US Gun Laws, in general


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StandOnGuard
October 21, 2004, 01:56 PM
Hello folks,

I'm from Canada, and I just wanted to learn about your gun laws, both federal and state.

Now correct me if I'm wrong but here's the way I understand it:

Federally:

There is no federal license to own semi-auto rifles, shotguns, and pistols. A license is required to own sawed-off shotguns and automatic firearms. There is no registry (officially) of semi-autos, but there is a registry of sawed-off shotguns and automatic firearms.

Transfers of ANY firearms from FFL dealers to individuals must involve a federal background check. This is not required for individual-individual transfers, WITHIN any given state, but between states, an seller must transfer his firearm to a local FFL, to be mailed to the buyer's local FFL, where he will take possession of the firearm after going through a federal background check. Most FFLs will charge a fee for this service.


Now state-wise:

Most states do not require a license for possession and acquisition of long arms, but do require a license for pistols. Minimum age for said licenses is usually 21.


Am I OK so far? How are the laws concerning Open Carry? I find that it is a less-often discussed issue.

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RavenVT100
October 21, 2004, 02:00 PM
Most states do not require a license for possession and acquisition of long arms, but do require a license for pistols. Minimum age for said licenses is usually 21.

Again, it depends on the state. Many states do not require licenses for long arms or pistols, others require licenses for both. Several states still have a so-called "assault weapons ban" which arbitrarily limits the types of semiautomatic long arms that can be purchased, on the basis of cosmetic features that are irrelevant to the function of the long arm.

Concealed carry laws vary drastically from state-to-state. Some states, such as Vermont, allow concealed carry with no permit whatsoever. Others, such as Mass., will put you in jail for a mandatory 5 years for carrying without a permit. Texas will allow you to CCW as long as you pass a course to get your permit. Pennsylvania doesn't require a course but requires a permit anyway. Illinois doesn't allow you to CCW at all and there is no way to get a permit. New Jersey has a provision for a permit but it is generally recognized that permits are never given to anyone, except for the very rich or employees of armored car companies.

In short, the status on CCW in the US is extremely varied, and differs from state-to-state. Consult www.packing.org for information about each specific state.

Igloodude
October 21, 2004, 02:48 PM
Am I OK so far? How are the laws concerning Open Carry? I find that it is a less-often discussed issue.

As far as Open Carry, it is less-often discussed because there is no advantage to showing that you're carrying a pistol - in most cases you are simply startling people that aren't accustomed to seeing non-police guns, and you're informing bad guys that you must be taken out before they do other bad things.

As to the law on it, RavenVT100 is right on - www.packing.org can pretty much answer all your questions.

Poodleshooter
October 21, 2004, 02:59 PM
Most states do not require a license for possession and acquisition of long arms, but do require a license for pistols. Minimum age for said licenses is usually 21.
Pretty much spot on with a few exceptions.
Very few states require licenses for possession and acquisition of pistols. Only NY,NJ,IL and maybe MA do. Only IL requires a license to acquire any firearms to my knowledge. Some states have additional waiting periods between purchase and possession.
In most states except NY, licenses to carry concealed pistols are completely seperate from the purchase process. IL does not license for carry,but merely for possession. NJ licenses for both carry and possession, but seperately IIRC.
The vast majority of US states do not require anything beyond the 1 day instant "NICS" check to purchase a pistol,and have a "must issue" concealed handgun permit that must be issued to you if you have no felony criminal record.
Overall, I'd say that IL & NJ have the strictest rules for all firearms (full registration of gunowners), with NY coming in close behind with full pistol registration.
Vermont and Alaska are probably the most permissive.

StandOnGuard
October 21, 2004, 04:29 PM
If folks here are interested, I can describe Canadian gun laws.

Henry Bowman
October 21, 2004, 04:43 PM
Please do.

PMDW
October 21, 2004, 05:12 PM
A license is required to own sawed-off shotguns and automatic firearms.

No license, you just fill out some papers.

StandOnGuard
October 21, 2004, 05:50 PM
First off, all criminal law is governed by the federal govt, and therefore is constant across the whole country. When discussing gun control in Canada, we're talking pretty much about only one bill- Bill C-68, passed in 1995, the Firearms Act. It is the talk of the town.

As of 1 Jan 03, the Firearms Act dictates that all firearms, non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited, must be registered. Before, non-restricteds did not have to be registered.

Basically, non-restricted firearms are rifles and shotguns with barrels 18.5" or longer, restricted firearms are pistols, AR-15s, short-barrelled longarms, and prohibited firearms are, for the most part, short-barrelled (4" or less) handguns (AKA section 12(6)'s).

In order to own any firearms, one must have a Posession and Acquisition License. There is a mandatory course, which takes 2 weekends, cost depending on instructor, and the license itself costs $80 for 5 years. I don't recall if it is shall-issue, but there are some pretty intrusive questions on the application.

