The 271 federal firearm statutes are spread through 30 of the 50
Titles of the U.S.Code. This represents an increase of four Titles
(13%) and 40 statutes (17%), since our first edition appeared in 1995,
and provides one more measurement of federal gun law.
Titles containing gun law appear in bold type.
1. General Provisions.
2. The Congress. 3. The President.
4. Flag and Seal, Seat of Government, and the States. 5. Government Organization and Employees; and Appendix.
6. Domestic Security
8. Aliens and Nationality. 9. Arbitration.
10. Armed Forces; and Appendix. 11. Bankruptcy; and Appendix.
12. Banks and Banking.
14. Coast Guard.
15. Commerce and Trade.
16. Conservation. 17. Copyrights.
18. Crimes and Criminal Procedure; and Appendix.
19. Customs Duties.
21. Food and Drugs.
22. Foreign Relations and Intercourse. 23. Highways.
24. Hospitals and Asylums.
26. Internal Revenue Code. 27. Intoxicating Liquors.
28. Judiciary and Judicial Procedure; and Appendix. 29. Labor. 30. Mineral Lands and Mining.
31. Money and Finance.
32. National Guard.
33. Navigation and Navigable Waters. 34. Navy. <repealed, now Title 10>
36. Patriotic Societies and Observances. 37. Pay and Allowances of the Uniformed Services. 38. Veterans Benefits.
39. Postal Service.
40. Public Buildings, Property, and Works. 41. Public Contracts.
42. The Public Health and Welfare.
43. Public Lands.
44. Public Printing and Documents. 45. Railroads.
46. Shipping; and Appendix.
47. Telegraphs, Telephones, and Radiotelegraphs.
48. Territories and Insular Possessions.
49. Transportation; and Appendix.
50. War and National Defense; and Appendix.
Some of the good gun laws that are virtually unknown.
18 USC § 241. Conspiracy against rights
The Gist: If two or more people conspire to injure, oppress, threaten
or intimidate any person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any
right or privilege secured under the Constitution or laws of the United
States, they shall be fined, or imprisoned up to ten years, or both.
The same penalty applies if two or more people go, in disguise, on
the highway, or on the premises of a person, with similar intent to
prevent or hinder such rights or privileges.
If death results from such acts, or if such acts include kidnapping,
attempted kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, attempted aggravated
sexual assault, or an attempt to kill, they may be fined, imprisoned
for any term of years up to life, or put to death.
Based on the plain language of this statute, it appears that such
offenses occur with respect to the right to keep and bear arms, guaranteed
by the Second Amendment. See also 18-242, 18-1001 and 42-1983.
If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate
any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District
in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured
to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because
of his having so exercised the same; or
If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises
of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or
enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured
They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten
years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation
of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to
kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated
sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this
title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or
may be sentenced to death.
June 25, 1948 (171)
TITLE 18. CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE PART I: CRIMES
CHAPTER 13: CIVIL RIGHTS
18 USC § 925A. Remedy for erroneous denial of firearm
The Gist: Anyone denied a firearm due to inaccurate information found
during a background check required by the Brady law, may file a lawsuit
against the government to get the information corrected or the firearm
transfer approved. The courts may allow the winner in such a suit
to collect reasonable attorneys fees.
Any person denied a firearm pursuant to subsection (s) or (t) of section
(1) due to the provision of erroneous information relating to the
person by any State or political subdivision thereof, or by the national
instant criminal background check system established under section
103 of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act; or
(2) who was not prohibited from receipt of a firearm pursuant to subsection
(g) or (n) of section 922, may bring an action against the State or
political subdivision responsible for providing the erroneous information,
or responsible for denying the transfer, or against the United States,
as the case may be, for an order directing that the erroneous information
be corrected or that the transfer be approved, as the case may be.
In any action under this section, the court, in its discretion, may
allow the prevailing party a reasonable attorneys fee as part
of the costs.
