No matter which side of the gun debate you fall on, we can all agree that gun laws are confusing. There are federal laws, state laws, and local municipal laws, all of which can be contradictory. There is still debate as to whether the Second Amendment is intended to give individuals the right to keep and bear arms or whether that right was meant as a collective to protect the state, though rulings in the last decade have upheld an individual’s right to bear arms.
The United States is #1 for personal firearms ownership per capita by a longshot- the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population and owns an estimated 50% of the civilian owned guns in the world. That said, there are still millions of Americans who are federally prohibited from owning personal firearms. For starters, anyone under 18 years of age is prohibited from owning firearms- that’s nearly 71 million people. Also, anyone convicted of a felony- another nearly 6 million people- are prohibited from owning firearms. Illegal aliens, who make up nearly 12 million of the people in the United States, are also prohibited from owning firearms. Also prohibited from owning firearms are fugitives from justice, persons deemed to be dangerously mentally ill, drug addicts, dishonorably discharged military personnel, anyone who has renounced their U.S. citizenship, and anyone who has been indicted for or convicted of crimes punishable by over 1 year in prison.
There are also limits to the types of firearms that can be owned by individuals without special licenses. Semi-automatic handguns and rifles are legal to own, but fully automatic weapons are only legal for police, the military, and persons with special licenses. In addition there are limits to the type of ammunition that can be owned by private individuals. Learn more about federal gun laws as well as laws that vary by state from this infographic!