Federal Gun Laws
The enactment of laws relating to gun permits is mostly left up to each individual state. Federal law does not mandate that a person must carry a firearm and nor does it deny them the right to carry. There are also no rules under Federal law for concealed carry firearms permits or licenses for US citizens. The only area Federal law affects state law is on who a permit to carry a concealed weapon can be issued to.
The majority of Federal laws that relate to firearms are based on the following Acts;
- National Firearms Act (1934) - Type II weapons need to be registered.
- Federal Firearms Act (1938) - Prohibits transfer of weapons to certain persons. Dealers required to have license.
- Omnibus Crime Control & Safe Streets Act (1968) - Interstate handgun trade banned, Minimum age increased to 21 to purchase handgun.
- Gun Control Act (1968) - Interstate gun transfers prohibited except for dealers.
- Firearm Owners Protection Act (1986) - Prohibits sale of automatic weapons to civilians.
- Undetectable Firearms Act (1988) - Bans sale, possession of guns with less than 3.7oz metal content.
- Gun Free School Zones Act (1990) - Prohibits possession of firearm in school zone.
- Brady Handgun Violence Prevention act (1993) - Background checks required on gun purchases.
- Federal Assault Weapons Ban (1994) - Banned large capacity magazines, expired 2004.
- Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (2005) - Dealers and manufacturers of firearms exempt from negligence claims.
Persons Banned From Firearm Possession
The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Federal Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 makes it illegal for a person who fits into any of the following categories to receive or possess a firearm. These laws prevent the State from issuing a Pistol Permit because it would be illegal for people who fit in these categories, by Federal law, to own or possess a gun.
- Fugitives from justice
- Persons who are unlawful users of or are addicted to narcotics or any other controlled substances
- Persons adjudicated as a mental defective or who have been committed to a mental institution
- Persons who have been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one (1) year
- Persons who are under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one (1) year
- Military veterans discharged under dishonorable conditions
- Persons who have renounced U.S. citizenship
- Aliens illegally in the U.S.
- Persons subject to a court order that restrains them from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner
- And persons convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
Federal Off-Limit Areas Even With a Permit
- Federal Courthouses*
- Federal Buildings*
- Any Building - Owned, Leased or Rented by the Federal Government. This includes buildings in National Forests which are property of the Federal Government. There is no Federal Law that prohibits carry in National Forests. States control the carrying of firearms in National Forests in their state.
- Federal Prisons*
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers* - The Corps builds and runs flood control and navigation Dams. The Corps has jurisdiction over the Dam Site and usually all waters backed up by the dam. Carry anywhere on Corps property is illegal. Firearms can be unloaded and secured in a vehicle while on Corps Property.
- National Cemeteries*
- Military Bases - Firearms are forbidden on military bases even unloaded and secured in a vehicle. Carry not allowed. Some have shooting clubs. You can take firearms onto the Base to shoot if allowed by the base. Certain rules/regulations must be met before bringing firearms onto a Military Compound. Check at each Military Post for specific rules on Shooting Clubs.
- Rented Offices - Any part of any building that the Federal Government has rented for Office space or work force etc. Just their offices or the part of the building they have control over. You can carry in the rest of the building if state or local laws allow.
- Amtrak - will have a system in place to check firearms/Ammo in (Amtrak Firearms Policy)
- Post Office - Postal regulations prohibit the possession of firearms in their buildings and in their parking lots or any property they own.
- Bureau of Land Management* - If you can legally carry in the state the BLM land is in you can carry on the BLM land. If it is not legal the area will be posted as no firearms allowed. Any building on the BLM land operated by the federal government is considered federal property and carry in those buildings is not allowed.
- Indian Reservations - Carry on Indian property is controlled by Tribal Law. You must check with each tribe before carrying on their property. Some Indian Tribes consider federal and state highways through their property as under their control.
* This includes parking lots adjacent to or part of the facility if the Federal Agency/Entity owns or has control of the parking lot and it is posted “No Firearms”. The lot has to be posted under federal law if they do not wish to have firearms present.
Gun Control Act - 1968
In 1968 Congress enacted the Gun Control Act. The Act denies the right to felons, illegal aliens, and other persons to purchase or possess a firearm. It also requires States to do a thorough background check on all persons applying for a firearms permit to ensure they are not a banned person under the Act. In 1994 the Act was strengthened by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act which set up a FBI database to allow States to do an instant background check on persons purchasing a firearm or applying for a carry permit.
Federal Gun Free School Zones Act
Congress passed the Federal Gun Free School Zones Act to prevent guns being carried near schools. The law makes it illegal for a person (even with a permit/license) to carry a firearm within 1000 feet of any K-12 school. There are exemptions in some states if you have a permit that allows you to leave the firearm in a locked vehicle and out of sight while on school property. However, these exemptions do not carry over to other reciprocity states you may travel to. Congress will need to address at some point in time the fact that the law does not provide protection for concealed carry permit holders or law enforcement officers.
Firearm Owners Protection Act - 1986
To allow gun owners to travel through states where they would not be legally entitled to possess a firearm the Firearm Owners Protection Act was passed in 1986. This Act allows a person to transport a firearm through states they do not have a permit in as long as they have a valid permit in the state where their trip began and in the state their trip ends. The owner of the firearm must be in transit and not stay in the state where possession would be illegal. Furthermore, the firearm must be unloaded and placed in a locked container.
The Act does not allow the owner to use their firearm for defense during transit. You should also avoid New York State as the Police in that state do not acknowledge this law and will arrest you for illegally possessing a firearm.
Law Enforcement Officer's Safety Act - 2004
The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, code 926B and 926C was passed by Congress in 2004.
The Act gives the right to any current or retired law enforcement officer to carry a concealed firearm anywhere in the United States. It overrides any state or local laws but there are some exceptions. To meet the criteria you must be a "qualified law enforcement officer" or a "qualified retired law enforcement officer" as defined in the Act.
- Is authorized to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of, or the incarceration of any person for, any violation of law, and has statutory powers of arrest;
- Is approved by the authority to carry a weapon;
- Is not the subject of any disciplinary action by the agency;
- Meets the criteria if any, accepted by the authority which requires the officer to regularly qualify in the use of a weapon;
- Is not under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating or hallucinatory drug or substance; and
- Is not forbidden by federal law from receiving a weapon.
- Retired from serving with a public authority as a law enforcement officer, other than for reasons of mental instability;
- Before such retirement, was approved by law to operate in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of, or the incarceration of any person for, any infringement of law, and had legal powers of arrest;
- Prior to retirement, was regularly working as a law enforcement officer for an aggregate of 15 years or more; or
- Retired from service with such agency, after completing any applicable probationary period of such service, due to a service-connected disability, as determined by such agency;