Up until recently, whenever one transfers any firearm from one owner to another, both must call the Canadian Firearms Centre to get the transfer authourised. One of them must pay the $25 transfer fee. The transfer can be completed anywhere from immediately, to a few days. Just recently, the transfer fee has been removed.

Whenever you transport a restricted or prohibited firearm, you must have an Authorisation to Transport, or ATT, which is written permission from the CFC to move your restricted. So say I buy a handgun from a store. I have to transfer the gun into my possession. Then I have to apply for an ATT to move the gun back to my home. If I want to bring the gun to the range, I have to apply for another ATT (I can have the ATT cover all my regular trips to the range).

In order to have a license to Pos or Acq a prohib, you must have been in posession of that type of prohib (the latest is the 12.6, short barrelled handguns) the day they became prohib. You're given "grandfather" status, and can keep that gun, and buy more of that same class of gun. If, however, you sell all your 12.6's, you lose your GF status.





That pretty much sums up getting and owning. But that's not all, folks. C-68 also covers storage and transport. All NRs have to be stored unloaded, with trigger locks OR in locked opaque containers. They can be transported unlocked, however. They merely have to be unloaded. So technically, one can walk down the street with, say, an M1 Garand, wearing an ammo belt, and according to the law, that'd be fine. However, cops don't know that, and they'd probably arrest you anyhow (if they don't shoot you first).

With Rs and Ps, they must be unloaded, TLocked, and locked in an opaque container, both in transport and storage.

All magazines designed to be used with semi-auto centrefire long arms must be pinned to 5 rds (pinning meaning not easily reverted without tools, IIRC). Handguns, it's 10.

If you cut a barrel down below 18", it's illegal. If you cut a firearm down below 26", it's illegal. However, if you put a 16" barrel on an AR-15, it's OK, as you did not modify the barrel itself. But if you put a 7.5" barrel, and a collapsible stock, which IIRC makes the AR less than 26", it's illegal, as you did modify the firearm.

Open carry, forget it. Concealed carry, forget it. Apparently, there is a mechanism through which a citizen can apply for an ATC, or Authorisation to Carry, AKA CCW. But only approx 30 people in all of Communist Canada have it. They are, for the most part, Crown (federal) informants/snitches, politicians, police chiefs.


I think that's pretty much it. Feel free to ask any questions, or describe gun laws in your state.

sumpnz
October 21, 2004, 05:51 PM
I don't want to get into any flame-fests over comments like those from Igloodude, but open carry is widely accepted in certain states like Arizona, Alaska, and Vermont, and is getting that way in Virginia. AZ, AK, VT, and VA all allow permitless open carry (AK and VT also allow permitless CCW), though VA does have some restrictions on what can be carried openly. Other states may also allow open carry, but those are ones that I specifically know about.

As far as the tactical advantages of open vs concealed carry, please, let us just leave it that many of us disagree with there is no advantage to showing that you're carrying a pistol - in most cases you are simply startling people that aren't accustomed to seeing non-police guns, and you're informing bad guys that you must be taken out before they do other bad things. Besides, in some cases open carry may well be more pracitcal, or even the only legal option available.

I understand why some think open carry is bad juju. I don't agree, but that is probably becuase I live in a state where open carry is not only allowed, it is observed at least occasionally and does not typically lead to police harassment, frightened people, or bad guys taking out open carriers first. Would that we could go back to the time when only the bad guys carried concealed.

StandOnGuard
October 21, 2004, 06:02 PM
OK, how about this: how socially accepted is Open Carry? How about CCW? What percentage of the folks in your area carry either openly or concealed? If you revealed that you were carrying concealed, would you be given wierd looks?

sumpnz
October 21, 2004, 06:22 PM
Acceptance of open carry varies widely by region. Even in AZ, where open carry is legal, in downtown Tucson or Phoenix it might not be the most socially accpetable practice. You usually find people in states where it is not allowed hollering about how open carry will just frighten the "sheeple" (I hate that word) and people like me who figure that if it's allowed, you might as well make use of it and people will eventually get used to the idea, if not already. I've open carried a couple times in Tucson, though not in the "main" part of town, and no-one looked twice.

CCW rates are usually around 3-7% of the population in the states that are shall-issue. If anybody's worried about social acceptance, well concealed means concealed. No reason for anyone to know unless you want them to. Unfortunatly a lot of people are uneasy being around someone they know is armed becuase they've somehow been brainwashed to think that anybody that goes armed will "go postal" with that gun. 99.999% of the time that is frankly horse-hockey. People that get a CCW are statisically less likely to commit a crime, violent or otherwise, than a cop.

feedthehogs
October 21, 2004, 07:07 PM
No license, you just fill out some papers.

