Federal Firearm Charges

Federal firearm charges are brought against individuals who unlawfully possess, purchase, sell, or use guns when the sale or transport of those firearms cross state lines. There is a wide range of federal gun charges, which are found in 18 U.S.C. § 922 and 18 U.S.C. § 924. 

Prohibited Individuals in Possession of a Firearm or Ammunition 

Certain individuals are prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law. A conviction is punishable by federal imprisonment for up to 10 years. 

Prohibited individuals include: 

  • Convicted felons 

  • Drug users or addicts 

  • Lawful or unlawful immigrants 

  • Individuals convicted of a domestic violence offense or subject to a domestic violence restraining order 

  • Minors under the age of 18 years of age (for the purchase of a rifle or shotgun) 

  • Individuals less than 21 years old (for the purchase of a firearm other than rifle or shotgun) 

  • U.S. military veterans who were dishonorably discharged 

  • Individuals who renounced their U.S. citizenship 

Additionally, if a person knowingly sells, disposes, or gives away any firearm or ammunition to a prohibited person, a conviction carries a maximum federal prison term of 10 years. 

Illegal Possession of a Firearm 

Except as authorized by federal law, there are certain weapons that are prohibited. Common examples include machine guns and fully automatic weapons, destructive devices (e.g., bombs, missiles, rockets, etc.), short-barreled (“sawed-off”) rifles and shotguns, and any firearm silencer.  

A first conviction carries a maximum federal prison term of 10 years. However, possession of a machine gun during the commission of a separate offense is punishable by a mandatory minimum federal prison sentence of 30 years. 

Carrying or Using a Firearm During a Drug Trafficking Offense or Violent Crime 

Possession or use of a gun during the commission of a violent crime or drug trafficking carries mandatory minimum sentences. These sentences are based on whether the firearm was used when the crime was being committed. 

Possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime or drug trafficking is punishable by a mandatory minimum federal prison term of five years. Brandishing or displaying a firearm during the commission of a violent crime or drug trafficking carries a mandatory minimum federal prison sentence of seven years. 

Possession of a short-barreled rifle or shotgun during the commission of a violent crime or drug trafficking is punishable by a mandatory minimum federal prison term of 10 years. Discharging or shooting a gun during the commission of a violent crime or drug trafficking carries a mandatory minimum federal prison sentence of 10 years. 

A first offense for possessing a machine gun or destructive device during the commission of a violent crime or drug trafficking is punishable by a mandatory minimum federal prison term of 30 years. A second or subsequent offense carries a mandatory minimum life sentence. 

The Sale of Illegal Firearms 

Not only is it illegal under federal law to sell illegal firearms (such as the weapons mentioned above), but it is also illegal to sell firearms to prohibited individuals. A conviction carries a federal prison term of up to 10 years. 

Selling Firearms Without a License 

In order to sell a firearm, you must obtain a license from the government. If you sell a gun without a license and the firearm crosses state lines, you may face federal charges. A conviction is punishable by federal imprisonment for up to 10 years. 

Straw Purchase of a Firearm 

A straw purchase means purchasing a firearm under false pretenses, misrepresenting your identity, or making a false statement to a gun dealer, which is a federal crime. A conviction carries a maximum federal prison sentence of 10 years. 

Possession of a Stolen Firearm 

Possessing or transporting a stolen firearm or ammunition is one of the most highly enforced and regulated federal firearm offenses. A first conviction is punishable by federal imprisonment for up to 10 years. 

Possession of an Altered or Removed Serial Number 

Gun owners must preserve the serial number on all firearms. Anyone who knowingly possesses, transports, or delivers a run with an altered or removed serial number, a conviction is punishable by federal imprisonment for up to 10 years. 

Possession of a Firearm in a School Zone 

School campuses are considered “gun-free zones.” Knowingly carrying a firearm on a school campus carries a federal prison sentence of up to five years. 

If you have been accused of committing a federal gun crime in Massachusetts, New York, or New Hampshire, call Brad Bailey Law at (617) 500-0252 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Attorney Brad Bailey is a former state and federal prosecutor with more than five decades of trial-tested experience! 

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