Weapons and Firearms Law


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What Are the Laws Affecting Guns and Other Weapons?

Gun Control and Weapons Laws deal with local, state, federal, and even international laws, regulations, and treaties regarding the sale, ownership, and use of firearms, explosives, knives, swords, and other weapons.

Gun Control Laws

Probably the biggest part of this field of law in America is gun control. While the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, what this means, exactly remains a hotly debated issue. On the one hand, pro-gun supporters argue that this provision is clear and that the government should not be able to limit weapons owned by civilians in any way (or only in very limited ways). Primarily, they argue this protects the citizenry from a repressive government taking power and allows individuals to defend themselves against crime.

Anti-gun activists, on the other hand, argue that this provision, when read in context, referred to maintaining an orderly militia. As such, they suggest that guns are not an absolute right for Americans and, in fact, that crime related to the use of firearms would greatly diminish if guns were even more heavily regulated.

This has led to a “middle ground” of laws that are neither overly restrictive nor permissive. While Americans are able to own most kinds of guns, many require special licenses. Others cannot be legally bought or sold, such as fully automatic assault rifles (though certain loopholes have allowed for the sale and ownership of parts to modify rifles to make them fully automatic). Laws also regulate where one can carry a gun and how it can be carried (i.e., openly, in a concealed fashion, or not on the person at all). These laws also affect who can legally sell guns, background checks for buyers, and restrictions on those who may have had their rights impaired by virtue of a criminal conviction or diagnoses of mental disorder.

Other Types of Weapons

Although gun laws are by far the biggest area of weapons law, other types of weapons are also regulated in the United States. For example, most explosives are not allowed to citizens without special permits. Similarly, laws affect other kinds of weapons like how long of a blade one can openly carry in public, importation of antique swords, and prohibiting certain types of knives (like switchblades or those that fire the blade as a projectile).

If you have questions about gun control or weapons laws, please visit the resources below for more information. You can also find an attorney in your area who may be able to answer your specific questions and aid you with any legal issues you may have by visiting our Law Firms page.

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Know Your Rights!

Weapons and Guns Law - US

  • ABA - Special Committee on Gun Violence

    Since 1965, the American Bar Association has sought to address the problem of gun violence and to articulate policy regarding the regulation of firearms in our society. The Association’s elected body that determines policy, the ABA House of Delegates, has on twelve separate occasions since then approved policy recommendations aimed at more closely regulating the sale, transfer, possession and manufacture of guns. These policy recommendations have been primarily directed to the provisions contained in the Gun Control Act of 1968 and desired amendments. Over the decades, the ABA addressed the issue in the context of an overall strategy to combat violent crime in our system of justice. The ABA has recognized that the issue of gun violence and its proposed solutions are a critical part, but only a part, of Association policy and strategy to reduce violent crime in our society.

  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - National Firearms Act (NFA)

    The NFA was originally enacted in 1934. Similar to the current NFA, the original Act imposed a tax on the making and transfer of firearms defined by the Act, as well as a special (occupational) tax on persons and entities engaged in the business of importing, manufacturing, and dealing in NFA firearms. The law also required the registration of all NFA firearms with the Secretary of the Treasury. Firearms subject to the 1934 Act included shotguns and rifles having barrels less than 18 inches in length, certain firearms described as “any other weapons,” machineguns, and firearm mufflers and silencers.

  • DOJ - Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968

    The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (Pub.L. 90-351, June 19, 1968, 82 Stat. 197, 42 U.S.C. § 3711) was legislation passed by the Congress of the United States that established the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA). Title III of the Act set rules for obtaining wiretap orders in the United States. It has been started shortly after November 22, 1963 when evidence in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy increased public alertness to the relative lack of control over the sale and possession of guns in America.

  • FBI - Firearms-Toolmarks Unit (FTU)

    The Firearms-Toolmarks Unit (FTU) applies valid scientific practices in the forensic examination of firearms, ammunition components, toolmarks, gunshot residue on victim clothing, bullet trajectories, and closely-related physical evidence.

