Firearm offenses can be either misdemeanors or felonies. The law distinguishes between firearms offenses in which the gun is an essential element in the crime and offenses whereby the firearm is an addition to the crime. Carrying a concealed firearm is an example of a crime in which the gun is an essential part of the crime. If you carry a concealed firearm in any of the 19 states where this is not permitted, you may be found guilty of a misdemeanor offense. A crime committed using a firearm, when the firearm is an addition to the crime, is always treated as a more serious offense than if no firearm was used. Assault, for example, is usually charged as a misdemeanor offense, while assault with a firearm is a felony. Many states require a mandatory three-year prison sentence for any felony committed with the aid of a firearm. In such cases, the prisoner has no opportunity for parole until the minimum three-year sentence has been completed. Because of the increase in gun-related crimes in recent years, many states have now imposed even stricter laws and tougher punishments for any felony in which the use of a firearm is involved. If you're accused of a gun-related offense, contact an attorney.