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What are the Current Federal Gun Ownership Laws?

Updated on December 21, 2012

The current federal gun laws that apply to all states are fairly basic:

  • Guns that cannot be detected by security devices are prohibited
  • Machine guns are prohibited
  • Silencers are prohibited
  • Short barrel rifles and shotguns are prohibited
  • You cannot buy a gun legally from an unlicensed seller
  • you cannot buy a gun if convicted of domestic violence or serious crimes, if a drug addict or mentally defective
  • You can buy a gun from someone not engaged in the business of selling guns and no background check is required (loophole, I think)
  • If you buy a gun from a license gun business seller you must go under an FBI background check
  • All sellers of guns as a business must have a federal license

As you can see, federal law needs additional safeguards. Many states have additional safeguards. For instance, five states have banned guns with large capacity magazines, guns with assault rifle features (the most notable is a detachable magazine). About eight states require a gun owner to also have a gun permit. Obviously, federal law should all include these state features, yet do not.

Most guns are owned in the South, Midwest, West and last, East, in that order. By political party, 41% of Republicans own a gun while only 28% are democrat.


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    • profile image

      Paul 5 years ago

      The American People have already sounded off on this ISSUE since nothing shows intent like actual resolve! The time for polite talk, letters and discussion with complicit legislators is twenty years to late with theses brigands as they carve-up the moribund carcass of this once great nation to line their pockets with the spoils. My daughter & I just got back from the Gun Show yesterday, where I bought another case of AK-47 ammo (the supposed HIGH Power 7.62x39 version) and 30 round high capacity magazines' contrary to popular progressive belief; you do not DEFEND rights you EXERCISE them...!

      All in anticipation of Obama acting extra-legislatively, of course barring an ACT of Congress...which will probably NOT transpire in all likelihood.

      I was in good company as I have never seen so many thousands of concerned citizens chomping at the BIT to stock up on AMMO, MAGAZINES and so-called ASSAULT was a land office run as everyone there is anticipating the end game as is being pulled on the American People by Obama and company (progressive democrats). Citizens were standing in line for one hour or more after they got into the show just to purchase AMMO; by the case load from an ammunition wholesaler...AMMO was being carted out by hand truck as hundreds of citizens were purchasing thousands of rounds at a time...

      Mostly of the 5.65x45 (.223 for the AR-15) and the 7.62x39 for the AK-47 and to a lesser degree the 5.45x39 for the AK-74 (Russia's answer to the M-16) and an assortment of 9mm, 40 S&W and 45 ACP for the care and feeding of these so-called ASSAULT WEAPONS and their heinous little brothers "semi-automatic" pistols by the liberal media and Obama minions.

      December set an all time record for FBI background checks for citizens purchasing firearms as they flocked to buy mostly so-called "Assault Weapons" in anticipation of... Colorado had a 10 day backlog as there system was overwhelmed.

      They must have been the "BAD" assault weapons since they were purchased by law-abiding citizens and not the "GOOD" assault weapons Obama sent to Mexican Drug Cartels and Islamists in Libya and Syria which resulted in hundreds if not thousands of deaths from Fast & Furious and his arming of al Qaeda and his new "BFF" the Muslim Brotherhood.

      That is how the media twist's this surreal tale of the reality of the dismantling of the Republic we are all living out in real time thanks to Obama and his cronies.

      Senator Feinstein's new proposed legislation that is her oh so, liberated view of the Citizens being disarmed when she herself has had a CCW (Concealed Carry Permit) as an elite in need of personal protection while feeling she needs to deny this to ordinary citizens as the great unwashed are deserving of NO such consideration...!

      If only we were of the elitist intelligentsia that is due such consideration...NO we are only cannon fodder for the liberal agenda as citizens to be...

      TAXED to ignominy and poverty to pay for the destruction of our economy, values, nation and Constitution; so are accorded NO such privilege...

    • profile image

      Roger 5 years ago

      @perrya and his "Thanks, thought they were banned. They need to be."

      How many people that own automatic weapons with the proper permits have ever committed a firearms related offense?

      Weapons that look like military arms are mostly banned in your state of California. I guess that's why there in no violence or shootings there, right?

    • Alberic O profile image

      Alberic O 5 years ago from Any Clime, Any Place

      No problem. They are rare with the civilians though. Here's the irony what you brought up. Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 didn't ban these but the law did ban semi automatic rifles that cosmetically looked like them. Actual assault rifles, sub machine guns and other firearms that can fire automatically or 3 round bursts are covered under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986.

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago

      Thanks, thought they were banned. They need to be.

    • Alberic O profile image

      Alberic O 5 years ago from Any Clime, Any Place

      FYI, machine guns and assault rifles (rifles with selected fire) can be purchased by civilians. The paper work and background check has to be done through the ATF. If approved, you have to pay $200+ permit fee to keep these weapons. Plus, you don't get them at the price the military or police get them. They are $2000+ each not including other fees. Certain explosives are done in a similar fashion too except there is more paperwork.