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Crimes Involving Guns

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What Are Some Crimes Involving Guns?

Although the U.S. Constitution provides citizens with the right to own and bear arms, there are many restrictions regarding when and how guns can be used. Generally speaking, each state has its own set of laws that provide for the regulation of firearms in the state.  Since guns are considered deadly weapons, they usually can’t be used for self defense unless deadly force has been used against the person first. 

Crimes involving guns can be divided into two general categories: Crimes having to do with gun possession itself (criminal possession of a gun), and simple crimes that are made more serious due to the involvement of a gun in the commission of the crime. 

What Are Some Crimes Involving Gun Possession?

While the Constitution speaks of the right to own a gun, not everyone is entitled to own a gun. Also, not all types of guns can be owned by ordinary citizens. Some crimes that involve the possession of guns include:

  • Possession of Illegal Firearms: it’s illegal to own guns that are illegal (for example, unregistered guns, guns that have been illegally altered, or that are only available for military personnel),
  • Felon in Possession of a Firearm:  In most cases, a convicted felon is not allowed to own a gun.
  • Persons Convicted of Domestic Violence: Similarly, persons convicted of domestic violence and other related crimes usually can’t own a firearm.
  • Violations of Gun Control Laws: Each state may have unique gun control laws that place restrictions on the types of guns that can be owned, waiting periods for guns, and locations of permissible gun sales.  For example, some urban cities don’t allow the sales of small or miniature hand guns.

In addition, minors may be prohibited from owning guns.  In most states the age of majority is 18 years old. Thus, “minor in possession of a gun” is a crime in most states. However, some states, such as Texas, allow minors to possess firearms, even without their parent’s consent.

Does the Use of a Gun Make a Crime More Serious?

The use of a gun in the commission of a crime almost always makes the crime more serious and subject to stricter penalties. A misdemeanor crime will usually be “elevated” to a felony charge if a gun was used during the crime’s commission. 

The classic example of this is the comparison between simple assault and assault with a deadly weapon. Simple assault is usually a misdemeanor crime, punishable by a short jail sentence and some criminal fines. In comparison, assault with a deadly weapon (such as a gun) will result in felony penalties, including higher criminal fines and longer jail sentences. 

Other examples of crimes involving guns are:

  • Battery with a deadly weapon
  • Armed robbery
  • Carjacking with a deadly weapon
  • Other theft crimes involving the use of a gun

Lastly, some states impose criminal strict penalties for crimes involving the use of a fake gun that appears to be real. For example, if a person holds up a convenience store using a fake weapon, but the store owners believed it was a real gun, the suspect can face very serious criminal charges for the crime.

Are There Any Defenses for Crimes Involving Guns?

There may be several defenses for crimes involving guns. Of course, this will depend on the nature of the crime, as well as the criminal laws in that particular state. A common defense for crimes involving guns is that of self-defense. As mentioned, using a gun for self-defense is usually a valid defense only when the person is threatened with deadly force.

Other defenses may be available for gun crimes, including intoxication, duress, and defense of others.

Finally, be aware that the laws surrounding gun control often change. Since there is active debate regarding gun control, be sure to contact an attorney if you are unsure what the law is in your state.

Do I Need a Defense Lawyer for Help With Crimes Involving Guns?

Crimes involving guns can lead to very serious criminal penalties. In some states, being convicted of a crime involving guns can also lead to a loss of other rights and privileges. Thus, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer if you are facing charges for a crime involving a gun. Your attorney will be able to assist you during trial, and can explain your options that are available under law.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 11-01-2016 12:04 PM PDT

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