US Federal Firearm Laws
last updated: September 27, 2014
Firearm laws are posted here as a courtesy only and are updated as often as possible. Please check with the actual state website for any additions / revisions to law that may have been made.
The 'Protection Of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act Of 2005' laws cover manufacturers, distributors, importers and sellers of firearms to protect them from frivolous lawsuits. The bill was signed into law by then president George W. Bush.
The bill makes it illegal to sue a manufacturer, distributor or seller when one of their products is used illegally. This includes any action by anyone in the commission of a crime. The act, unlike what many liberals will tell you does not grant these business 'blanket immunity'. They can still be sued if the product is defective, the business knowingly sold the firearm to a prohibited person or the business encouraged the gun owners to misuse the firearm in a way that led to harm.
The NICS Improvement Act of 2007 was created after the shootings at Virginia Tech to better the reporting of prohibited person with mental health issues to the NICS database by states. It authorized 937 million dollars in incentives to states to improve their reporting of such people. Unfortunately the actual amount released for the program was only 50 million.
The gun control act of 1968 was a reaction by congress to the killings of John F. Kennedy and Malcom X. While congress was considering passage Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King were murderd. The bill was first stalled in both the house and the senate but was passed after second consideration. It should also be noted that this act was supported by many US gun manufacturers (Colt, S&W etc) in an effort to stop any greater restrictions from being enacted.
The 'gun control act of 1968' set federal standards for 'prohibited persons', the current FFL (federal firearms license) system as well as certain restrictions on importation of weapons and deadly devices.
It should be noted that this act was revised in 1986 (called the Firearm Owners Protection Act) to address concerns of abuse by ATF inspectors and wrongful prosecution.
Furthermore the act was amended to ban a civilian from ownership or transfer rights of any fully automatic weapon which was not registered as of May 19, 1986. The amendment also held that any such weapon manufactured and registered before the May 19 cutoff date could still be legally owned and transferred by civilians.
Lastly, in 1986 the act was amended to prohibit the US Government from keeping a registry of any non-NFA firearm.
The act was further amended in 1993, adding language from the so-called 'Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act' to create a national background check system (NICS) to prevent the sale of firearms to prohibited persons.
In 1994 the act was further amended to include the so-called 'assault weapons ban' signed into law by then president Clinton. The assault weapons ban included a suset provision that required it to be renewed in 10 years. In 2004 the sunset clause went into effect due to lack of support after many government reports showed it had little (or no) effect on gun crime and those sections were removed from the law.
The National Firearms Act of 1934 was a direct result of the roaring 20s and the age of gangsters. It restricted the ownership of fully automatic weapons, short barreled rifles and other weapons.
In 1968 the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Haynes v. United States in favor of the defendent effectively gutting the act. The court decided that one could possess one of these weapons and choose not to register it, and not face prossecution due to fifth amendment protections.
In response Congress rewrote the act to make registration of existing weapons impossible except by the government. While rewriting the law congress also tightened definitions of firearms regulated under the act and added a new category to the law 'destructive device'.
The Arms Export Control Act was enacted in 1976 giving the president the authority to control the import and export of defense articles and defense services.
Title 18, United States Code, Chapter 83 - firearms law administered by the postal service
Pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person are nonmailable and shall not be deposited in or carried by the mails or delivered by any officer or employee of the Postal Service. Such articles may be conveyed in the mails, under such regulations as the Postal Service shall prescribe, for use in connection with their official duty, to officers of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, or Organized Reserve Corps; to officers of the National Guard or Militia of a State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District; to officers of the United States or of a State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District whose official duty is to serve warrants of arrest or commitments; to employees of the Postal Service; to officers and employees of enforcement agencies of the United States; and to watchmen engaged in guarding the property of the United States, a State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District. Such articles also may be conveyed in the mails to manufacturers of firearms or bona fide dealers therein in customary trade shipments, including such articles for repairs or replacement of parts, from one to the other, under such regulations as the Postal Service shall prescribe.
Whoever knowingly deposits for mailing or delivery, or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail according to the direction thereon, or at any place to which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, any pistol, revolver, or firearm declared nonmailable by this section, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.