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Church shooting sparks talks about federal gun laws

The deadly shooting last month in a historic black church in South Carolina has sparked a number of discussions across the nation. From talks about hate crimes to gun violence, this tragic event has given our nation pause and has forced us to consider how our laws handle such crimes and whether tougher enforcement is needed.

As the Washington Post pointed out last month in one of its articles, one area of law that has fallen under particular scrutiny as of late is federal gun control laws. Under current federal law, a convicted felon is prohibited from possessing or receiving any firearms. But according to the Washington post article, some state laws are creating loopholes that put guns in the hands of felons.

As you may not know, many states, including California, allow family members to transfer firearms between other immediate family members. Here in California, as is the case in several other states, the person receiving the firearm cannot be in a "prohibited category," such as a convicted felon.

As the Washington Post pointed out though, some states don't require background checks before transferring firearms. As you can imagine, this can create major legal problems for those transferring firearms, especially if they were aware of the receiver's criminal history ahead of time.

Under federal law, if you knowingly give or sell a firearm to a convicted felon who is barred from gun ownership, then you can face criminal charges. If convicted, you can face up to 10 years in prison.

As you can probably imagine, proving you didn't know about the receiver's criminal history ahead of time may be challenging, especially with prosecutors telling you otherwise. A person in a situation like this could easily become flustered and admit to wrong doing when in fact they did nothing wrong. This is why it's important to obtain skilled legal counsel right away. They can make sure that your rights are being protected at all times and help you give your side of the story without interference from prosecutors.

Sources: The Washington Post, "The legal loophole that allowed Dylann Roof to get a gun," Jeff Guo, June 18, 2015, "Quick Reference to Federal Firearms Laws," Accessed July 14, 2015, "Frequently Asked Questions," Accessed July 14, 2015

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