A Brief Survey of Nonsensical Gun Control Laws From Around The Country

Reader Kelsey Morgan writes:

There’s no shortage of rules and regulations surrounding gun ownership and an individual’s right to keep and bear arms which are relatively universal and consistent throughout the US. And then there are those more extreme examples that are peculiar to individual states. While some of these laws may arguably make some sense, how many of these restrictions exist solely to keep law abiding Americans from exercising their Second amendment rights?

In the current heated political climate regarding gun control laws — and the potential for rolling some of those back under the new administration —  what silly regulations stand out the most?

In California, Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey, a person is only able to legally purchase one firearm a month. Ostensibly, this is an an effort to thwart criminals’ ability to “stockpile weapons.”

The majority of people who legally purchase firearms are upstanding citizens. And concealed carry permit holders are the most law-abiding demographic in the nation.

How many criminals are actually going to abide by this law in the first place? There’s more than one way of obtaining a firearm. So while law-abiders sit on their hands, waiting for the calendar to flip to legally buy another self-defense weapon, the bad guys are out there continuing to do what they please, “stockpiling” their arsenals, with zero regard for legal niceties.

In New York, it’s illegal to possess a handgun that isn’t registered with the state, even in the privacy of your own home. And there’s also no grace period for people moving into the state to register their firearms.

So even though the firearms may be legally owned, the second your moving truck crosses into the Empire State, you’re committing a crime–whether or not you intended to register your (now illegal) firearm that very same day. Which may explain why so few people move to New York.

In Massachusetts, it’s illegal for some private and for-profit gun ranges to use targets that resemble humans (AKA silhouette targets). While that may make sense if you’re there to zero in your hunting rifle, the law seems more than a little silly for anyone who purchases a handgun for the sole purpose of self and home defense.

Meanwhile, in a majority of US states, like South Carolina, it’s illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess a firearm, period. In other states, the minimum age is as high as 21. (Not purchase, by the way, to simply possess.) This includes hunting rifles for recreation and handguns for self defense.

Sure, it makes sense to regulate the purchase of guns by minors, but the fact that simply possessing one between the ages of, say, 16 to 18 is illegal is extreme. Shouldn’t lawmakers be more concerned with those social issues affecting teens like drug abuse and addiction, rather than attempting to control their ability to exercise a civil right when with an adult?

This is hardly an exhaustive list of Second Amendment-infringing laws. And I’ve excluded more “mainstream” regulations like background checks, tax stamps, fingerprinting and other requirements, the only practical purpose of which is to put up hurdles for law-abiding citizens seeking to acquire firearms and exercise a constitutionally protected right.

Anyone who’s been part of the gun-owning community and has paid attention knows that these laws do little or nothing to prevent “gun violence,” as criminals and other violent offenders will manage to get their hands on guns one way or another. Even in places with more onerous laws than we deal with in the United States.

All these laws accomplish is preventing good guys from obtaining the means necessary to protect themselves should they be victimized by bad guys. Same as it ever was.

comments

  1. avatar PROUD chicano says:

    I didn’t even know that CA law about 1 firearm per month. It’s rediculous because as the article stated and common sense goes CRIMINALS DON’T FOLLOW THE LAW.

    1. avatar Rick the Bear (now in NH!!) says:

      It’s not about criminals, unless you’re referring to new laws making responsible gun folk (i.e., us) into criminals.

    2. avatar kevin says:

      Its actually one handgun per month. You can do multiple long guns. Because nothing makes any sense.

    3. avatar efscott says:

      In CA it’s not one gun it’s one handgun per 30 days you can buy long guns till your bank forecloses on the house.

    4. avatar Mike Betts says:

      Marylanders (may our tribe of Republicans/Independents/Libertarians increase and the Democrats go to Hell) can get around the “one gun a month” rule by obtaining a Collectors License. Amazingly for the Democrapik Repblik of Maryland, it costs you nothing and you can get one online or at your FFL’s shop. Fill it out, send it in, and get as many guns as you want to add to your collection every month.

    5. avatar HP says:

      The “1 firearm a month” laws might actually help people like us keep our wallets fatter. (I’m kidding)

      1. avatar Planet_Federal_Way_Twax_City says:

        1 of any thing a month is a lot less draconian than the current house rules I live under. It takes months of talking about and showing interest in my desired heater along with bribes before I can even think about buying one.

