Gun laws vary: Defend yourself against these potential charges

Gun control is an important part of keeping people safe. Each state in the United States has its own handgun possession laws, which apply to various situations differently. For instance, your state could restrict those with mental health conditions from owning a gun, or it may not have any laws restricting gun purchases at all. Some states don’t allow minors to have guns until they’re 21, and others allow them at 18. These differences can make it difficult to know where you can carry your weapon, and that could lead to accidental criminal charges that you have to fight.

Under federal laws, most states restrict gun access to those over 18, and those who have received felonies may not be allowed to own one. Certain mental health conditions may also lead to a person being disallowed from owning a gun.

Not all states require a permit or gun license, but some do, so if you have a gun and plan to travel, this is something to consider. Here’s an example. In California, if you purchase a handgun without a safety certificate, you’ll face a misdemeanor. You could go to prison for up to six months and you could be fined up to $1,000.

In Maryland, you must be 21 to own a gun. If you are underage and found without a license to carry, you could be imprisoned for up to five years and be fined up to $10,000. The crime is a misdemeanor. This varies significantly from Maine, where there is no specific penalties for those 18 or older having a handgun.

Source: OLR Research Report, “Penalties for Illegal Handgun Possession,” James Orlando, accessed July 02, 2015