Legal Information: Federal

Federal Gun Laws

February 25, 2016

Will the abuser go to jail for having a gun when s/he isn't supposed to?

The abuser can get jail time for having a gun in violation of the law.  Under federal law, anyone who owns, has or buys a gun in violation of the federal firearm law can be punished by a fine, jail time for up to 10 years, or both.*  However, as with any criminal case, the actual sentence the abuser gets may depend on a lot of different factors.

Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested (and convicted) for violating the law.  If the abuser has a gun or buys a gun in violation of the law, the abuser can be arrested and convicted, whether or not the abuser knows s/he was in violation of the law.  "Ignorance of the law" is no excuse or defense.**

* 18 USC § 924(a)(2)
** See, for example, United States v. Denis, 297 F.3d. 25 (1st Cir. 2002); United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999).