What Sort of Firearms Aren’t Legal in the United States?

Whether or not a firearm is legal in the United States will largely depend on what state you reside in. However, there are certain types of guns that tend to be illegal to a broader degree and, in some instances, on the federal level. Below, the firearms safety and training experts from Gun Safety Training Pros, your premier choice if you’re looking to take a high-quality gun safety course online, spotlight guns that are often illegal or restricted in the United States.

Fully Automatic Weapons (with One Notable Exception)

Fully automatic guns are generally either banned altogether or severely restricted in the United States. These are firearms capable of firing multiple rounds while holding the trigger. It’s illegal to make any new fully automatic firearms in the U.S. today.

Machine guns fall under the fully automatic category, and these types of guns are also largely impossible to own, buy, or sell anywhere in the United States. Restrictions on guns of this nature were first included in the National Firearms Act of 1934.

However, the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 has one exception for these types of guns. Fully automatic weapons are technically still legal in the U.S. if they were made prior to 1986. However, owners of older fully automatic guns often have to take certain steps, such as registering their firearms with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, or ATF.

Short-Barreled Shotguns & Rifles

Another type of gun that’s illegal to own and use throughout the United States is any short-barreled shotgun with a barrel length less then 18 inches or a rifle that has a barrel length of less than 16 inches. The primary exception is if you have a taxed permit from the ATF. Once a background check and $200 tax stamp has been obtained, short-barreled firearms are legal to own. A tax stamp is need for each short-barreled shotgun or rifle.

Assault Weapons (in Certain States)

Enacted in 1994, the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act banned assault weapons in the United States for a decade. However, it expired in 2004 and hasn’t been renewed since the sunset clause kicked in.

Eight states have since passed assault weapons bans that still apply. These include California, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. The AR-15 is often thought of as an “assault weapon,” although some sources extend the definition to include semi-automatic guns intended for military use.

High-Capacity Magazines

This one applies to magazine capacity, but it can have an impact on what type of gun you can use in certain states based on how many rounds it can hold. Colorado, California, Connecticut, and Maryland are among the states that ban or restrict guns with larger magazine capacities. Some states only apply this limitation to handguns rather than long guns.

Restrictions that Could Apply Individually

The Gun Control Act of 1968 is the federal law that governs who may own firearms in the United States on a broad level in addition to what may apply in various states. For instance, you would be prohibited from buying or using any type of firearm if you were convicted of a felony in a federal or state court. Other legal restrictions apply as well under certain conditions. 

If you’re not sure about the applicable gun laws in your jurisdiction, don’t hesitate to call on the firearms education pros at Gun Safety Training Pros. We offer the highest-quality firearms safety class available, and we can answer all your questions about carrying your gun legally. If you’re looking for premier gun safety classes, reach out to the experts at Gun Safety Training Pros. Contact us today at info@GunSafetyTrainingPro.com.

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