What are weapons offenses?

Weapons offenses are violations of statutes or regulations that control deadly weapons. Deadly weapons include firearms and their ammunition, silencers, explosives, and certain knives. About 2% of arrests nationwide in 1993 were for weapons offenses.

All States, some localities, and the Federal Government have criminal laws concerning deadly weapons, including restrictions on their –

  • possession
  • carrying
  • use
  • sales or trafficking
  • manufacturing
  • Importing and exporting.

Many of these laws are specific to firearms. For example, in 1994 all States and the District of Columbia had statutes concerning the carrying of firearms; some required permits to carry a concealed weapon, and some prohibited open carrying of firearms.

Federal law regulates the importation, manufacture, and distribution of firearms; bans certain firearms such as machine guns and semiautomatic assault weapons; and prohibits the sale of some firearms to restricted classes of people, including convicted felons and juveniles.

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