It is commonly known that there are laws pertaining to the possession of a firearm, but each state also has separate laws regarding other illegal weapons.
Illegal Weapons Lawyers
- Illegal Weapons: What Are They?
- How Do You Know if an Act Violates an Illegal Weapons Law?
- Can Illegal Weapon Laws Be Exempted?
- What Are the Consequences of Violating an Illegal Weapon Law?
- The Gun Control Act
- Are There Any Restrictions on the Possession of Guns by Individuals?
- Where Can Guns Be Legally Possessed?
- Are There any Restrictions on Specific Types of Firearms?
- How Are Gun Possession Restrictions Determined?
- What Is the Punishment for an Illegal Firearm Possession Conviction?
- Do I Need an Attorney if I Have Violated an Illegal Weapon Law?
Illegal Weapons: What Are They?
It is up to each state to decide what weapons are illegal within its borders. Here are a few examples:
- Ballistic knives
- Belt buckle knives
- Cane swords
- Billy clubs
- Large-capacity ammunition magazines
- Ammunition with or containing an explosive agent
- Camouflaging firearm container
- Any gun not immediately recognizable as a firearm
- Metallic knuckles
How Do You Know if an Act Violates an Illegal Weapons Law?
In most states, illegal weapon laws prohibit a variety of activities.
They can include:
- Producing or causing the manufacture of illegal weapons
- The importation of illegal weapons into a state
- The sale or storage of illegal weapons
- The giving or lending of illegal weapons
- Illegal weapon possession
Can Illegal Weapon Laws Be Exempted?
Most states have the following exemptions for violations of their illegal weapon laws:
- A police department, the Department of Justice, the Armed Forces, or any of their authorized agents
- Self-defense schools licensed by the state
- In a collection, antiques, relics, and instruments are displayed
- Use in film, television, or video production
- Laboratories for forensics
What Are the Consequences of Violating an Illegal Weapon Law?
- Jail time, from 1 to 5 years;
- Fines, from $100 to $10,000;
- Community service; or
- Loss of driver’s license.
The Gun Control Act
In the United States, the Gun Control Act regulates who can own firearms, manufacture and sell firearms, and import firearms. Firearms may only be transferred interstate by licensed dealers, importers, and manufacturers.
Additionally, the Gun Control Act prohibits the possession or ownership of firearms by:
- Convicted felons in state or federal courts
- Fugitive criminals
- Addicts or users of controlled substances
- Mentally ill or institutionalized individuals
- Dishonorably discharged United States military personnel
- Nonimmigrants or illegal aliens
- Anyone who has renounced their U.S. citizenship
- Those with restraining orders
- Those convicted of domestic violence or misdemeanors
There are some places where the holder of the weapon does not have the right to use the weapon, such as:
- Buildings owned by the government
- Campuses and buildings of schools
- Airports worldwide
Are There Any Restrictions on the Possession of Guns by Individuals?
The possession of guns may be restricted for a variety of reasons, including:
- Federal law prohibits the sale of handguns to anyone under the age of 18. Long guns like rifles and shotguns are not subject to the same restrictions. However, the law differs by state, and many states require a minimum age of 21 to purchase a handgun.
A person’s background can also make it illegal for them to possess a gun. Guns cannot be sold to anyone who:
- Was convicted or accused of a crime in federal court that carries a possible sentence of over a year in jail (generally felonies)
- The state court has convicted or charged with a felony or misdemeanor punishable by more than two years in prison
- Fled the country
- Is known to be addicted to controlled substances (the person must have “lost self-control with respect to the use of controlled substances” and may be inferred from multiple recent drug convictions)
- Has been found to be a danger to themselves or others, or who has been involuntarily committed due to drug/alcohol abuse or mental illness
- Has been convicted of certain crimes or is under a court order related to domestic violence or a serious mental illness.]
- Is illegally residing in the U.S.
- Was discharged dishonorably from the U.S. armed forces
As with the age requirement, each state can set its own background requirements regarding who can possess a gun.
Where Can Guns Be Legally Possessed?
There are some places where gun possession is prohibited, even by people who can legally possess guns elsewhere. Likewise, there are federal and state laws, so the states can be more strict.
In accordance with federal law, gun possession is prohibited in the following places:
- Facilities managed by the federal government
- Post Offices
- In airports and on airplanes (except when the weapon is unloaded, in a checked bag, and the airline is aware of the weapon).
- K-12 school zones (except for concealed carry permits issued by the state)
Guns are generally prohibited in courthouses and other government buildings, but these laws often exempt open carry permits. Guns are also commonly prohibited by states in the following areas:
- Alcohol-serving bars and restaurants
- Polling Places
- Childcare Facility
If you’re unsure of the law in your state, a firearms lawyer can provide clarity on local restrictions.
Are There any Restrictions on Specific Types of Firearms?
Some states prohibit certain types of firearms completely. If you live in a state where the following items are illegal, you may not be able to possess them:
- A semi-automatic gun with a detachable magazine, known as an assault weapon (e.g., AK-47, M-16)
- A “Ghost Gun”: a firearm assembled from a kit or printed with a 3D printer that can’t be traced by law enforcement and is often undetectable by metal detectors
- Generally, magazines with a capacity of more than ten rounds are considered large-capacity magazines
- Fully automatic firearms, machine guns fire bullets as long as the trigger is held down
- Only a few states prohibit 50-caliber weapons
- Silencers: These are used to prevent someone from hearing the sound of gunfire or from seeing the muzzle flash
How Are Gun Possession Restrictions Determined?
There may also be restrictions based on how the gun is held or carried by its owner.
Depending on your state, concealing a gun in public can be a crime. About 15 states do not prohibit concealed carry, but the rest require you to obtain a permit first. Some states make it very difficult to obtain a permit.
Carrying a gun openly in public can pose a problem by intimidating those around you. In about five states, open carry is prohibited entirely, 15 states require permits or licenses, and around 30 states allow it without a permit.
What Is the Punishment for an Illegal Firearm Possession Conviction?
While the Second Amendment grants the right to bear arms, that right is not absolute. If you carry a gun in violation of any of the above restrictions, you could face serious legal consequences. Additionally, if you carry a gun while committing another crime, you are likely to face harsher punishments.
Someone who has been convicted of a felony is almost always prohibited from carrying a gun, and being a felon in possession of a firearm carries stiff penalties. In most states, a felon can regain gun possession rights so long as they are not deemed dangerous to public safety, and restoring the rights is not against the public interest.
Do I Need an Attorney if I Have Violated an Illegal Weapon Law?
If you are charged with violating a state’s illegal weapon law, it is highly recommended that you contact a criminal lawyer. Your defense can only be fully explained and assisted by them. Gun possession or gun charges are especially serious and should not be taken lightly because of the penalties and possible consequences.
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- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia