Gun Laws: Know Your Rights

by zizinya on March 1, 2013

Laws don’t change just because you have a gun. Citizens of the United States have a right to own guns, and while there are restrictions, gun owners have rights when being accused of a crime as well. In most cases, licensed gun owners are allowed to use a gun for self-defense, some recreational purposes and law enforcement. Guns are not allowed to be used to commit a crime. When this happens, the degree of the charge can escalate and turn a misdemeanor into a felony.

Know Your Rights

The U.S. Constitution protects gun rights in America. The 2nd amendment clearly states that individuals are allowed to own and bear arms. However, you may not be able to carry a hidden weapon without a special license. Federal laws also determine what age you are allowed to own a gun. At the age of 18, you can own a rifle or shotgun, but you must be 21 years or older to buy a handgun. There is a background and waiting period that must apply when purchasing any firearm.

When Rights Are Forfeit

There are people who are not allowed to own guns. If you have been convicted of domestic violence or there is a restraining order taken out against you, you can’t purchase or own a gun. Rights are also forfeit for gun ownership if you have a criminal record for any charge that has a prison term of one year or more, which is often a felony. If a judge finds you to be mentally incompetent, you can also lose your rights to gun ownership.

Degree of Escalation with Guns Involved

When you use a gun to commit a crime, the penalties often go up exponentially. States vary on how much the sentence will change, but if you fire a gun, you can face between 10 and 20 years in prison. If anyone is harmed or killed as a result of the gun being fired, the sentence increases again, in which case you can go to jail for 20 years to life.

Parole may also not be possible for those who commit crimes that use guns. If given 10 years for the crime committed and another 10 for having a gun at the time of the crime, you have to serve all 20 years without parole in states.

Criminal lawyers help dramatically when a crime involves a gun. Lawyers can reduce a sentence and argue facts in the case that will lessen the severity of the gun’s appearance in some cases. Any person facing charges with a gun involved should contact an attorney.

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