Most weapons regulations are determined at the state level of government. Laws vary in every state; therefore, if you plan to buy, sell or carry a firearm in Rhode Island or across state lines, you’ll want to clarify all laws governing such matters to avoid problems.

Have you heard of the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act?

In 1994, a new law mandated federal criminal background checks on all gun purchasers buying from federally licensed dealers, manufacturers, etc., unless special exceptions exist. Under this act, you may not have a gun if any of the following apply to your particular situation:

  • A misdemeanor court convicted you of domestic violence.
  • There’s an existing restraining order against you involving children or an intimate partner.
  • You are a U.S. citizen who has renounced citizenship.
  • A conviction on your record was punishable by more than one year in prison.
  • You’re committed to a mental institution or deemed mentally deficient by the court.
  • The U.S. Armed Forces issued you a dishonorable discharge.

All of these issues prohibit you from possessing a firearm in the United States. There are other stipulations as well, including whether you are addicted to controlled substances and/or are a fugitive from justice. The government enacted the Brady Law after then White House Press Secretary James Brady was shot during an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Rhode Island has since established a special gun court to address all legal matters concerning criminal charges involving firearms. If you’re arrested on suspicion of a drug crime, for instance, and authorities claim a gun was involved, your case will likely be adjudicated in gun court.

A key factor in successfully avoiding conviction in gun-related situations is often strong defense representation. Many defendants choose to forge alliances with defense attorneys who are highly experienced in combating the tactics and strategies of aggressive prosecutors at the trial level. In fact, a best case scenario would be acting alongside a defense attorney who has past experience as a prosecutor. Such an attorney would have insight into both sides of the system, which can help when determining which defense options best suit a particular case.