  2. avatar Aven says:

    You might want to do a little more research. I bought 2 guns in Virginia at the last of November and the first of December last year less than 2 weeks apart. And I have done it previously. Both were new and we have both a National and State background check done (total cost of $2).

    1. avatar Officer O'Malley says:

      Where exactly are you located, right at this moment, Aven?…..

      1. avatar Aven says:

        I’ve lived in Virginia all 69 years of my life. We once had one gun a month but it went away.

        1. avatar Jmf552 says:

          Right you are. “One gun a month” was repealed in VA in 2012.

        2. avatar Rokurota says:

          Terry McA wanted to reinstate it, but that didn’t happen with the Statehouse in (R) hands. Even when the law was in effect, it didn’t apply to those with valid CHPs.

          Who do you all like for governor this year? I can’t believe Northam’s up in the polls.

  3. avatar kevin says:

    In California, you have to wait 10 days after buying to “cool off” before picking up your gun. Presumably this cuts down on heat of passion killings. You have to wait even if you already own other guns, which you could use immediately. You have to wait even if you have a CCW, which is printed with the guns you can carry, for crying out loud.

    California’s “safe handgun roster” is the Granddaddy of shitshows all by itself. Basically you can’t buy any pistol unless it’s on the “safe” list. To get on the “safe” list, your pistol now has to microstamp the shell casing with a unique number. No gun does this. Therefore, no new guns will be added to the list, ever. The number of semi-auto models available for sale in CA is about 5% of what is available in the rest of the country. For example, there are only a couple of Rugers and S&W semis available here. No Glock Gen4 guns. It’s pathetic.

    But at least we eliminated gun crime! No, wait, we didn’t. My bad.

    1. avatar Behind the lines in the PRK says:

      I was looking at police trade-in 3rd gen Glocks this morning thinking they would be OK per the roster. Just spoke to my FFL and found out only the gen 3’s stamped made in Austria are on the list. If it says U.S. on the them we can’t bring them in. I know I feel safer now.

    2. avatar Mark Horning says:

      It’s even crazier than that. C&R’s are exempt from the 10-day wait (or used to be), so if you buy a Single Shot Ruger #1 you have to wait 10 days, but can cash and carry an M-1 carbine.

  4. avatar Jeff says:

    I have the misfortune of living in New Jersey. This is one of the states where the politicians fight for illegal aliens to stay in their jurisdictions while persecuting American citizens attempting to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

    1. avatar Mr. Pierogie says:

      1 handgun per month is bad enough, but it’s the process where the “fun” really is. Requirements can vary slightly between towns, but in general it’s something like this:

      – Fill out application to obtain a permit to purchase a handgun. These are good only for 90 days and can be renewed once for another 90 days, so if you time everything just right, you can apply for and use 5 or 6 permits at once max.
      – Fill out form of consent to perform mental health records check. Some police departments required this to be submitted only once, with the initial FOID application. Now some departments require this form each time you apply for pistol permits.
      – Provide two personal references. Mine had to be notarized, but I don’t think all departments do this. As far as I know my police department does not call the references, but some do.

      Once all that is done, the wait begins. By law you should have an answer within 30 days, but this never happens. Two months is usually the minimum. It can easily be 4 months or more. If you try to inquire about the status, nobody ever has any answers. The local cops always ‘blame’ the state police or the place that performs the mental records check. Basically, everybody is lying to you because they don’t want to deal with you and they wish you never applied in the first place. But since you did, now you’re gonna be their little monkey.

  5. avatar DaveR says:

    “In California, Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey, a person is only able to legally purchase one firearm a month. Ostensibly, this is an an effort to thwart criminals’ ability to “stockpile weapons.”

    LOL. Well, the Virginia law had nothing to do with “stockpiling” and everything to do with gun trafficking. Legal buyers were purchasing large numbers of guns in bulk which were then turning up in large numbers on the streets of NY and NJ.

    “How many criminals are actually going to abide by this law in the first place? There’s more than one way of obtaining a firearm.”

    Again, the idea that these kind of laws won’t make gun trafficking more difficult is laughable. Will traffickers find another way?–of course! Will it be as efficient?–likely not.

    1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      “Legal buyers were purchasing large numbers of guns in bulk which were then turning up in large numbers on the streets of NY and NJ.”

      Source for this? *Legal* buyers’ guns don’t turn up “on the streets” in bulk anywhere.

