What Are The Penalties For Unlawful Ownership Of A Machine Gun?

Posted on in Federal Crimes

Illinois federal crime defense attorneyEarlier this month, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed charges against a Chicago man for trafficking cocaine and transferring a loaded submachine gun. While it is fairly common to hear about drug and gun charges being filed together, machine gun charges are actually kind of rare. In fact, only about 7 percent of the more than 65,000 federal gun charges filed between 2008 and 2017 involved a machine gun.

A History of U.S. Machine Gun Laws

One partial explanation for the small number of machine-gun charges is that the federal government started cracking down on machine gun ownership following the Prohibition Era. In 1934, Congress passed the National Firearms Act, which requires anyone who buys an automatic weapon, short-barreled rifle or shotgun, or silencer to register the item, pay a $200 tax, and complete a number of other bureaucratic steps.

A half-century later, after a number of high-profile assassinations, Congress passed the Gun Control Act of 1968, and then updated it in the 1980s amid an uptick in crime. The latter limited machine gun transfers by essentially prohibiting the production of machine guns after 1986.

Today, there is a limited supply of machine guns, only about 638,000 total, in the commercial market. Still, throughout modern history, Congress has passed laws to significantly limit access to machine guns, but what are the penalties for unlawful ownership of a machine gun?

Federal Machine Gun Laws

The federal criminal code prohibits the unlawful transfer, sale or delivery, or possession of a machine gun or any other item mentioned in the National Firearms Act. The law defines a machine gun as any weapon that can shoot more than one round with a single pull of the trigger. The definition includes machine gun parts as well. If you are charged with this violation, you could face between 5 and 10 years in federal prison, along with fines and the loss of your gun ownership privileges.

Contact a Chicago, IL Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

A federal gun charge can be an intimidating and overwhelming issue to face. If you are facing a federal gun charge, you should contact an experienced Illinois federal criminal defense attorney. During his nearly 20-year career, attorney Hal M. Garfinkel has worked on both sides of federal criminal prosecutions and has worked on many high-profile cases. Contact the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel today for a free consultation. Just call 312-629-0669.



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