Nov. 30, 1993 (151)
TITLE 18. CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE PART I: CRIMES
CHAPTER 44: FIREARMS
18 USC § 926A. Interstate transportation of firearms
The Gist: This is the federal firearms transportation guarantee. It
was included as part of the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act,
to help curb abuses that had become common. Federal law guarantees
that a person may legally transport a firearm from one place where
its possession is legal to another place where possession is legal,
provided it is unloaded and the firearm and any ammunition are not
readily accessible from the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
The law doesnt say it in so many words, but the trunk is the
only non-accessible spot in the average passenger car. If a vehicle
has no separate compartment for this purpose, the firearm and ammunition
may be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.
Note that there are cases of local authorities who have not complied
with this law, creating a degree of risk for people otherwise legally
transporting firearms. It is probably also accurate to say that many
local authorities neither know nor care about this rule, and may act
outside the protections it intends for the public.
Transporting a firearm is not the same as carrying a firearm. As many
people have discovered, differing state laws make it nearly impossible
to legally travel interstate with a firearm available for protection.
See the notes on state laws and travel in the front Overview section.
Those readers who purchased this book or other books (notably,
The Travelers Guide to the Firearm Laws of the 50 States),
hoping it would somehow enable or empower them to travel interstate
with a loaded personal firearm, must contact their representatives
and begin to ask about The Lost National Right to Carry. That right
has a name, the Second Amendment, and it has essentially evaporated
for interstate travelers.
Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation
of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is
not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping,
or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for
any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and
carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess
and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm
is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported
is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger
compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case
of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the drivers
compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked
container other than the glove compartment or console.
July 8, 1986 (139)
TITLE 18. CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE PART I: CRIMES
CHAPTER 44: FIREARMS
36 USC § 40722. Functions
The Gist: The Civilian Marksmanship Program:
1Instructs citizens of the United States in marksmanship;
2Promotes practice and safety in the use of firearms;
3Conducts firearms competitions and awards trophies, prizes,
badges and other insignia to competitors;
4Controls the firearms, ammunition, and other equipment of the
5Issues, loans, or sells firearms, ammunition, repair parts,
and other supplies under sections 40731 and 40732 of this program;
6Obtains the supplies and services needed to run the program.
The functions of the Civilian Marksmanship Program are
(1) to instruct citizens of the United States in marksmanship;
(2) to promote practice and safety in the use of firearms;
(3) to conduct competitions in the use of firearms and to award trophies,
prizes, badges, and other insignia to competitors;
(4) to secure and account for firearms, ammunition, and other equipment
for which the corporation is responsible;
(5) to issue, loan, or sell firearms, ammunition, repair parts, and
other supplies under sections 40731 and 40732 of this title; and
(6) to procure necessary supplies and services to carry out the Program.
Aug. 10, 1956, Aug. 12, 1998 (100)
TITLE 36: PATRIOTIC AND NATIONAL OBSERVANCES, CEREMONIES, AND ORGANIZATIONS.
SUBTITLE II: PATRIOTIC AND NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS PART
B: ORGANIZATIONS SUBCHAPTER II: CIVILIAN MARKSMANSHIP PROGRAM
Federal gun laws serve the valuable purpose
of banning legal gun possession for certain people:
18 USC § 922 (g) <Prohibited Possessor List>
The Gist: The list that follows is often called the prohibited possessor
list. Under penalty of perjury, a citizen must claim to not be in
any of the following categories, when filling out a Form 4473, the
form usually required when purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer.
Its illegal to ship, transport, possess or receive a firearm
or ammunition in interstate or foreign commerce, by anyone who: 1has
been convicted of a crime which carries more than a one-year sentence
(except for state misdemeanors); 2is a fugitive from justice;
3unlawfully uses or is addicted to any illegal drugs; 4is
mentally defective (as determined by a court) or has been committed
to a mental institution; 5is an illegal alien, with narrow exceptions;
6has been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces; 7has
renounced U.S. citizenship; 8is under a specifically described
court order restraining harassment, stalking or threatening of an
intimate partner or partners child, or 9has been convicted
of a crime of domestic violence, as described in 18-921(a)(33).