    2. avatar Excedrine says:

      The idea that these laws will make gun trafficking more difficult is what’s actually laughable. I won’t hold my breath for you or any other gun-grabbing mongrel to turn up any evidence of this fairy tale whatsoever, either, and nor should I. None exists.

      In other words, [citation needed], because that’s patently false and has been repeatedly debunked.

  6. avatar Alan Esworthy says:

    One of the poster boys for insane firearms laws is Mark Witaschek. You can read the story at this TTAG article from 2013. Witaschek was busted for possession of a “live” shotgun shell which was actually an inoperable misfire he kept for a souvenir (yeah, not that smart, but what the hey!). This was in Washington, DC.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Yeah that’s a great example. Treating ammo as guns, or in NJ’s case, treating pretty much any air gun as a REAL gun for the purposes of charges.

  7. avatar Geoff PR says:

    There are a ton of laws, still on the books, but hopelessly out-of-date.

    One of those I recall hearing about back in the 70’s, and supposedly still on the books, was a law that required vehicle owners who approached an intersection to stop before the intersection, get out of the vehicle, and fire a gun into the air before proceeding through the intersection.

    Supposedly, that was to stop horses from being frightened by the noise from those new-fangled ‘horseless-carriages’…

  8. avatar PROUD chicano says:

    So is the new POTUS going to get started on this whole 2nd ammendment thing or what?

    1. avatar Big Bill says:

      Time is on our side.

  9. avatar blahpony says:

    The one gun a month law in VA was repealed years ago. It keeps coming back up, but always get voted down. Or left in a committee.

  10. avatar Alan Esworthy says:

    Another insane gun law in Washington DC hit me personally (no arrest, thank goodness) and was the final impetus to get me to move out of that place.

    I was a resident of the District in the early 1970s and had purchased a nice Belgian Browning Hi-Power at Atlas Sporting Goods downtown. I filled out all the necessary paperwork needed because DC required handguns be registered. At the time, they also prohibited any handgun that held more than 12 cartridges unless it had been modified to only allow 12. The Browning, as you know, holds 13 in the mag (stainless Canadian mags hold 14). I carved a piece of hard rubber so that it fit inside the mag spring right above the plate, sized just right so only 11 rounds could be loaded. Believe it or not, this kludge passed the inspection I had to submit to to get that particular model registered.

    Then along came DC Home Rule in 1975 and the complete ban on handgun possession, even in the home, unless previously registered guns were re-registered no later than 1976. So I dutifully disassembled the Browning, wrapped the pieces and put them in a box, then wrapped the box, and tied it securely. Why? That was the legally mandated method of transporting a handgun outside the home. “Disassembled, and securely wrapped and tied.” I went down to the District Building and up to the appropriate office, and told the cop at the counter why I was there.

    “What kind of handgun ya got, boy?” he asked.
    “Browning Hi-Power, officer, and I’ve got the mag plugged to take only 11 rounds,” I replied.
    “Haw-haw-haw! Yew cain’t register that one boy! Ain’t legal anymore!”
    “Why not?”
    “We changed the law so that the modification to limit the rounds to 12 now has to be a permanent modification! Haw-haw-haw!”

    So I moved to Maryland. AARRRGGGHHH! I’m in Florida now, so all’s mostly well.

  11. avatar Waffensammler98 says:

    That one about South Carolina surprised me. How the hell does anyone teach their kids to shoot or hunt? Also I can one-up the given Massachusetts example, because I’m 99% sure it’s a felony to possess ammunition or components without a valid FOID card there.

    1. avatar UnPC Aussie says:

      I’m amazed by that too, here in Australia most states will allow kids to get a licence at 10 or 12 at the lastest and a few used to have no age limit on when the kids can start shooting under supervision just on when they can get a licence. No kid can buy a gun until they turn 18 though so that means a parent also has to get a licence so the kids can have “their” guns in their parent’s name until they are old enough.

      Then again we also let kids drink at almost any age and let them buy their own once they hit 18…

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      In MA, a 14 year old can be live-fire trained by an LTC holder.

    3. avatar Daniel in SC says:

      If it’s never enforced at all, asC has some very strange laws on the books that go way back.

  12. avatar Specialist38 says:

    People Control is the intent of all Jim Crow laws – relating to guns or anything else.

    Most governments just want people to shut-up and OBEY!

