Blog Jay Leiderman Law

What You Need To Know About Gun Laws in the US

The United States Constitution, through its Second Amendment, guarantees the right of Americans to bear arms. The right to own a gun, however, is not absolute. There are laws—both state and federal—that cover and limit the ownership of firearms. Here are some facts that you need to know about gun laws in the United States.

you cannot legally own a gun if you are a convicted felon

Not everyone can legally own a gun

Under federal law, you cannot legally own a gun if you are any of the following:

  • A convicted felon sentenced to a prison term of more than a year
  • A fugitive from justice
  • A drug user or addict
  • Declared by a court as mentally ill or have been committed to a mental institution
  • An illegal immigrant
  • Dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces
  • A former US citizen who renounced his/her citizenship
  • Subject to a court restraining order issued on behalf of your ‘intimate partner,’ your partner’s child, or children
  • Convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
pistol, rifle, 18 years old, felon, immigrant, dishonorable discharge

Notwithstanding the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, guns are prohibited for certain persons and under certain circumstances

Not legally allowed to own guns means no ammunition or “ammo,” also

If you cannot legally own a gun, you are also prohibited from buying or owning bullets. In fact, possessing a single, live bullet can already get you in trouble since no minimum amount of ammunition has been set such that a prohibited person is safe from prosecution.

Age restrictions apply

Anyone under 18 is not allowed by federal law to possess a handgun or handgun ammunition, subject to limited exceptions. Conversely, federal law doesn’t set a minimum age for owning long guns (rifles and shotguns) or ammunition for them.

Background checks

If you want to buy a gun, you have to undergo a background check. Licensed firearm dealers are required by federal law to run your information through the national background check system to determine whether or not you are eligible for gun ownership. But if the dealer doesn’t get a notification about your eligibility or ineligibility within three business days, he or she can legally sell you the gun of your choice.

NRA, shotgun, bolt action, pump action, blue steel, drugs, alcohol, hunting, second amendment, weapon

The National Firearms Act or NFA prohibits machine guns, short-barreled (sawed off) shotguns and silencers.

Not all types of firearms are fair game

The National Firearms Act (NFA) has certain restrictions in place on the sale or possession of machine guns, short-barreled shotguns, and silencers. If you want to purchase any of these so-called NFA firearms or devices, you have to undergo a thorough background check, buy a tax stamp for manufacturing the firearm or device, and log it with the NFA registry of the ATF.

If you find yourself facing charges of illegal gun possession and you think your Constitutional right to bear arms is being violated, you should get the services of a gun lawyer immediately so you can discuss your legal options. You should also do the same if you are being accused of other gun-related crimes.


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Blacks on the witness stand in Georgia in 1962: The Unsworn Statement

The unsworn statement

Slaves in Georgia suffered indignities even in church.

Jay, I read your your twitter

I was very interested in the one picture you posted about how slaves collecting the offering in church had to have one hand behind their back to keep them from stealing.

Most jurors didn’t know about the unsworn statement”

When I was in Georgia in the Summer of 1963 and again in 1964 through 1966, there was something called the “unsworn statement.”  I don’t know if it exists anymore.  It stemmed from the days of slavery when you could not have a black person take the “great oath” as they were deemed incapable of adhering to it.  [1]  Even so, occasionally the white man needed black man’s court testimony; for example, when the black man was present when Captain Bob and Mr. John made a business deal but now argued over terms and the black man was present while he was serving them dinner.  So they put him on the stand and he told his story.  Cross examination was not allowed since he wasn’t under oath.
In modern times it was used by white attorneys to put black defendants on the stand to give a “lawsy, lawsy Mr. White Man, I sho is a bad n***** and sho am sorry for whut I done did.”  The equivalent of the “slow plea” today.

However, the attorney for whom I worked, C. B. King,  [3]used the unsworn statement for a very different purpose.  We would put a defendant on the stand who couldn’t withstand a good cross examination and that defendant would tell his story.  The DA was not allowed to cross-examine.  Most jurors didn’t know about the unsworn statement and felt that since the DA didn’t cross-examine it might just be the truth.  Hey, it was one of the very few ways that we could get an all-white jury (all juries were all “all-white juries” at that time) to believe a truthful African American client.

all juries were all “all-white juries” at that time


Dennis Roberts, Attorney at Law

370 Grand Ave., Suite 1 

Oakland, CA 94610-4892 

(510) 465-6363 (Phone)

(510) 465-7375 (Fax)



Reference notes:

[1].  Interestingly enough, Aboriginies in Australia have basically the same law at present:

Unsworn Statements and Traditionally Oriented Aborigines. Aborigines may be particularly disadvantaged in the courts either as defendants or as witnesses.[519] These difficulties may prevent an Aborigine adequately presenting his or her version of the facts to the court both in evidence in chief and in cross-examination. In particular, problems arise with cross examination through incomprehension of questions or reluctance to reject suggestions or propositions put by persons in authority.[520] The option of an unsworn statement may assist in resolving this problem. A Select Committee of the Legislative Council (SA) investigating these questions reported that:

The Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement, supported by three Adelaide counsel … submitted … that a special case could be made out for Aboriginal defendants in particular for whom the unsworn statement ought to be retained. They referred to a number of judgments in which it had been recognised that Aboriginal persons faced special problems in relation to the administration of justice. In oral submissions to the Committee, the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement emphasised that, because of these particular difficulties, cross-examination was not necessarily a tool which could always be used effectively to establish veracity. Consequently the abolition of the unsworn statement would help neither the Aboriginal accused nor the interest of society as a whole.

