3. Handgun Possession by Minors
It is illegal for a minor to possess a handgun, with certain exceptions. It is illegal for an adult to transfer a handgun to a minor:
18 U.S.C. 922(x):
"(x)(1) It shall be unlawful for a person to sell, deliver, or otherwise transfer to a person who the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe is a juvenile...
(A) a handgun;...
(2) It shall be unlawful for any person who is a juvenile to knowingly possess...
(A) a handgun;..."
There are some exceptions allowing juveniles to possess handguns while ranching or farming, or engaged in lawful target shooting or hunting. But even then, current federal law demands that the juvenile have prior written permission from her parents, and must carry that permission at all times with her while in possession of the handgun.
It would be a mistake to think that teenagers helping on their parents' ranches and farms are actually complying with this silly statute. On the ranch, they do not carry around prior written permission. Off the ranch, they may carry a handgun in their pickup truck for protection while driving on isolated rural roads at night, as people in their family have for many generations. It is doubtful that most farmers and ranchers even know of the federal statute--or have much interest in studying it.
For a lot of people, federal gun laws have become like the Internal Revenue Code: it exists, but the populace dislikes it, evades it, and does not want to waste energy trying to understand it. The Tax Code and the gun laws and regulations are frustrating, arcane laws which are genuinely understood by only a small group of specialists. We have seen how the citizenry feels about the Tax Code and the IRS. It would be naïve in the extreme to believe that firearms owners do not have the same opinions of the gun laws and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
Current proposals in Congress would make the juvenile gun ban even worse. Senate Bill 254 (which is currently in a conference committee), would a mandatory one year minimum sentence on any adult who transfers a handgun to a juvenile, regardless of the circumstances. A father who gives a family heirloom in a locked glass case to a son on the sons seventeenth birthday would spend a mandatory year in prison. Mandatory sentences may make good sound bites, but they are cruel and thoughtless when applied in the real world.
Senate Bill 254 would also extend the juvenile handgun ban to possession of so-called "assault weapons" and to ammunition clips holding more than 10 rounds. Magazines holding more than 10 rounds for rifles or handguns are commonly used for target shooting, for predator control, for self-defense, and for other lawful and enjoyable purposes, such as plinking at tin cans. If a 17-year-old can be trusted with a rifle and a 10-round magazine, it does not make sense to turn him and his parents into criminals just for using a 15 round magazine instead of a 10 round magazine.
As for "semiautomatic assault weapons," the very name is an oxymoron. One semiautomatic rifle (e.g., a Marlin Camp Carbine) functions just like any other (e.g., a Colt AR-15A2). The federal "assault weapon" ban applies to some but not all semiautomatics, and classifies guns on the basis of petty cosmetic characteristics--such as whether the gun has a bayonet lug, or whether the magazine protrudes "conspicuously" from the rest of the gun. So-called "assault weapons" do not fire faster, or fire larger bullets, than other firearms. There is no reasonable basis for sending parents and children to prison because a childs lawfully-used rifle has a bayonet lug or some other cosmetically incorrect feature.
This crap is why the Founders didn't give the FedGov this kind of power. They knew that they'd wrtie assinine crap just like this. That the Feds are doing it anyway is a breach of "contract".