    They’ll let you know when your rights have been abused. Just ask them.

  13. avatar Oliver says:

    You are all lucky. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, NYC( When guns are outlawed…then you must be in NYC):

    For Handguns:
    You can only purchase 1 pistol per 3 Months.
    You must first file a Request to purchase with the NYPD. In person. Between the hours of (something massively inconvenient only on certain days, I can’t remember)
    You will then be notified by mail within 6 weeks ( maybe longer) if your request has been granted.
    You must then pick up your Purchase Authorization in person.
    You must then purchase your handgun within 30 days, otherwise it expires.
    You then have 3 days to bring said handgun to the NYPD (unloaded, with trigger lock and in a locked case of course) to be inspected and registered.
    You can only keep your gun at the address listed on your permit and when taken to the range, which must be in NYC.
    You cannot take your handgun to a range outside of NYC. Not even New York State. If you want to take it upstate, once again, you must purchase a hunting license and then take it to the NYPD where you can pick up your Hunting Authorization Card. With that you may then go upstate with your handgun. But not out of state. Yes, New Jersey has no legal problem with you bringing over your NYC registered handgun to use at a range in NJ, but NYC does. How they will ever know without you saying, I don’t know, but evidently NYPD regulations supersede Federal Regulations regarding interstate commerce. Don’t ask me how, but this has been upheld in court.
    You cannot sell your handgun to anyone without the approval of the NYPD.
    If you wish to leave NYC for good with your handguns, you must first get permission to do so from the NYPD.
    If you leave NYC for good and take your guns with you to Vermont where their jurisdiction does not reach, without notifying the NYPD, doesn’t matter. There will be a warrant out for your arrest. You are now a fugitive.
    And of course, No reason is necessary for a police officer to confiscate your license and handguns.
    Everything that I have said is accurate as of March, 2017.

    For more fun facts, visit: http://newyorkcityguns.com/
    This site is run by Glenn Herman, one of the good guys.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      Seems like it would be easier to just join the NYPD. Even if they require a polygraph, which they undoubtedly do, it’s still less hoops to jump through.

      1. avatar Oliver says:

        It would be. Except that you are now stuck with a Glock or S&W with an abysmal 12+ Pound trigger pull and a subnormal partner who shoots with a hit probability of 17%.

  14. avatar RCC says:

    As unpc says you can legally shot in Australia from 10 or 11 depending on the state. No one asked my age when I started at 8 or my son at 7.

    California is strange- I found it easier to buy in Australia than California post 9/11 attack.

  15. Come one – no one has mentioned “melting point” laws?

    In Illinois, and several other states, it’s illegal if specific parts of your gun deform at 700 degree or less

    Google “melting point laws” for specifics.

    1. avatar Scoutino says:

      The melting point law sucks. I wanted to get .22 LR Rough Rider revolver for my son. Not possible in Illinois because it has zinc alloy frame.

  16. avatar Jon in CO says:

    There’s been a lot of research to suggest that low income areas are the most crime infested. I think we can mostly agree on that. The problem is, poverty doesn’t make crime, it’s the other way around. The proliferation of crime is what inevitably leads to poverty.

    Now, I’m comfortable to say that a good portion of these absolutely ridiculous laws were put in place by people who generally meant well. They truly believed they could make a difference in the affected areas, even the entire state. Where the issue lies, is at what point to be look back and say these things aren’t working anymore, and reverse the damage? I know, some people WANT it that way, but I would like to think there’s enough decent people to tip the scales in favor of freedom.

  17. avatar Oliver says:

    Oh, goofy gun laws, ok. Despite the totalitarian gun laws in NYC, black powder cap and ball handguns are not considered to be firearms. You can walk into any one of the few gun stores in Queens and buy one over the counter and carry it around if you want. It just can’t be loaded.

    Oddly enough, black powder muzzle loaders are however considered to be firearms and must be registered and you also need to acquire a permit. Bet you didn’t know that!

    Also if and when you do get your handgun permit you are now obligated to buy at least one handgun otherwise you forfeit your permit.

    Does this make any sense? Does it make sense that a Wookie comes from the planet Endor? Of course not.

  18. avatar Oliver says:

    Oh yeah, pellet guns of any sort are completely illegal in NYC. Doesn’t matter if you have a handgun license and own a LAR Grizzly in .45 Win Mag. That’s ok. A single shot Crossman air rifle? That’s practically an assault weapon buddy.

