Laws are enacted within each state to regulate firearms and other weapons. Violating a weapons regulation can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment and fines.
Federal, State and Local Weapons Laws
It has been estimated that there are more than 20,000 gun laws in the country. Gun laws and other weapons laws regulate all aspects pertaining to weapons, including:
- Possession – it may be legal to possess a weapon but there may be restrictions.
- Licensing – guns must be properly licensed.
- Carrying – each state has different laws for carrying weapons.
- Transporting – issues arise regarding transporting guns and weapons across state lines and within the state.
- Use – there are strict prohibitions as to when a weapon may be used.
- Sale – the sale of weapons, particularly firearms, are subject to state and federal laws.
- Manufacturing – weapons manufacturing laws may be strict - yet simultaneously unclear.
- Importation – in order to import weapons, specific laws must be followed.
Possession of a Firearm or Ammunition by a Prohibited Person
Under 18 USC Sec. 922 (g) & (n), severe penalties result from illegally possessing a firearm. Excluded persons include:
It is illegal to possess or receive a firearm or ammunition. By a subject who falls within one of the following categories:
- Felon – and those awaiting trial on felony charges are prohibited from receiving firearms;
- Drug user or addict – If the subject tests positive for drugs or if drug paraphernalia was seized or if the subject claims to have possessed drugs for personal use;
- Alien – this includes both illegal aliens and those who were legally admitted under non-immigrant visas.
- An individual who is presently under a domestic restraining order – If the subject is so ordered by the court; if the subject is found to be a threat to the intimate partner or child;
- Those with a prior domestic assault conviction – prior convictions for assault or threatened assault with a deadly weapon;
- Fugitive from justice – a fugitive who fled any state to a) avoid prosecution, or b) avoid testifying in a criminal case.
- Dishonorably discharged from military – can’t transport firearm across state line.
- Penalty for knowingly selling or giving a firearm or ammunition to any of the above:
- Prison: up to 10 years
Example Restriction and Penalties
Under 18 USC Sec. 924(c), it is illegal to
- Use, carry or possess a firearm:
- In furtherance of a drug felony or federal crime of violence.
- 5 years to life imprisonment.
- Without parole.
- The death penalty may be imposed if a death results from the use of the firearm.
Sentencing increases depending on
- Type of firearm,
- Number of offenses committed,
- Whether firearm was brandished or discharged.