Although the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants citizens the right to carry arms, there are instances where these rights can be lost. Such instances include certain criminal offenses where a citizen has been found guilty (the person was convicted).
Federal gun possession laws define which individuals are not eligible to exercise their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.
Federal firearms laws enacted under the Gun Control Act of 1968 make the following persons ineligible to possess firearms (See Title 18 U.S.C. Sec. 922):
- Any person convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor
- Fugitives from justice
- Illegal drug users, including marijuana
- Persons who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution
- Illegal Aliens
- Persons who have renounced U.S. citizenship
- Persons dishonorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces
- Persons subject to a domestic violence restraining order
The penalties for violating the federal guns possession laws can include large fines and up to life in prison. Note that this is a total ban on owning or possessing a gun, and of course designed to prohibit openly carrying a firearm. Thus for one of these individuals to carry a concealed weapon or openly carry a handgun is a huge infraction.
The primary difference between state and federal gun laws depends on which government makes the laws and prosecutes those suspected of violating them. Further, some weapons that do not count as firearms under federal law (such as black-powder or antique weapons) are counted as firearms under Maine gun law.
In addition to federal gun laws prohibiting ownership of a federally-defined firearm, Maine firearms laws prohibit people from carrying a gun if:
- They have been convicted of a crime in Maine punishable by at least one year in prison
- They have been convicted in another state of a crime punishable by more than a year in prison (except certain misdemeanors punishable by two years or less.)
- They have committed a crime using a firearm or other dangerous weapon in Maine, any other state, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Penobscot Nation or any federal jurisdiction
- There is a domestic violence protection order against them in Maine or any other state, United States territory, commonwealth or tribe that orders them to stop hurting or threatening an intimate partner or child of an intimate partner
- They were convicted as a juvenile of a crime that would have been considered one of the offenses listed above, if committed by an adult
- They have been found not guilty of any of the crimes listed above due to mental illness or insanity
Maine law enforcement officers always ask a detained person if they have a dangerous weapon on their person, have a pistol concealed in their vehicle, or are carrying a long gun (rifles and shotguns). An officer will also ask if the detained citizen has a valid license to carry a handgun, either openly or a concealed carry permit.
Call federal guns law attorney John S. Webb in Saco or Portland and learn about your gun rights in the state of Maine, including legally how to carry a concealed handgun or obtain an open carry permit (legally carry guns in public). Mr. Webb has over 20 years experience in federal laws criminal defense and will provide legal advice during your free initial consultation.