The federal assault weapons ban was enacted in 1994 to prevent the manufacturing of semi-automatic firearms and weapons that could hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. It also focused on the transfer and possession of assault weapons.
The federal ban on assault weapons expired in 2004. Therefore, it is legal to possess an assault weapon. However, some states still have laws regulating the sale and possession of assault weapons. These states include California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.
Which Assault Weapons Can I Buy?
People can now purchase any of the 19 assault weapons that were banned in 1994. These weapons include rifles with characteristics such as:
- They have a pistol grip;
- They have a telescoping stock;
- They have a grenade launcher;
- They have a bayonet mount;
- They have a flash suppressor.
They also include handguns with the following characteristics:
- They weigh at least 50 ounces when unloaded;
- They possess a threaded barrel made to attach a flash suppressor, barrel extender, or handgrip;
- They have a barrel shroud that a person can use as a handhold.
Also included in that group are shotguns with characteristics such as the following:
- They have a pistol grip;
- They have a telescoping stock;
- They have a capacity of holding up to five rounds of ammunition.
Are There Gun Laws That Can Stop Me From Purchasing Assault Weapons?
It is true that the ban is no longer in effect and does not prohibit the sale and possession of assault weapons in general. However, federal and state gun control laws may still prohibit the sale and purchase of all firearms, including assault weapons, by certain people, e.g., people who are not able to pass a background check under certain circumstances.
The so-called “Brady Bill” is a federal law requiring that background checks be conducted on people before they can buy a firearm from a federally licensed dealer, manufacturer, or importer. There are exceptions to the requirement that a buyer must complete a background check.
If there are no additional state restrictions, a firearm may be transferred to a person when it is approved by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is maintained by the FBI.
In some states, if a person can prove that they passed a prior background check, they can be excused from having to complete a new NICS check. For example, when a state issues a concealed carry permit, it usually does so only after it completes a background check equivalent to the one required by the Act. Other alternatives to the NICS check include checks that precede a state issuing a permit to purchase a handgun or mandatory state or local background checks.
The Brady Bill also prohibits certain people from doing any of the following:
- Transporting any firearm in interstate commerce;
- Transporting any firearm in foreign commerce;
- Receiving any firearm that has been transported in interstate or foreign commerce;
- Possessing any firearm that affects commerce.
These prohibitions apply only to certain people, specifically the following:
- A person who has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, which is usually a felony criminal offense;
- A person who Is a fugitive from justice;
- A person who is a user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
- A person who has been determined to be “mentally defective” by a court or has been committed to a mental institution;
- A person who is an alien who is present in the U.S. illegally or unlawfully;
- A person who has been discharged dishonorably from the U.S. Armed Forces;
- A person who has renounced their U.S. citizenship;
- A person who has been ordered by a court to refrain from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or a child of their intimate partner;
- A person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor criminal offense of domestic violence; and
- A person who Is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, which is usually a felony criminal offense.
Gun control laws regulate the sale and possession of all firearms.
Can I Carry an Assault Weapon in Public?
Whether a person can carry an assault weapon in public depends on state law. Many states do allow a person to carry a concealed weapon in public. Many states also allow a person to carry a firearm openly in public.
Whether an assault weapon is one of the weapons that can be carried in public, either openly or concealed, depends on the law in the state where the person carries the firearm.
“Concealed carry” refers to laws that allow people to possess a firearm in public but not in public view. Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C., allow people to carry a concealed firearm if they have a permit issued by the state or the government of Washington, D.C. Seventeen states do not restrict in any way carrying a concealed firearm.
“Open carry” refers to carrying firearms in public places and in public view. Forty-two states allow people to openly carry either some kind of firearms or all firearms. Three states, California, Florida, Illinois, and Washington, D.C., generally prohibit people from openly carrying firearms in public.
New York and South Carolina prohibit people from openly carrying handguns, but they allow the open carrying of long guns.
Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey prohibit the open carrying of long guns but not handguns. In the remaining states, people are allowed to openly carry firearms. However, some states require that a person have a permit or license for that purpose.
Can I Be Charged With Gun Possession if I Have an Assault Weapon?
Whether a person can be charged with the violation of gun laws for having an assault weapon depends on the following:
- Whether the person knowingly has the gun in their possession;
- Whether the person does or does not have a valid legal license, they need to possess an assault weapon.
Generally speaking, if a person is a member of a group that is not legally allowed to possess a firearm, then they would not be granted a license to purchase a firearm of any kind. If they were to be found in possession of a firearm, including an assault weapon, they could be charged with illegal gun possession. For example, convicted felons are not allowed to possess guns in most states.
This is true in Texas, as in many other states. In Texas, if a person has a felony conviction on their criminal record, they are prohibited from possessing a firearm. It is likewise illegal to possess a firearm without a valid permit in most circumstances in Texas. Certain people are prohibited from possessing a firearm under any circumstances. In Texas, offenses that involve illegally possessing a firearm are referred to as the “unlawful possession of a firearm.”
Do I Need Legal Help With Regard to Assault Weapons?
The area of law governing assault weapons is constantly changing in response to changing attitudes towards gun control. Thus, it is easy to become mistaken about a particular gun law and end up being charged with illegal possession of an assault weapon.
If you are unsure whether you can possess an assault weapon, you want to consult a criminal defense lawyer. LegalMatch.com can connect you to a lawyer who can explain the law in your state and federal laws regarding assault weapons. You do not want to guess whether you can possess an assault weapon. By talking to a lawyer, you can make sure that you are abiding by the applicable laws.
If you have been charged with a firearm offense, your lawyer can help you in defending against the charge.