A collection of relevant and timely media clips and resources.
Posted on March 24, 2004
A summary of federal
restrictions on the purchase,
sale, possession, and
of firearms and ammunition.
Caution: Firearm laws are subject to frequent change and court
interpretation. This summary is not intended as legal advice or
restatement of law. This summary does not include state or local
laws,ordinances or regulations. For any particular situation, a
licensed local attorney must be consulted for an accurate
Under federal law supported by the National Rifle Association,
the use of a firearm in a violent or drug-trafficking crime is
punishable by a mandatory prison sentence of up to 20 years. A
second conviction, if the firearm is a machine gun or is equipped
with a silencer, brings life imprisonment without release.
Violating firearms laws should lead to very real punishment for
violent criminals, but the laws first must be enforced.
The following classes of people are ineligible to possess,
receive, ship, or transport firearms or ammunition:
Persons under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment
for more than one year are ineligible to receive, transport, or
ship any firearm or ammunition. Under limited conditions, relief
from disability may be obtained from the U.S. Secretary of the
Treasury, or through a pardon, expungement, restoration of rights,
or setting aside of a conviction.
The following restrictions apply to firearms acquired through
purchase, trade, receipt of gifts, or by other means.
Provided that federal law and the laws of both the dealer`s and
purchaser`s states and localities are complied with:
It shall be unlawful for any licensed importer, licensed
manufacturer, or licensed dealer to sell, deliver, or transfer a
firearm unless the federal firearms licensee receives notice of
approval from a prescribed source approving the transfer.
Sale of a firearm by a federally licensed dealer must be
documented by a federal form 4473, which identifies and includes
other information about the purchaser, and records the make, model,
and serial number of the firearm. Sales to an individual of
multiple handguns within a five-day period require dealer
notification to the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms. Violations of dealer record keeping requirements are
punishable by a penalty of up to $1000 and one year`s
Sales Between Individuals
An individual who does not possess a federal firearms license
may not sell a firearm to a resident of another state without first
transferring the firearm to a dealer in the purchaser`s state.
Firearms received by bequest or intestate succession are exempt
from those sections of the law which forbid the transfer, sale,
delivery or transportation of firearms into a state other than the
transferor`s state of residence.
Temporary use of Another`s Firearm
Provided that all other laws are complied with, an individual
may temporarily borrow or rent a firearm for lawful sporting
purposes throughout the United States.
Antique firearms and replicas are exempted from the
aforementioned restrictions. Antique firearms are defined as: any
firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock,
percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in
or before 1898, and any replica of a firearm as designed above if
the replica is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or
conventional centerfire ammunition, or uses fixed ammunition, which
is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not
readily available in the ordinary channels or commercial trade, any
muzzle loading rifle, muzzle loading shotgun, or muzzle loading
pistol, which is designed to use black powder, or a black powder
substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition. (Note: Antiques
exemptions vary considerably under state laws.)
Firearms may not be mailed or shipped interstate from one
non-FFL to another non-FFL. Personally owned rifles and shotguns
may be mailed or shipped to an FFL in any state for any lawful
purpose, including sale, repair, or customizing. An FFL may ship a
firearm or replacement firearm of the same kind and type to a
person from whom it was received. Under U.S. Postal regulations,
handguns may be sent via the Postal Service only from one FFL to
another FFL, or between authorized government officials.
A person may ship a rifle or shotgun to himself, in care of a
person who lives in another state, for purposes of hunting.
Firearms or ammunition delivered to a common carrier for
shipment must be accompanied by a written notice to the carrier of
the contents of the shipment.
Transporting Firearms During Travel
A provision of federal law serves as a defense to state or local
laws which would prohibit the passage of persons with firearms in
Notwithstanding any state or local law, a person shall be
entitled to transport a firearm from any place where he may
lawfully possess and transport such firearm to any other place
where he may lawfully possess and transport such firearm if the
firearm is unloaded and in the trunk. In vehicles without a trunk,
the unloaded firearm shall be in a locked container other than the
glove compartment or console.
Federal law prohibits the carrying of any firearm, concealed or
unconcealed, on or about the person or in carry-on baggage while
aboard an aircraft.The Transportation Security Administration(TSA)
has established certain requirements for transporting firearms and
ammunition. Firearms must be carried in a locked hard sided case.
Ammunition must be declared and can be transported in checked
baggage or in the same container as the firearm as long the firearm
Any passenger who owns or legally possesses a firearm being
transported aboard any common or contract carrier for movement with
the passenger in interstate or foreign commerce must deliver the
unloaded firearm into custody of the pilot, captain, conductor, or
operator of such common or contract carrier for the duration of the
As with firearms, shipments of ammunition must be accompanied by
a written notice of the shipment`s contents. It is unlawful for any
licensed importer, dealer, manufacturer or collector to transfer
shotgun or rifle ammunition to anyone under the age of 18, or any
handgun ammunition to anyone under the age of 21.
It is illegal to manufacture or sell armor-piercing handgun
Persons who engage in the business of buying or selling firearms
must be licensed by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives of the U.S. Department of Justice. A
special class of "licensed collectors" provides for the purchase
and sale of firearms designated by the BATFE as "curios and
relics." Class III dealers may sell fully-automatic firearms
manufactured prior to May 19, 1986, and other federally registered
firearms and devices restricted under Title II of the Gun Control
Act, to individuals who obtain approval from the U.S. Secretary of
the Treasury after payment of a tax and clearance following a
criminal background check.
Violations of restrictions on Title II firearms and devices are
punishable by a penalty of up to $10,000 and 10 years
In addition to federal gun laws imposed by the National Firearms
Act (1934), Gun Control Act (1968), Firearms Owner`s Protection Act
(1986), Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993), the 1994
Omnibus Crime Control Act and other laws, most states and some
local jurisdictions have imposed their own firearms
Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.READ MORE
© 2014 National Rifle Association of America. Institute for Legislative Action. This may be reproduced. It may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.11250 Waples Mill Rd. Fairfax, VA 22030 1800-392-8683(VOTE)