CAN MARK BORROW MY GUN?.
I have borrowed and loaned firearms all my life. People forget their shotguns on dove hunts, their rifle jams on deer hunts, and sometimes a friend just wants to borrow a gun. So, it’s common in America to let someone borrow, use, try, or otherwise handle a firearm. Hunters do it in the woods, shooters at the range, purchasers at trade shows, and kids at summer camps and in the woods.
While those scenarios happen all the time, there are other instances when people can get in trouble. For instance, criminal defendants arguing about who used whose gun to shoot a victim, an otherwise responsible gun owner having to explain how his gun ended up in a kid’s backpack at school, or one of your guns ending up in the hands of a criminal who shoots and kills someone.
So, what’s the law on letting someone borrow your gun? When should you do it?
Conflicting State Gun Laws
Where do you live? Buying, selling, or transferring ownership of a gun might be regulated in your state. Almost all states, including Georgia, prohibit possessing a gun near a school. Big cities and urban areas almost always have more restrictive laws than other areas.
As with laws governing marriage, criminal codes, and some insurance, states have vastly different gun laws. You don’t have to read this to know that Alabama and New York have passed vastly different gun legislation. Your friend may be able to possess a gun in Wyoming, but not on a Pennsylvania hunt. While there are differences among the states, some level of uniformity took place in 2010 when the Supreme Court of the United States finally held that the Constitution grants individuals a right to possess a firearm. Since then, some cities and states have had their gun laws deemed unconstitutional by federal courts.
Federal Gun Laws
Federal law (and Georgia law) prohibit convicted felons from possessing firearms. What many people are surprised to learn is that federal law also prohibits people who have been convicted of family violence offenses, even misdemeanors, from possessing a firearm. So, loaning your shotgun to your neighbor down the street who you saw in court the other day should give you pause. Possession of firearms by convicted felons are one of the more common criminal prosecutions today.
It’s also illegal to ship a firearm out of state without a license. Certain types of firearms, such as true military grade weapons, are either banned or tightly regulated. As with all laws, gun laws seem to be endless.
So, in Georgia, when loaning your gun to someone, keep two things in mind:
1. Common Sense – You don’t have to request a criminal background check or conduct an investigation on your friend. You just really need to know him. Remember that you cannot purchase firearms for others (straw purchases), should not possess, sell, or give a firearm away that you bought for $50 from “some guy” when it is worth $1000, or let anyone borrow your gun who may loan it to someone else.
2. Know Your State Law – Plenty of websites offer nutshell versions of each state’s gun laws. But, the law in Georgia is contained in the Official Code. If you don’t want to sit back and read law books, you can find an accurate information at www.usconcealedonline.com, www.nra.org, and www.georgiacarry.org. While these organizations are politically active and strongly support our rights under the 2nd Amendment, they also provide accurate objective information on gun laws.
While I am sure there are other websites that provide quality gun law content, there are also a lot of incorrect or misleading websites that should be avoided. It is important to know the law of your state and others states you travel through; particularly if you have a license to carry a concealed weapon.
The overwhelming majority of gun owners are responsible law-abiding citizens. Responsibility and safety must be on the mind of the gun owner always.
Part of being safe and responsible is using your intuition and knowledge before handing over that hunting rifle to Mark to use for the weekend.