Some samples from
Gun Laws of America




The 271 federal firearm statutes are spread through 30 of the 50 Titles of the U.S.Code. This represents an increase of four Titles (13%) and 40 statutes (17%), since our first edition appeared in 1995, and provides one more measurement of federal gun law.

Titles containing gun law appear in bold type.

1. General Provisions.
2. The Congress.
3. The President.
4. Flag and Seal, Seat of Government, and the States.
5. Government Organization and Employees; and Appendix.
6. Domestic Security
7. Agriculture.
8. Aliens and Nationality.
9. Arbitration.
10. Armed Forces; and Appendix.
11. Bankruptcy; and Appendix.
12. Banks and Banking.
3. Census.
14. Coast Guard.
15. Commerce and Trade.
16. Conservation.
17. Copyrights.
18. Crimes and Criminal Procedure; and Appendix.
19. Customs Duties.
20. Education.
21. Food and Drugs.
22. Foreign Relations and Intercourse.
23. Highways.
24. Hospitals and Asylums.
25. Indians.
26. Internal Revenue Code.
27. Intoxicating Liquors.
28. Judiciary and Judicial Procedure; and Appendix.
29. Labor.
30. Mineral Lands and Mining.
31. Money and Finance.
32. National Guard.
33. Navigation and Navigable Waters.
34. Navy. <repealed, now Title 10>
35. Patents.
36. Patriotic Societies and Observances.
37. Pay and Allowances of the Uniformed Services.
38. Veterans’ Benefits.
39. Postal Service.
40. Public Buildings, Property, and Works.
41. Public Contracts.
42. The Public Health and Welfare.
43. Public Lands.
44. Public Printing and Documents.
45. Railroads.
46. Shipping; and Appendix.
47. Telegraphs, Telephones, and Radiotelegraphs.
48. Territories and Insular Possessions.
49. Transportation; and Appendix.
50. War and National Defense; and Appendix.


Some of the good gun laws that are virtually unknown.


18 USC § 241. Conspiracy against rights

The Gist: If two or more people conspire to injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate any person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured under the Constitution or laws of the United States, they shall be fined, or imprisoned up to ten years, or both. The same penalty applies if two or more people go, in disguise, on the highway, or on the premises of a person, with similar intent to prevent or hinder such rights or privileges.

If death results from such acts, or if such acts include kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, attempted aggravated sexual assault, or an attempt to kill, they may be fined, imprisoned for any term of years up to life, or put to death.

Based on the plain language of this statute, it appears that such offenses occur with respect to the right to keep and bear arms, guaranteed by the Second Amendment. See also 18-242, 18-1001 and 42-1983.

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or
If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—
They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

June 25, 1948 (171)





18 USC § 925A. Remedy for erroneous denial of firearm

The Gist: Anyone denied a firearm due to inaccurate information found during a background check required by the Brady law, may file a lawsuit against the government to get the information corrected or the firearm transfer approved. The courts may allow the winner in such a suit to collect reasonable attorney’s fees.


Any person denied a firearm pursuant to subsection (s) or (t) of section 922—
(1) due to the provision of erroneous information relating to the person by any State or political subdivision thereof, or by the national instant criminal background check system established under section 103 of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act; or
(2) who was not prohibited from receipt of a firearm pursuant to subsection (g) or (n) of section 922, may bring an action against the State or political subdivision responsible for providing the erroneous information, or responsible for denying the transfer, or against the United States, as the case may be, for an order directing that the erroneous information be corrected or that the transfer be approved, as the case may be. In any action under this section, the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs.

Nov. 30, 1993 (151)


18 USC § 926A. Interstate transportation of firearms

The Gist: This is the federal firearms transportation guarantee. It was included as part of the 1986 Firearm Owners’ Protection Act, to help curb abuses that had become common. Federal law guarantees that a person may legally transport a firearm from one place where its possession is legal to another place where possession is legal, provided it is unloaded and the firearm and any ammunition are not readily accessible from the passenger compartment of the vehicle. The law doesn’t say it in so many words, but the trunk is the only non-accessible spot in the average passenger car. If a vehicle has no separate compartment for this purpose, the firearm and ammunition may be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

Note that there are cases of local authorities who have not complied with this law, creating a degree of risk for people otherwise legally transporting firearms. It is probably also accurate to say that many local authorities neither know nor care about this rule, and may act outside the protections it intends for the public.

Transporting a firearm is not the same as carrying a firearm. As many people have discovered, differing state laws make it nearly impossible to legally travel interstate with a firearm available for protection. See the notes on state laws and travel in the front Overview section.

Those readers who purchased this book or other books (notably, The Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the 50 States), hoping it would somehow enable or empower them to travel interstate with a loaded personal firearm, must contact their representatives and begin to ask about The Lost National Right to Carry. That right has a name, the Second Amendment, and it has essentially evaporated for interstate travelers.

Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

July 8, 1986 (139)





36 USC § 40722. Functions

The Gist: The Civilian Marksmanship Program:

1–Instructs citizens of the United States in marksmanship;

2–Promotes practice and safety in the use of firearms;

3–Conducts firearms competitions and awards trophies, prizes, badges and other insignia to competitors;

4–Controls the firearms, ammunition, and other equipment of the program;

5–Issues, loans, or sells firearms, ammunition, repair parts, and other supplies under sections 40731 and 40732 of this program; and

6–Obtains the supplies and services needed to run the program.

