I have purchased firearms as presents, but I defy you to purchase one being honest about it. Dealers are extremely gun shy (hmmm) about anything that faintly smells like a straw purchase.
I know exactly what you mean and the law is basically splitting hairs between straw purchases and gifts. I live in Texas and have purchased a gun as a gift for my mother, who at the time was a Texas resident. If I sell or give a gun to someone who is also a resident of Texas, there is no paperwork required. To give a gun to someone in another state a transfer with background check is required. Had I given her the gun while she was a resident of another state, it would have been legal to be “on loan” but ownership could not be transfered until she became a Texas resident, or completed an FFL transfer.
The whole point of all this of course is not to prevent crime or guns in the hands of criminals but rather to put me in a tenuous legal situation regarding ownership of the firearm. I can only imagine a gun store owners fear of liability from navigating convoluted gun regs. Ain’t our laws grand.