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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Last Modified: 11-01-2016 12:04 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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