  • Firearm Laws - Division of Licensing

    It is important for license holders to understand that when they are traveling in or through another state they are subject to the firearm laws of that state. We have provided links to the state laws or to the licensing authorities' Web page of each of our reciprocity states so that licensees can do the necessary planning and research when preparing to travel.

  • Gun Law - Definition

    Gun law in the United States is defined by a number of state and federal statutes. In the United States of America, the protection against infringement of the right to keep and bear arms is addressed in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. This right was affirmed in the landmark United States Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008.

  • Handgunlaw.US

    This site is owned by Steve Aikens and Gary Slider. We firmly believe in the Second Amendment, Concealed Carry and the fact that we have both a right and responsibility to take a pro-active position in our personal defense. Unfortunately, we recognize there are so many variances in our state to state laws, the average individual may have difficulty keeping up with those laws well enough to prevent them from breaking the law, especially as they travel. Since we have the ability to research those laws and create an informative Concealed Carry specific site, we have done so.

  • National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) - Guns

    The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) measures the nonfatal violent crimes of rape/sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault. Victims who experience violent crimes are asked if the offender(s) used weapons.

  • Second Amendment Foundation (SAF)

    The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) is dedicated to promoting a better understanding about our Constitutional heritage to privately own and possess firearms. To that end, we carry on many educational and legal action programs designed to better inform the public about the gun control debate.

  • The 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act

    The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which took effect in February 1994, sets minimum nationwide requirements for the sale of handguns and establishes a national criminal-background information system. Each of these thrusts of Brady involves fundamental issues of federalism.

  • The Firearms Owners' Protection Act of 1986

    Nearly twenty years after the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968, Congress in 1986 passed major legislation amending the 1968 act. The Firearms Owners' Protection Act of 1986 (PL 99-308, revised in PL 99-360), commonly referred to as the Gun Control Act of 1986, is still in effect today.

  • US Code - Gun Control Act of 1968

    The Gun Control Act of 1968, Pub. L. No. 90-618, 82 Stat. 1213 (also known as GCA or GCA68, and codified as Chapter 44 of Title 18, United States Code) is a federal law in the United States that broadly regulates the firearms industry and firearms owners. It primarily focuses on regulating interstate commerce in firearms by generally prohibiting interstate firearms transfers except among licensed manufacturers, dealers and importers.

Weapons and Guns Law - International

  • Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (NATO)

    The 50-nation Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) is a multilateral forum for dialogue and consultation on political and security-related issues among Allies and Partner countries. It provides the overall political framework for NATO’s cooperation with Partner countries in the Euro-Atlantic area, and for the bilateral relationships developed between NATO and individual Partner countries under the Partnership for Peace programme.

  • Foreign Gun Control and Foreign History - Second Amendment Project

    Independence Institute - Research Director, Dave Kopel

  • Group for Research and Information on Peace and Security (GRIP)

    In enlightening citizens and decision-makers on the often complex issues of defence and security, we aim to help reduce international tensions and strive for a safer and less armed world. Through our action, we work on the prevention of conflicts, disarmament and improvement of arms control.

  • Gun Control Network

    The Gun Control Network was established to campaign for tighter controls on guns of all kinds in Britain and a greater awareness of the dangers associated with gun ownership and use

  • Gun Laws Around The World

    Peaceful societies do not need general gun bans, and violent societies do not benefit from them. Take a look at the facts the gun-grabbers don't want you to know.

  • GunPolicy.org

    A foundation member of IANSA, the International Action Network on Small Arms, gunpolicy.org supports the global network of more than 700 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in 100 countries to curb the proliferation and misuse of illicit small arms and light weapons.

  • International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA)

    The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) is the global movement against gun violence - a network of 800 civil society organisations working in 120 countries to stop the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons (SALW). IANSA seeks to make people safer from gun violence by securing stronger regulation on guns in society and better controls on arms exports. It represents the voices of civil society on the international stage, for example in the UN process on small arms, and draws on the practical experience of its members to campaign for policies that will protect human security.

