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Firearms trafficking – a federal offense

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2024 | Federal Offenses

With the rise in gun violence across the United States, law enforcement agencies are cracking down on the illegal movement and distribution of firearms. Understanding what constitutes firearm trafficking and when it becomes a federal offense is crucial for anyone involved in the buying, selling, or transporting of guns.

Whether you’re a gun owner, dealer, or simply someone interested in staying informed about federal firearm laws, it’s important to learn what’s illegal in order to stay on the right side of the law.

What constitutes firearm trafficking?

According to federal law, firearm trafficking involves the following actions:

  • Transporting or transferring a firearm, knowing that the recipient would use it to commit a felony.
  • Receiving a firearm, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that someone transported or transferred it with the intent to commit a felony.
  • Disposing of a firearm to a person, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the person intends to use the firearm to commit a felony.

Simply put, if there’s reasonable cause that a firearm sold, given or transferred would figure in a felony, the one who sold, gave or transferred the firearm commits a trafficking offense.

When does firearm trafficking become a federal offense?

While individual states can prosecute firearm trafficking, the offense becomes a federal crime when it involves the transportation, transfer, receipt, or disposal of a firearm across state lines or international borders.

Penalties for conviction

The penalties for firearm trafficking vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense. Firearm trafficking is punishable by up to 15 years of imprisonment and a court-determined fine. However, if the offense involves a destructive device or a firearm with an altered or obliterated serial number, the maximum imprisonment term increases to 20 years.

Firearm trafficking is a serious offense. Even authorized gun dealers can potentially face charges if they sell weapons to individuals who use the guns for crime. If you face charges, don’t underestimate them. A criminal defense lawyer with experience in weapons charges may be able to advise you of your rights and represent you in court.