7 Craziest Gun Laws in America
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In Missouri, it’s no longer a crime for an intoxicated person to handle or fire a gun, so long as they were acting in self-defense.
Federal law prohibits licensed firearms dealers from selling a shotgun or rifle to anyone under 18, or handguns to anyone under 21. Still, some states impose minimum age limits that go below these federal limits.
For instance, in Vermont, it’s legal to sell a handgun or rifle to 16-year-olds. It’s legal to sell a rifle to a 16-year-old in Maine, Alaska, Minnesota or New York. In Montana, the legal age is 14, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a non-profit organization that tracks state gun laws.
4. Eight states have (symbolically) asserted their freedom to be exempt from federal gun regulation
Current federal gun laws set baseline standards regarding the sale and possession of guns. For instance, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act requires licensed gun dealers to perform background checks on prospective gun purchasers. And agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives can conduct warrantless inspections of any licensed gun dealer – although, as we’ve previously noted, its authority has been hamstrung in recent years.
Still, eight states have passed resolutions stating that guns made and manufactured in-state shouldn’t be subject to federal regulation: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Arizona, Tennessee and Alaska.
The Montana gun activist behind the state’s legislation, whom the Wall Street Journal profiled, explained he felt he should be “free from federal laws requiring him to record transactions, pay license fees and open his business to government inspectors.”
The states’ moves are basically symbolic. The states are still following the few federal rules that exist.
But that could change. Montana Shooting Sports Association and Second Amendment Foundation have filed a lawsuit in federal court to enforce the law.
5. Some states want to make it a crime for doctors and employers to ask about your gun
In 2011, Florida became the first state to enact a law prohibiting any health care professional from asking patients whether they own guns or store them safely. A federal judge later struck down the law based on free speech grounds, stating that a physician who “counsels a patient on firearm safety…does not affect or interfere with the patient’s right to continue to own, possess or use firearms.”
Other states have followed in Florida’s footsteps: Alabama and North Carolina have introduced similar legislation in the last year.
In 2010, Indiana made it easier for people to store guns in their vehicles in a workplace parking lot. A year later, Indiana passed a law allowing job applicants and current employees to sue a private or public employer for requiring disclosure of firearm ownership or use.
6. Nearly half of states have adopted some type of “Stand Your Ground,” or “Shoot First” law
Florida and 24 other states have enacted “Stand Your Ground” laws that expand a person’s right to self-defense. Under these laws, individuals no longer have a duty to retreat to avoid confrontation in any place he or she has a right to be.
Florida was the first state to introduce such a law in 2005 – and many other states have followed suit. The law came into national spotlight when an unarmed 17-year-old teen, Trayvon Martin, was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch guard in Florida earlier this year. The shooter, George Zimmerman, was not initially charged with a crime; he has since been charged with second-degree murder and awaits trial.