Gun Laws and Federal Crimes

Laws on the subject of purchasing, carrying and using firearms are some of the most confusing and commonly misunderstood laws in the United States. Examine the gun laws in your state if you own a firearm for personal or professional use, or are thinking of purchasing one.

Federal Laws

Because federal laws on state-specific issues are put in place to regulate the trade and economic issues in the U.S. as a whole, many of the federal acts that have been passed regarding firearms address these concerns, which do not all apply directly to the purchase and/or possession of a firearm by an individual.

However, there are several important laws and criminal penalties for individuals that do exist on the federal level. Here are just a few:

  • You must be 21 years of age to purchase a handgun; you must be 18 to purchase a rifle or shotgun.
  • You may not sell a firearm without a federal license (antique weapons may be sold, observing certain state-specific stipulations).
  • You may borrow or rent a firearm for lawful purposes anywhere in the United States.

Ineligibility for Firearm Possession and use

There are certain individuals ineligible to own firearms legally in the United States, including:

  • minors;
  • those convicted of felonies or certain misdemeanors;
  • those who have been dishonorably discharged from the military;
  • those subject to a restraining order; and
  • those convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

There are many other categories of individuals as well as past criminal records that can prevent you from legally obtaining a firearm. Speak to a criminal defense attorney about such matters, or about how to reinstate your right to possess a firearm, if possible, by clearing your record or following legal protocol to make you eligible again.

Federal Firearms Criminal Penalties

Federal penalties involving gun crimes are tough, as some of the ones listed below prove. Many gun crimes laws involve fines and jail sentences which are not stipulated with broad-ranging limitations, leaving it up to the discretion of the federal judge to establish the amount of fine to be paid or jail sentence to be served. In such cases, many people make use of a criminal defense lawyer, who can take advantage of experience with the justice system to keep jail time and fines to a minimum.

Gun violations are generally punishable by fines of up to $10,000 and 10 years in prison. The use of a firearm in a violent or drug-trafficking crime is punishable by a prison sentence of up to 20 years. A second offense, or a first offense if the gun is a machine gun or has a silencer, is punishable with life in prison without release.

Some provisions involving illegal sales or improper bookkeeping result in lesser punishments, but these are stipulated individually in the U.S. criminal code. A criminal defense lawyer can advise you about criminal laws.

To speak with a criminal defense lawyer practicing in your area about a gun charge, just fill out our free criminal defense case evaluation form or call 1 (877) 445-1059.

The above summary of gun laws is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. For the latest information on these laws and penalties, speak to a criminal defense attorney in your area.