    Like I said, it’s the Planet Endor over here.

  19. avatar Oliver says:

    Ok this one isn’t a gun law, but what the hell I’ll throw this one in. There is one foolproof way to literally get away with murder or manslaughter in NYC. If you train yourself to kill someone with one blow from a punch it can only be prosecuted as simple Misdemeanor assault. I kid you not. Look it up. A old man was beaten to death in just such a manner a few months ago by a thug and the prosecutor here can’t do a thing about it. Absolutely nothing. Horrible yes, considering that it’s 3 years mandatory minimum if you come here accidentally packing heat with an out of state CCW and the NYPD find out about it. But on the other hand, if you really really hate someone, and you train your ass off to deliver one lethal blow with your mitts, even if it’s the Pope, you get away Scott free!

    Like I said, the planet Endor.

    1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      [citation needed]

  20. avatar Pat Carver says:

    In New Jersey, a slingshot is considered a firearm!

  21. avatar AaronW says:

    I don’t agree with the South Carolina law, but it only applies to handguns, and it has clear exceptions for handgun usage by a minor while under adult supervision.

  22. avatar Gman says:

    “Sure, it makes sense to regulate the purchase of guns by minors,”

    WHY? I bought my first gun with green stamps at age 12. The nice gent at the counter asked me two questions.
    Does your Dad know you’re here?
    How many boxes of ammo do you want?

  23. avatar B72512ga says:

    When I think of all the laws, I think of how much things have changed. Around 1968 I was a kid walking down the road in Woodbridge, VA with my BB gun after getting a bottle of coke and some chips. A police officer pulled up and asked me what I was doing. I was a bit nervous, but told him I was going to the wood to shoot the BB gun. He looked at me and said “have fun, but be careful, those the BB’s will sometimes bounce back off those thick bottles”. Now they’d arrest the kid, call social services, notify the JTTF, search the house, interview the neighbors, check social media accounts, send the gun to the lab to attempt to link it to unresolved vandalisms, and test the soda for illegal drugs.

    1. avatar Stinkeye says:

      “Now they’d arrest the kid…”

      Depends on the jurisdiction. Some places, they’d just shoot the kid.

  24. avatar TommyJay says:

    I got started in CA about 18 mo. ago, and some of the regs. didn’t seem so bad to me, but others are ridiculous or a PITA. I actually think it is sensible to have your pistol locked when stored in the house. The regs recommend that ammo be stored far away from the firearm, but it’s not required. I bought a fingerprint safe and keep a loaded mag in the safe w/ the pistols.

    Laughably, they have a convoluted spec. for authorized safes including sheet metal gages, minimum number of combo-lock combinations etc. Mercifully they also have a list of authorized models. And yes, many of the listed models don’t meet the specs. including mine.

    Unquestionably, the lack of semi-auto handguns authorized for sale is the big mess. They (CA DOJ) have handgun features they desire such as: mag-trigger interlocks, chambered round indicator, manual safety (which I like), and a 10 round mag limit.

    My Walter P22 has a chamber view port but not an indicator. The Browning BuckMark has neither. The Springfield XD 9mm does not have a mag-trigger interlock or manual safety. They are all legal. But if I want a compact Ruger semi-auto pistol, the only choice is an LC380. It does have all of those safety features. So does a Ruger LC9s (the one I want) with a chamber view port and no indicator; yet it is illegal.

    There is a CA DOJ reg. that each and every handgun model be subjected to a certification process at the CA DOJ. I’m guessing the there is some amount of ring kissing and cash exchanged in that cert. process.

  25. avatar Roy says:

    I think that one firearm per month law is actually intended to keep people from making a job out of doing straw purchases.

  26. avatar Roadrunner says:

    1. BB guns treated like firearms
    2. Duty to retreat
    3. Justifiable need to carry
    4. No stopping for gas or to pickup friends on the way to range
    5. Firearms classified as assault weapons based on cosmetic features
    6. No hollow points outside your property
    7. Smart gun requirement

  27. avatar matt says:

    the 1 handgun a month law got killed by the sleazebag bobby mcdonnell in virginia(it was the only decent thing the guy did) and there was never a limit on rifles and shotguns

    1. avatar Aven says:

      I agree he was a sleazebag but he was less dangerous to us and our freedom than our McAwful that is there now.

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