Illegal Possession Of Firearms: 5 Things You Should Know
The right to possess firearms is protected under the US Constitution's Second Amendment, which permits anyone meeting the set conditions to legally purchase and own a rifle. However, the illegal possession of firearms is where the state draws the line.
This article outlines five things you should know about illegal possession of firearms. Also, you'll learn about the penalties you may face if caught on the wrong side of the law. But it helps to note that the information herein is a reference guide only. If you or someone close is facing gun violation charges, you should consider seeing a criminal defense attorney to advise you further.
BackgroundUntil 2023, individuals were mandated to undergo a background check using the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before purchasing a gun. This requirement aimed to prevent individuals with criminal histories, mental illnesses, or other disqualifying factors from obtaining firearms. However, in March 2023, the North Carolina governor vetoed a bill that eliminated statewide background checks required before purchasing weapons.
With that out of the way, here are the six things you must know about illegal firearm possession:
1. Possession Of A Firearm By FelonsIn North Carolina (NC), it's illegal for individuals convicted of a felony to own a firearm. Felonies in this state are grouped from Classes A to I, with A being the most severe, like first-degree murder, and Class I the least, like possession of marijuana.
According to North Carolina gun laws, possessing a firearm by a felon is considered a Class G felony. If convicted, the NC justice system considers it a second conviction, given that a prior felony that resulted in the ban on firearm possession was the first offense. This being the case, you could be sentenced to 12 to 26 months in prison, a punishment that increases if you have other criminal convictions.
2. Possession Of Firearms By Individuals With Domestic Violence ConvictionsAccording to North Carolina laws, domestic violence is not a felony but a misdemeanor. To that end, the law prohibits individuals convicted of certain domestic violence offenses from possessing firearms under exceptional circumstances.
A judge giving a domestic violence protective order (DVPO) may prohibit the convicted abuser from purchasing or possessing a firearm or ammunition. For acts to constitute domestic violence, the victim must prove that the aggressor:
- Attempted to cause bodily injury
- Intentionally cause bodily injury
- Placed them in fear of imminent serious bodily injury
- Put them in fear of continued harassment that inflicts significant emotional distress
If such a case is proven, the court order may deny the aggressor the right to purchase or possess a firearm. However, if the domestic violence case didn't include the weapons in the aggressor's possession, the court and the sheriff's department can't demand their surrender.
3. Open And Concealed Carry PermitsNorth Carolina allows individuals to openly carry firearms without a permit, given that they're not prohibited from possessing firearms. However, this free rein is subject to regulation by authorities, which limits the open carrying of firearms in public places like schools and parks or during events such as organized sports.
The laws also allow you to carry a gun in your vehicle without a permit. However, you may require a concealed carry permit to take firearms to places where open carry is outrightly restricted.
4. Firearms And Prohibited PlacesSome places in the US are off-limits, whether you have a concealed carry or not. Examples include law enforcement premises, correctional facilities, protests or demonstrations, and educational facilities.
Also, North Carolina gun laws don't allow you to carry guns on private property that explicitly prohibits concealed firearms or selling alcohol.
5. Penalties For Illegal Possession Of FirearmsThe penalties for illegal possession of firearms in North Carolina vary depending on the circumstances. Carrying a concealed gun without a permit is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor. This comes with penalties such as fines and possible jail time. Penalties may also vary if the weapon in your possession was used to commit a crime.
ConclusionThe illegal possession of firearms in North Carolina is a grave offense with legal consequences. If you or someone you care about is facing charges related to unlawful possession of weapons, it's vital to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney. These attorneys can help you understand your rights and navigate the legal system. Also, stay informed about the laws and regulations governing firearms possession to avoid ending up on the wrong side of the law.
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