  • SAFER-Net

    The purpose of SAFER-Net is to provide current research regarding: * The impact of small arms/firearms on health and safety on an international basis * National profiles which include each country's approach to small arms/firearms regulation and efforts to prevent misuse and proliferation * Links to sources of information in academic, scientific and governmental publications

  • Saferworld

    We work to create safer communities in places affected by violent crime, conflict and the impact of small arms and light weapons.

  • Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) - Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe

    The availability, accumulation and uncontrolled flow of small arms and light weapons (SALW) pose serious threats to peace, stability and reconciliation in the South Eastern European region. The Stability Pact pursues the objective of developing a co-ordinated regional approach to fight the excessive and uncontrolled circulation of small arms and light weapons in the region, building on the existing processes of, inter alia, the Wassenaar Agreement, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the European Commission, the OSCE and the United Nations.

  • Small Arms Survey

    The Small Arms Survey is an independent research project located at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. It serves as the principal international source of public information on all aspects of small arms and as a resource for governments, policy-makers, researchers, and activists. The project has an international staff with expertise in security studies, political science, international public policy, law, economics, development studies, conflict resolution, and sociology. The staff works closely with a worldwide network of researchers and partners.

  • UK Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)

    The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade, together with progressive demilitarisation within arms-producing countries.

  • US Support for the Arms Trade Treaty - Department of State

    Conventional arms transfers are a crucial national security concern for the United States, and we have always supported effective action to control the international transfer of arms. The United States is prepared to work hard for a strong international standard in this area by seizing the opportunity presented by the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations. As long as that Conference operates under the rule of consensus decision-making needed to ensure that all countries can be held to standards that will actually improve the global situation by denying arms to those who would abuse them, the United States will actively support the negotiations.

Women and Their Rights to Bear Arms

  • Arming Women Against Rape and Endangerment (AWARE)

    AWARE's mission is to educate the public, organizations, and individuals about issues related to personal safety. AWARE is a source of training, information, and support for people, primarily women, learning how to cope with violence. AWARE training is focused on self-protection and self-defense skills that can enable women to avoid, resist, and survive situations ranging from low levels of aggression to extremely violent assault.

  • Association for Women's Self Defense Advance (AWSDA)

    AWSDA is dedicated to ending violence against women by providing instructor training and women’s services that educate in a wide variety of self defense and rape prevention disciplines. Our programs are designed to include self defense options ranging from empty handed self defense to use of lethal weapons. We seek to help create a safer planet where women have overcome the treatment of physical violence.

  • Women and Guns

    Women & Guns, in its dozen years, has not so much been a witness to recent history as an observant participant, recording and reflecting this part of American life that fascinates some, repels others and, most importantly, defines American women gunowners.

Gun Crimes and Gun Accident Prevention - Children

  • CDC - Youth Violence

    Interpersonal violence is defined as "the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against another person or against a group or community that results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation" (Dahlberg and Krug 2002). Research and programs addressing youth violence typically include persons between the ages of 10 and 24, although patterns of youth violence can begin in early childhood.

  • Common Sense about Kids and Guns

    We believe that all adults have a responsibility to protect children from gun-related deaths and injuries. It is vital that we recognize the risk to children of unsupervised access to guns and understand that there are common sense steps that all adults MUST take to protect children.

  • Kid's Health - Gun Safety

    Guns are in more than one third of all U.S. households, so they're a very real danger to children, whether you own one or not. That's why it's important to talk to kids about the potential dangers of guns, and what to do if they find one.

  • Moms Against Guns

    The mission of Moms Against Guns is to build a powerful constituency of women to advocate for stricter, more meaningful, common sense gun laws and their enforcement through petition, legislative advocacy and the ballot box. The vision is to demonstrate through the powerful voices of we the mothers, we the grandmothers, we the sisters, we the daughters, we the friends that gun violence in our cities will no longer be tolerated.