Under (g)(9), introduced in 1996 as the Lautenberg amendment,
anyone convicted of a state or federal misdemeanor involving the use
or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly
weapon, among family members (spouse, parent, guardian, cohabiter,
or similar) is added to the list of federal prohibited possessors,
and may not ship, transport, possess or receive a firearm or ammunition
under federal law.
This marks the first time that a misdemeanor offense serves as grounds
for denial of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The
law is retroactive, affecting an unknown number of people, and no
provision is made for the firearms such men and women might already
possess. Firearms possession by a prohibited possessor is a five-year
A number of narrow conditions may exempt a person from this law, including
whether they were represented by an attorney, the type of trial and
plea, an expungement or set aside, or a pardon or other restoration
of civil rights. The conditions are specified in the definitions in
18-921. Since misdemeanors may be handled by state courts not-of-record,
some of these determinations may not be possible.
The current Congressional practice of placing unrelated laws in larger
acts, in order to get them passed without debate (or even unnoticed),
has raised concerns among many observers. This law is an extreme example
of such a practice, and caught both firearms-rights advocates and
anti-rights advocates by surprise. The law is drafted broadly, affecting
sworn police officers nationwide, the armed forces, and agencies such
as the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, Forest Service and others, most of
whom are used to being exempted from such laws. So many problems exist
with respect to this legislation that is has raised concerns unlike
any recent act of Congress. Indeed, some members reportedly were told
before voting that this language had been deleted from the final version,
and the vote was held before copies of the 2,000-page act were available
Experts close to the issues cite numerous constitutional conflicts
(indicated below in parentheses). Among these are: 1it is ex
post factoa law passed after the fact to affect former actions,
explicitly prohibited in the Constitution (Art. 1, Sec. 9); 2it
impacts the right to keep and bear arms (2nd Amendment); 3legally
owned items become subject to seizure (4th Amendment); 4it holds
people accountable to a felony without a Grand Jury indictment, represents
a second punishment for a single offense creating a double jeopardy,
and it requires dispossession of personal property without compensation
or due process (5th Amendment); 5the right to be informed of
an accusation, and to counsel and a public jury trial is abrogated
by making an existing state misdemeanor the automatic precursor to
a federal felony (6th Amendment); 6using a misdemeanor instead
of a felony to deny civil rights may be cruel and unusual punishment
(8th Amendment); 7federal authorities enter an arena historically
governed exclusively by the states (10th Amendment); 8it denies
due process, abridges the rights of U.S. citizens by state law and
denies equal protection under the law. (14th Amendment).
Domestic violence does not have a single definition at the state level.
Divorces for many years included a DV plea as routine expedient for
consummating the proceedings. Some states laws require the arrest
of at least one party if the police respond to an apparent domestic-violence
report. This raises many issues related to the judicial and plea-bargaining
process after an arrest.
An analogy to automobiles crystallizes this laws affects. It
is as if a former speeding ticket suddenly became grounds for felony
arrest if you own a car or gasoline. When a law is scrutinized for
constitutionality it is typically held up to a single provision. The
eight constitutional issues in this short piece of legislation may
set a record.
(g) It shall be unlawful for any person
(1) who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by
imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
(2) who is a fugitive from justice;
(3) who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance
(as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C.
(4) who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been
committed to a mental institution;
(5) who, being an alien
(A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or
(B) except as provided in subsection (y)(2), has been admitted to
the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (as that term is defined
in section 101(a)(26) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C.
(6) who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable
(7) who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced
(8) who is subject to a court order that
(A) was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual
notice, and at which such person had an opportunity to participate;
(B) restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening
an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner
or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate
partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child;
(C)(i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat
to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or
(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or
threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or
child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or
(9) who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of
to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess
in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive
any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in
interstate or foreign commerce.