The functions of the Civilian Marksmanship Program are—
(1) to instruct citizens of the United States in marksmanship;
(2) to promote practice and safety in the use of firearms;
(3) to conduct competitions in the use of firearms and to award trophies, prizes, badges, and other insignia to competitors;
(4) to secure and account for firearms, ammunition, and other equipment for which the corporation is responsible;
(5) to issue, loan, or sell firearms, ammunition, repair parts, and other supplies under sections 40731 and 40732 of this title; and
(6) to procure necessary supplies and services to carry out the Program.

Aug. 10, 1956, Aug. 12, 1998 (100)





Federal gun laws serve the valuable purpose
of banning legal gun possession for certain people:

18 USC § 922 (g) <Prohibited Possessor List>

The Gist: The list that follows is often called the prohibited possessor list. Under penalty of perjury, a citizen must claim to not be in any of the following categories, when filling out a Form 4473, the form usually required when purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer.

It’s illegal to ship, transport, possess or receive a firearm or ammunition in interstate or foreign commerce, by anyone who: 1–has been convicted of a crime which carries more than a one-year sentence (except for state misdemeanors); 2–is a fugitive from justice; 3–unlawfully uses or is addicted to any illegal drugs; 4–is mentally defective (as determined by a court) or has been committed to a mental institution; 5–is an illegal alien, with narrow exceptions; 6–has been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces; 7–has renounced U.S. citizenship; 8–is under a specifically described court order restraining harassment, stalking or threatening of an intimate partner or partner’s child, or 9–has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence, as described in 18-921(a)(33).

Under (g)(9), introduced in 1996 as the “Lautenberg amendment,” anyone convicted of a state or federal misdemeanor involving the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, among family members (spouse, parent, guardian, cohabiter, or similar) is added to the list of federal prohibited possessors, and may not ship, transport, possess or receive a firearm or ammunition under federal law.
This marks the first time that a misdemeanor offense serves as grounds for denial of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The law is retroactive, affecting an unknown number of people, and no provision is made for the firearms such men and women might already possess. Firearms possession by a prohibited possessor is a five-year federal felony.

A number of narrow conditions may exempt a person from this law, including whether they were represented by an attorney, the type of trial and plea, an expungement or set aside, or a pardon or other restoration of civil rights. The conditions are specified in the definitions in 18-921. Since misdemeanors may be handled by state courts not-of-record, some of these determinations may not be possible.

The current Congressional practice of placing unrelated laws in larger acts, in order to get them passed without debate (or even unnoticed), has raised concerns among many observers. This law is an extreme example of such a practice, and caught both firearms-rights advocates and anti-rights advocates by surprise. The law is drafted broadly, affecting sworn police officers nationwide, the armed forces, and agencies such as the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, Forest Service and others, most of whom are used to being exempted from such laws. So many problems exist with respect to this legislation that is has raised concerns unlike any recent act of Congress. Indeed, some members reportedly were told before voting that this language had been deleted from the final version, and the vote was held before copies of the 2,000-page act were available for review.

Experts close to the issues cite numerous constitutional conflicts (indicated below in parentheses). Among these are: 1–it is ex post facto—a law passed after the fact to affect former actions, explicitly prohibited in the Constitution (Art. 1, Sec. 9); 2–it impacts the right to keep and bear arms (2nd Amendment); 3–legally owned items become subject to seizure (4th Amendment); 4–it holds people accountable to a felony without a Grand Jury indictment, represents a second punishment for a single offense creating a double jeopardy, and it requires dispossession of personal property without compensation or due process (5th Amendment); 5–the right to be informed of an accusation, and to counsel and a public jury trial is abrogated by making an existing state misdemeanor the automatic precursor to a federal felony (6th Amendment); 6–using a misdemeanor instead of a felony to deny civil rights may be cruel and unusual punishment (8th Amendment); 7–federal authorities enter an arena historically governed exclusively by the states (10th Amendment); 8–it denies due process, abridges the rights of U.S. citizens by state law and denies equal protection under the law. (14th Amendment).

Domestic violence does not have a single definition at the state level. Divorces for many years included a DV plea as routine expedient for consummating the proceedings. Some states’ laws require the arrest of at least one party if the police respond to an apparent domestic-violence report. This raises many issues related to the judicial and plea-bargaining process after an arrest.

An analogy to automobiles crystallizes this law’s affects. It is as if a former speeding ticket suddenly became grounds for felony arrest if you own a car or gasoline. When a law is scrutinized for constitutionality it is typically held up to a single provision. The eight constitutional issues in this short piece of legislation may set a record.

(g) It shall be unlawful for any person—
(1) who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
(2) who is a fugitive from justice;
(3) who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));
(4) who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution;
(5) who, being an alien—
(A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or
(B) except as provided in subsection (y)(2), has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (as that term is defined in section 101(a)(26) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(26)));
(6) who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
(7) who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship;
(8) who is subject to a court order that—
(A) was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had an opportunity to participate;
(B) restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and
(C)(i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or
(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or
(9) who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,
to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.


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