A felony firearm charge can be considered a crime in its own rite or can enhance the penalties in a felony case.  A felony firearm crime may involve unlawfully carrying a firearm when a felony crime was attempted or committed.  It is also a felony firearm crime for a convicted felon to possess a firearm at any time.  A person can also be charged in a felony firearm case when they knowingly purchase a firearm for a felon, an offense called “straw” purchasing.  Any act of readying a firearm for a crime is also a felony firearm crime. 

The laws governing the penalties for felony firearm crimes vary by state and the specific circumstances of the crime.  By definition, a firearm is a weapon that is designed to expel a projectile by the action of smokeless or black powder.  Any attempted or committed felony act during which the offender uses or threatens use of a firearm will increase the severity of the offender’s subsequent penalty.  The penalty enhancement for a felony firearm charge varies by state.  As a general rule, a person who commits a felony firearm offense will face two to five additional years of imprisonment and heavier punitive fines. 

A felony firearm charge can also be brought against convicted felon who is found in possession of a firearm, regardless of the intended or actual use of the weapon.  It is considered illegal in every state for a convicted felon to be in possession of a firearm.  The offense level for this type of felony firearm crime also varies by state but is greater when the gun is loaded, kept or used unlawfully.  In this case, a felony firearm offense is a crime punishable by additional imprisonment, fines, and other penalties depending on the nature of the original offense and the circumstances of the felony firearm charge.

It is also a felony firearm crime to purchase, or otherwise handle, a firearm with the intent of furnishing it to a convicted felon.  Not all states have a specific legal statute which makes this felony firearm offense a crime.  This does not mean that a person who commits this felony firearm offense will not be tried for his/her actions.  In states with specific statutes regarding this type of felony firearm offense, the accused may face up to 10 years in prison and up to $25,000 in punitive fines. 

Obliterating the serial numbers on a firearm is also considered a felony firearm offense in many states.  Obliteration of this firearm code prohibits later ownership identification.  The purpose of this firearm felony crime is to ready a gun for a crime or carryout some other unlawful firearm offense.  Each state has a different law regarding this felony firearm offense: some have no specific code, some regard this as a misdemeanor crime, and others regard this as a more serious crime. 

Statistics indicate that the federal government is cracking down on felony firearms offenses with increasing strength.  Ninety four percent of the increase in federal firearms prosecutions between 2000 and 2003 came from cases involving the unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and the use or possession of a firearm during a felony act.  If you would like to learn more about felony firearm crimes, please visit the South Carolina Attorney Directory to locate a qualified and experienced attorney in your area.