Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Firearms
These guidelines can be used to prosecute people who illegally purchase firearms or people who use firearms in the commission of a crime. The penalty for an offense is usually a statutory sentence mandated by the government. This means that there will be no negotiations for a lighter sentence.
What Do the Sentencing Guidelines Prohibit?
The primary purpose of the U.S. Firearms Sentencing Guidelines is to keep firearms out of the hands of people who have been deemed ineligible to use them. The government refers to these people as “prohibited persons.”
A prohibited person is not allowed to purchase, sell, trade or possess firearms, ammunition or certain materials related to firearms. Although the right to own firearms is protected by the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a person can lose their right to possess firearms if he or she:
- Has been convicted of a felony.
- Has been diagnosed with mental health issues.
- Has been shown to have illegal substance abuse issues.
- Has been dishonorably discharged from the armed services.
- Has renounced his or her United States citizenship.
Firearms Violation Punishments
There are many different activities covered by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for firearms. Due to the serious nature of firearms offenses, anyone involved in a firearms crime can be prosecuted, not just the person who attempted to illegally obtain a firearm. Some examples:
- Anyone who attempts to use false information to illegally obtain a firearm or ammunition may be subject to federal prosecution and, if convicted, could face 10 years in federal prison.
- If a prohibited person, such as a convicted felon or illegal alien, is found to be in possession of a firearm, that person may be subject to prosecution and could face ten years in a federal penitentiary.
Defending against firearms charges is difficult but possible. A common strategy is to file a motion to suppress evidence introduced by the prosecution, such as the discovery of a firearm during an illegally conducted search.