While not technicaly a license, the 200.00 tax stamp is on a certificate/form 4, you have to keep to show the firearm has been registered legaly.
The ATF has copies of those certificates/form 4s, in Chicago.

You have to notify them in writing if your address changes.
The tax stamp/registration form 4 has to be made available to any ATF agent upon request.

To me those are the same requirements of a drivers license and CCW licsense.
It just costs a whole lot more.

PMDW
October 21, 2004, 07:25 PM
To me those are the same requirements of a drivers license and CCW licsense.

Right... But it's not a license.

jefnvk
October 21, 2004, 08:39 PM
Most states do not require a license for possession and acquisition of long arms, but do require a license for pistols. Minimum age for said licenses is usually 21.

This has partially been covered above. Let me add Michigan to that list requiring registration. But, in Michigan, pistol owning age is 18 (thank goodness :p ). The process involves going to the sheriff's department, fill out a background check, and a basic quiz (consisting of questions like 'It is acceptable to point an unloaded gun at people. T/F'). They will then give you a purchase permit.

You take that permit to whoever is selling the gun, whether it be a private individual or an FFL (must be 21 to buy from them :(). They will fill out information such as the caliber, model, their name, etc. You can buy the gun right then and take it home.

Within the next 10 days, you must return to the sheriff's department, and present the form and the pistol. They make sure the purchase permit S/N and the gun S/N match, and print out a green card, saying that you legally own the gun.

jefnvk
October 21, 2004, 08:44 PM
Then I have to apply for an ATT to move the gun back to my home. If I want to bring the gun to the range, I have to apply for another ATT (I can have the ATT cover all my regular trips to the range).

So you only have to get an ATT once that will cover all your range trips, right? You don't have to get permission every time?

StandOnGuard
October 23, 2004, 01:52 AM
"So you only have to get an ATT once that will cover all your range trips, right? You don't have to get permission every time?"

Yep, once per gun, unless conditions change (ie special occasion).

carpettbaggerr
October 23, 2004, 06:58 PM
Very few states require licenses for possession and acquisition of pistols You need a permit to buy a handgun in NC. In HI, you need a permit to acquire any firearm.
A license is required to own sawed-off shotguns and automatic firearms. Actually, you have to pay a tax. Back in 1934, they knew what the 2nd Amendment meant, and Congress wasn't so comfortable abusing the commerce clause. So they camoflaged registration, and effectively banned machine guns, with a $200 tax.

In 1934, a Thompson submachinegun cost $225. A Plymouth Coupe was only $485. So the tax would be the equivalent of around $10,000 today.

StandOnGuard
October 25, 2004, 10:16 AM
from http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?threadid=107769 :

"Here is my delema. I work part time at Dicks Sporting Goods in the gun department. Today i come into work, only to see a no weapons sign on the front door. The company has never allowed me to carry on the job, but becasue of the way the ohio CCW law is worded, me so much as touching on of the guns we have for sale would be a felony in a building where the sign is posted. I told my boss this, and he agree's that the sign should not be posted, but said that this policy comes straight from the top, and that there is nothing that can be done."

Is it illegal for someone who is CCWing to touch another gun?

SodiumBenzoate
October 25, 2004, 08:19 PM
Is it illegal for someone who is CCWing to touch another gun?

No. The CCW law in Ohio allows businesses to prohibit the possession of firearms on their property. I suppose, if you are holding a firearm, you are technically in possession of a firearm.

Many states have similar CCW laws, and many states do not have such a provision.

TooTaxed
October 26, 2004, 04:25 PM
StandOnGuard, ir's reall great to see your posts. I lived in Calgary for awhile (1998-1999) and went through the process to get a Firearms Acquisition Card (FAC). A friend told me that the government was trying to make it illegal to buy any ammunition unless the buyer had a FAC. Did that come to pass?

My FAC acquisition process: after completing my Firearms Safety Course, I had to take that certificate to the Calgary Chief of Police and fill out an application for the FAC...a multi-page form that included questions like "Why do you feel the need to possess a firearm?" I had to list a number of Canadian officials who would vouch for my character...no family members permitted. The police then checked each one of my references, visited my family members and all of my neighbors, asking each of them whether it was OK with them if I had a firearm. I got the idea that if any objected, my application was dead...but everything passed, and the Police Chief endorsed and sent my application on to the federal govenment, and several months later I received my FAC by mail.

That FAC is all important...without it one cannot possess a firearm at home, cannot loan a gun to a family member or friend unless that using person has a FAC, and cannot bequest a firearm to a son or family member unless that person has his own FAC. Firearms that lose their leglity are simply collected by the police and destroyed, without any compensation.

With the FAC in hand, and after the mandatory purchase of a "Wild Game Support Card, I could then buy a hunting license (more expensive than in the States) good for one deer...if you want more deer, or another type of animal, buy another hunting license for each animal.