[2] A slow plea happens when a defendant has a bench or “judge” trial, knowing he will be found guilty.  Facts are often agreed to before trial.  A “slow plea” trial is done just to preserve one or two issues for appeal.  Sometimes issues are waived if trial did not go forward. Often the judge will not order jail time to be served until after the appeal has been decided.  As a defendant is entitled to a jury (even if that defendant is black) a slow plea is the choice of the defendant.

[3] The hypertext links in CB and King are separate and distinct.  They lead to two separate authorities on him.

The first courthouse in the deep South was named after C.B. King: “The C.B.King United States Courthouse is located at the corner of West Broad Avenue and Washington Street in the original downtown section of Albany. It was named in 2000 for Chevene Bowers King, a pioneering African American attorney, civil rights leader, and politician in Georgia.”

Addendum to fn [3] from Dennis:

“When I was invited to speak at the dedication I spoke about what an honor it was for the black community and what a great fighter against injustice and to ease the burdens of black folk. But then I paused and said “I wonder how Attorney King would feel knowing they applied his name to a building he referred to as a ‘Temple of Injustice’ “

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Someone posed as a member of Anonymous to bully into not posting his conviction online

A Seattle man was arrested Friday after authorities say he threatened Dallas-based to remove a court decision he was involved in. is a website that aggregates state and federal court documents, including this Seattle man’s 2011 conviction for fraud and obstruction in Canada. He ran a scam to make credit cards in his name and then used them to shop at luxury car dealerships, according to previous articles.

Read more here.

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Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio found guilty of criminal contempt of court

Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s own words were the linchpin in the case against him, his quotes cited more than 20 times in a federal judge’s ruling that found him guilty of criminal contempt of court.

In a verdict filed Monday morning, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said evidence demonstrated Arpaio’s flagrant disregard for another federal judge’s order that halted his signature immigration round-ups.

Read more here.

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Anxiety and addiction have more in common than a lot of people realize. They can both fester for years, sometimes flying under the radar and rearing their ugly heads in times of crisis. Anxiety exacerbates stress while addiction poses as a coping mechanism — and left unchecked, especially combined, the two can make every other facet of life almost too much to bear.

Fortunately, there is always hope. We spoke to a few recovering addicts who told us about their struggles with anxiety and addiction, and how going to treatment to get to the root of their problems changed their lives for the better.



Photo credit: Pixabay

Anxiety at work led Alonzo to return to old habits

So often it’s our professional lives that cause us the most stress. We live to work, work to live, and if there are any money or workload issues along the way, we’re left to our own devices to adapt. Alonzo had three years of sobriety under his belt when he relapsed, and he said job anxiety was a major factor.

“Overworked, staying late. Normally at the bar is where most of the contractors would meet, so we would drink and snort cocaine and make bad decisions,” he recalled.

It was his wife who noticed the biggest change in him — not only with his risky behavior, but his overall attitude.

“She recognized my passion for helping others stopped,” Alonzo explained. “It was all about work, work, work, money, money, money. When she started seeing it was just all about me, she started saying, ‘I see you going in the same direction. You probably want to put that in check.’”

When he decided to enter addiction treatment, Alonzo made the commitment to himself to make sobriety stick. He noted that an important part of his recovery was accepting that we all struggle sometimes, and there’s nothing wrong with letting others know.

“I had a problem with being vulnerable,” he confessed. “It’s OK to be weak. That’s when you tell somebody, ‘Hey, I’m really struggling.’ That’s really when you’re strong, because you won’t fall. You’re just being vulnerable and being open and saying, ‘Hey, I’m having a tough time right now. I’m having a tough time handling this situation.’”

We all like to believe we can handle whatever life throws at us, but the truth is each of us needs help sometimes. Perhaps the real secret of anxiety is that there’s strength in numbers… if only you reach out.


“While I was out there using, I was full of anxiety, suffered from low self-esteem, emotional immaturity and was narcissistic. On the other hand, underneath all that was a decent, compassionate man. The more I reflected on my life and attitudes and was willing to change, that man came forward.” – Jeff, mental health and recovery advocate


Treatment helped Matt see the truth about his substance abuse

Matt said his alcohol addiction fell into a vicious cycle:

“Every couple of years or so, I just continued to relapse. My relapses were short but devastating to the family, of course.”

Despite the recurring bouts of drinking, he explained he wasn’t ready to truly accept that there was a problem. After some long talks with his wife, Matt agreed to enter alcohol rehab despite his reservations — and it was there that he finally found clarity.

“I’ve come to the realization after some sessions with my therapist that the issues that were causing me to relapse were ones I didn’t even know about — things that I could remember, but I really did not understand the gravity of how that could impact someone’s life,” he said.

Not only does he better understand his past and the way it affected his life later on, Matt has come to realize that the future can be much, much brighter.

“I’m very optimistic and excited about the fact that I can go back out there and not live in that state of anxiety that I didn’t even know I was living in,” he said. “As an alcoholic, you learn how to adapt to the way you feel, and it feels normal.”

Even those of us who haven’t been diagnosed with a substance use disorder or anxiety can feel inspired by Alonzo and Matt’s journeys. They were stuck in lives that made them miserable, but they made the decision to fight back and ultimately, they overcame. Recovery and happiness are within reach for us all, so don’t ever hesitate to ask for help finding them.


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