Gun Possession Without a Permit Lawyers

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When Can I Legally Possess a Gun Without a Valid Permit?

In 2010, the Supreme Court issued a very important ruling regarding guns in the case of McDonald v. Chicago.  In that case, the court held that U.S. citizens have an individual right to possess guns.  This basically clarified the right to bear arms as listed in the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. 

Previously, it was highly contested as to whether the right to bear arms applied only to “well-regulated militias” or to individual citizens.  After the McDonald decision, an individual’s right to own a gun is now well-established.  As a result, most gun laws now focus on other aspects besides ownership, such as carrying a concealed weapon or the “open-carrying” of handguns.

The McDonald case also resolved any doubts left by another important gun control case, Columbia v. Heller, which upheld the right to bear arms for “federal enclaves” such as the District of Columbia.  In McDonald, the courts basically extended the individual right to bear arms to all states, not just federal enclaves.   

On the other hand, the Supreme Court specifically stated that both the McDonald and Heller decisions will not interfere with any existing statutes and regulations.  The 2nd Amendment right to bear arms is not an absolute right- it does not mean that a person can carry or use a gun in any manner or for any purpose that they choose.  Individual citizens must still abide by state statutes that require permits for the carrying of guns, whether concealed or not.  For example, statutes that prohibit convicted felons from using guns are still in effect.  

Thus, you should be aware that each state has different laws when it comes to gun possession.  In most states you don’t actually need a permit simply to own a gun; however, in some states and for certain persons, an ID card or license may be needed to possess a gun. 

Are There Any Exceptions to Laws That Require a Permit to Carry a Gun?

Laws that forbid the possession and carrying of handguns will often include limited exceptions, meaning that there are certain places where it is legal to carry a handgun without a valid permit or license to do so.  These exceptions are generally limited to when you are:             
             1.  in your home, or
             2.  in your place of business

Again, these laws may vary widely by state or even by local jurisdiction; you may wish to consult with a lawyer if you have issues regarding the gun laws in your immediate area.

Possession of a Gun In the Home:

Even in jurisdictions where it is illegal to carry a gun without a valid permit, you may be allowed to do so in your home.  The law recognizes the importance of protecting one's home and often makes this exception where the carrying of a gun without a permit is otherwise illegal. 

Your home may or may not include your residential dwelling that you own or rent, though ownership alone may not satisfy the exception.  Courts will not generally extend this exception to property that you own but do not live in.  This exception also does not include possession of a gun when you are in someone else's home. 

Possession of a Gun in Your Place of Business:

Laws that make the concealed carrying of a gun without a valid permit illegal will often include an exception for when you are in your place of business.  This exception is designed to allow the protection of your business and your ownership interest in that business.  What constitutes a "place of business" will be determined by the court and is often an area of debate when a gun possessor claims to fall within the scope of this exception.

Should I Consult an Attorney if I Have Been Accused of Gun Possession or another Gun Offense?

If you are accused of Gun Possession or another Gun Offense, you should speak to an attorney immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses and the complicated legal system.  Gun laws have changed in the past decade, so you may wish to speak with an attorney if you are unsure of the laws in your area. 

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Last Modified: 10-06-2011 12:28 PM PDT

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