After being exposed to the Canadian gun laws, I promptly upped my NRA membership from Life to Benefactor, while still in Canada.

I've heard that the Firearms Act (C-68) was never voted on by the people of Canada, but was an edict from the Canadian Prime Minister following England's example. To what extent is that so? If, so, how can the people of Canada change it?

StandOnGuard
October 27, 2004, 11:17 PM
"StandOnGuard, ir's reall great to see your posts."

Thank you.

"A friend told me that the government was trying to make it illegal to buy any ammunition unless the buyer had a FAC. Did that come to pass?"

It's now illegal to purchase (or possess, I suppose) any ammunition without a PAL.

"I've heard that the Firearms Act (C-68) was never voted on by the people of Canada, but was an edict from the Canadian Prime Minister following England's example. To what extent is that so?"

Well, C-68 was a bill that, like all bills, are voted upon in the elected House of Commons, then brought to the appointed Senate to be, for all practical purposes, rubber-stamped, then finally rubber-stamped by the Queen.

"If, so, how can the people of Canada change it?"

What, civilly? :evil: Vote in a Conservative govt, which will scrap it.

Candidates representing their respective political parties run in each riding (there are 308 ridings in total). The candidate with the most votes becomes Member of Parliament (in the H of C) representing that riding. The party with the most seats becomes the party in power, and the leader of that party (assuming he wins a seat, which he usually does), becomes the Prime Minister. The PM appoints members of the Cabinet, almost always from his own party. Unlike in the US, where Cabinet members must NOT be Congressmen or Senators, in Canada Cabinet Ministers MUST be MPs.

StandOnGuard
October 28, 2004, 11:59 AM
OK, here's another question. Now I know it is illegal to brandish your concealed firearm, or otherwise reveal that you are carrying. But say you set up some sort of armed crime watch patrol, where every member CCWs. Would it be legal for these members to identify themselves as belonging to this patrol, verbally, or through the use of uniforms?

StandOnGuard
October 28, 2004, 12:34 PM
What is a Class 3 firearm? And how many classes are there?

jefnvk
October 28, 2004, 12:47 PM
The police then checked each one of my references, visited my family members and all of my neighbors, asking each of them whether it was OK with them if I had a firearm.

So, if any of your neighbors didn;t wanty you to have a firearm, they could keep you from getting one :confused: What about the people that object to any firearm ownership at all, how do they take them into consideration?

Class 3 is a machine gun, short barrel rifle, and anything that doesn't look like a gun, like a cane gun or a pen gun.

Hawkmoon
October 28, 2004, 02:20 PM
OK, here's another question. Now I know it is illegal to brandish your concealed firearm, or otherwise reveal that you are carrying.
Not so. Maybe. Certainly not everywhere.

You are falling into the trap of generalizing, which does not work in this arena. Each state has its own gun laws, and sometimes even the definitions of common words change from state to state.

Example: Texas and probably a few other states have laws against "brandishing." I have read posts by people in Texas being concerned that "printing" (allowing the presence of your concealed handgun be visible under your clothing) is a violation.

In my state, IMHO directly counter to our state constitution, NO carry is allowed without a LTC. Once you have a license, both concealed and open carry magically become legal. Thus, no concerns about "printing."

"Brandishing," however, depends on the state's definition. I'm sure there are some states that prohibit brandishing without defining it. To me (a layman), "brandishing" means holding in your hand AND waving around in a conspicuous and threatening manner. Based on posts I've seen here, some states (or some LEOs) apparently interpret just touching the grip of a holstered handgun as "brandishing."

New Hampshire, and apparently Washington (state), require a license for concealed carry but do not require a license for open carry. I believe that also applies to Arizona. Alaska has joined vermiont in not requiring a license for any personal carry of handguns. However, Alaska will still sell you a license if you ask, in order to satisfy other states' requirements for a home state license for people applying for non-resident carry permits/licenses. (See, even the terminology is different by state. In some it's a permit, in others it's a license. Some regulate concealed carry, some regulate all carry. Some regulate only handguns, some include knives. In Massachusetts, you can't even carry pepper spray without a concealed weapons permit.)

If this inquiry is at all important -- DO NOT TRY TO GENERALIZE. Unlike Canada, the US does NOT have a single, uniform set of laws covering all jurisdictions.

sumpnz
October 28, 2004, 02:34 PM
require a license for concealed carry but do not require a license for open carry. I believe that also applies to Arizona. That is correct. AZ also allows permitless concealed carry in a vehicle so long as the pistol is holstered (it can be under the seat, between the seats, velcroed under the dash, so long as it's in a holster). They also define open carry as having at least some recognizable portion of the gun visible, say a few inches of the grip.

TooTaxed
October 28, 2004, 04:19 PM
Georgia allows open carry, but concealed carry merely requires registering with the local Chief of Police to get a license. No training class is required.

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