each state has its own requirements regarding licensing gun owners, and some localities impose additional restrictions or requirements.
Check the laws in your state. In Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey, you must have a license to own any kind of firearm. In California, Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island, you must have a license to own a handgun.
Visit the website of your state police. There you'll find links to information detailing how to apply for a license. You may be able to download the application form directly from the website.
Submit to a background check, which is designed to discover if you're a person who's prohibited from owning firearms by federal law. Some prohibited persons include those that have been convicted of a serious crime, drug users, the mentally ill, fugitives from justice, illegal aliens, those who have renounced their citizenship, those discharged dishonorably from the armed services, those who have restraining orders against them and those who have been convicted of domestic violence.
Complete a firearms safety course. Some states require this before you can have a license issued to you, but even if it's not required, it's a good idea if you're buying your first firearm. Most safety courses require that you prove some proficiency in using your firearm.
Report to your local law enforcement agency to get your fingerprints taken, if required. Usually the sheriff's office handles this task.
Submit your application, evidence of your completion of a firearms safety course, fingerprints and any other information required by your state. You also need to include payment.
Wait until your license arrives in the mail before you attempt to buy a firearm.