  • US Department of Education - Gun-Free Requirements

    Each State receiving Federal funds under any title of this Act shall have in effect a State law requiring local educational agencies to expel from school for a period of not less than 1 year a student who is determined to have brought a firearm to a school, or to have possessed a firearm at a school, under the jurisdiction of local educational agencies in that State, except that such State law shall allow the chief administering officer of a local educational agency to modify such expulsion requirement for a student on a case-by-case basis if such modification is in writing.

Organizations Related to Weapons and Guns Law

  • American Firearms Institute

    American Firearms Institute (AFI) is a response to those who would ban legal ownership of firearms in the United States. Too often the information issued by these would-be reformers is incorrect at best and blatant lies at worst; released and re-released to the media with the belief that if you tell a lie often enough people eventually believe it and it will eventually become the truth.

  • At the Frontline Against Violent Crimes

    A unique law enforcement agency in the United States Department of Justice that protects our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products. We partner with communities, industries, law enforcement, and public safety agencies to safeguard the public we serve through information sharing, training, research, and use of technology.

  • Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms

    This site discusses and provides information on the general right to keep and bear arms.

  • Gun Myths.com

    Gun Myths.com is a website dedicated to educating the general public by exposing and debunking common gun myths.

  • Gun Owners of America

    Gun Owners of America (GOA) is a non-profit lobbying organization formed in 1975 to preserve and defend the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. GOA sees firearms ownership as a freedom issue. GOA was founded in 1975 by Sen. H.L. (Bill) Richardson (now retired). Richardson continues to serve as the Chairman of Gun Owners of America, bringing his many years of political experience to the leadership of GOA. Richardson is also an avid hunter and outdoorsman.

  • Keep and Bear Arms (KABA)

    KeepAndBearArms.com is a grassroots movement of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is a call to action, a call for self-education, and a 21 gun salute to the many good men and women who fought and died to bring America into being. This web site is about helping lawful people maintain their abilities to protect themselves and the people they love effectively from anyone who would do them harm - through legal, private ownership and use of guns. We also stand for the repealing of all gun laws which infringe on the civil rights of peaceable women and men to defend their own lives and property.

  • Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA)

    The Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA) is the nation's largest non-profit, non-partisan coalition of law enforcement professionals, crime victims, and concerned citizens united for justice. With a major focus on public education, LEAA is dedicated to providing hard facts and real-world insights into the world of law enforcement and the battle against violent crime. LEAA fights at every level of government for legislation that reduces violent crime while preserving the rights of honest citizens, particularly the right of self-defense.

  • National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR)

    The National Association for Gun Rights, often referred to as "NAGR", was founded to assist the growing movement of pro-Second Amendment organizations, especially state-level gun rights groups. NAGR's strategy is simple: make the enemies of our firearms freedoms pay for every inch. While many so-called "gun rights groups" work to curry favor with politicians and the media, NAGR is working aggressively to hold politicians accountable and to put a stop to gun control.

  • National Rifle Association of America - Institute for Legislative Action (ILA)

    Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is committed to preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

  • OpenCarry.org

    A pro-gun Internet community focused on the right to openly carry properly holstered handguns in daily American life.

Publications Related to Weapons and Guns Law

  • Bloomfield Press and GunLaws.com

    Bloomfield Press and gunlaws.com are owned and operated by Alan Korwin. This is the largest publisher and distributor of gun-law books in America, nationally recognized as an expert resource in this narrowly focused niche.

  • Gun Control - New York Times

    Articles and publications regarding gun laws as presented by the New York Times.

  • Gun Facts - Your Guide to Debunking Gun Control Myths

    Gun Facts is a free e-book that debunks common myths about gun control. It is intended as a reference guide for journalists, activists, politicians, and other people interested in restoring honesty to the debate about guns, crime, and the 2nd Amendment.

  • Gun Rights Blog (NAGR)

    Your source for guns rights news and opinion.

  • Gun Week

    For 35 years Gun Week has been the newspaper of record for gun rights activists and firearms enthusiasts. The New York Post called Gun Week "The newspaper of the gun lobby," and for the most accurate, up-to-date reporting in the world of guns, there is no better source.

  • The Economist - Gun Control

    Articles on gun control, gun crimes and gun information provided by The Economist.

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