Although the United States Constitution grants citizens the right to keep and bear arms, there are a number of legal regulations that govern when and how firearms may be used. Generally, these laws are established on a state-by-state basis, although there are a number of federal statutes specific to the sale or ownership of guns as well.
Because guns are considered to be deadly weapons, enforcement of gun laws in America is taken seriously. Even if an individual has lawful ownership and possession of a gun, they may still be charged with a gun-related crime. That’s why it’s important to understand the different types of gun crimes, and how to respond should you ever face criminal charges.
When considering crimes involving guns, they can be split into two categories – crimes that involve criminal possession of a gun, and other simple crimes that become more serious when a gun is involved in the crime.
What Crimes Involve Gun Possession?
Depending on the type of weapon and the laws existing in your state, it is possible to be charged with the unlawful possession of a firearm. Some examples of this type of criminal offense include:
- Possessing an illegal firearm – certain guns are illegal to own, such as unregistered guns, guns only available to military personnel and guns that have unlawful alterations
- Felon possessing a firearm – convicted felons are generally not allowed to own firearms
- Convicted of domestic violence – like felons, those convicted of domestic violence and related offenses may not own a firearm under law
- Violation of existing gun control laws – these laws are enforced on a state-by-state basis and may include restrictions on the types of firearms that can be owned, locations of legal gun sales and waiting periods to purchase guns
There are also age restrictions on the sale and possession of guns. Typically, the minimum age for lawful ownership is 18 years of age. Although minors are, for the most part, prohibited from owning a weapon, certain states may allow possession of firearms with the appropriate parental consent.
How Can Guns Make Crimes More Serious?
In addition to unlawful possession of a gun, it is also possible to face criminal charges for using a gun to commit other crimes, leading to stricter penalties. For example, simple misdemeanor assault may be elevated to assault with a deadly weapon, which carries a jail sentence and criminal fines, if a gun was used during the assault.
Other types of crimes that are elevated when involving a gun include:
- Armed robbery
- Carjacking using a deadly weapon
- Battery using a deadly weapon
- Other theft crimes that involve the use of a firearm
Depending on the state in which you reside, you may also face criminal penalties for crimes committed using a fake firearm that appears to be real.
If you, or someone you care about, are facing criminal charges related to a gun-related offense, it’s important that you know that there are legal resources available to you and your defense.
Defending Against Gun-Related Charges
That’s where the criminal defense team at Lotze Mosley, LLP comes in. Our attorneys have expertise in a wide range of criminal defense matters, including charges related to the ownership and possession of firearms. Our firm has handled many cases throughout the greater D.C. area and can bring the highest levels of experience and expertise to your legal defense.
To schedule an initial consultation to discuss your legal defense, call the attorneys at Lotze Mosley, LLP at (202) 393-0535.