I spoke recently on the topic of Federal Firearms Offenses to a group of lawyers in Birmingham, Alabama. My law partner Carl Lietz and I each periodically speak to attorneys in various parts of the country, usually in the South but occasionally in other regions as well. Carl also spoke to the same group about Internet Sex Crimes, a growing segment of crimes we now see prosecuted in federal court.
My presentation about gun cases in federal court focused on the two major crimes in this area: possession by a "prohibited person" (such as a previously convicted felon) and use of a gun during another federal crime (such as bank robbery or drug dealing). Many people are shocked as to how much time they can get for weapons offenses in federal court. In my speech to the Alabama attorneys, I focused on the law, but also discussed some tricks and tips for either winning their case altogether or at least to reduce their client's potential jail sentence.
We also discussed how gun crimes are often among the dumbest criminal episodes we ever encounter. For some reason, people seem to forget how dangerous a weapon can be. These same people are shocked when their lawyer tells them that they are facing an incredibly longer jail sentence because they brought a gun into the bank.
Finally, we discussed how the Second Amendment to the Constitution impacts federal firearms cases. Remember that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution in some ways prevents the federal government from regulating the possession and use of firearms. The Supreme Court currently has taken a case involving a Washington D.C. law that completely prohibits law-abiding citizens from even possession certain weapons in their homes. This should be an interesting decision, although it likely will not have a real big impact on the vast majority of gun crimes prosecuted in federal court.