Can You Own or Have a Gun if You Have a Criminal Record?

Can You Own or Have a Gun if You Have a Criminal Record?

If you have a criminal record, you may still be able to own or have a gun. However, your ability to do so will go away as a result of a felony conviction. The government could take it away for some misdemeanor convictions as well. But, once you complete your sentence, get an expungement or get a pardon, you still may be able to own or have a gun. That’s true even if you have a criminal record.

Can you own or have a gun if you have a criminal record?

No. In almost all cases, you can’t own or have a gun if you get convicted of a felony. Under federal law, people convicted of a crime with a punishment of more than one year in prison cannot own or have a firearm. This law comes from the Gun Control Act of 1968. It keeps anyone convicted of a felony in either state or federal court from owning or possessing a gun.

But his does not mean that you lose your right to own or have a gun forever. In some cases, you might be able to restore your gun rights after you complete your sentence. In others, you might be able to restore your rights if a court expunges your record or you get a pardon. Whether you can restore your gun rights and how you do so depends on your convictions and where you live.

Can you restore your right to own or have a gun with a criminal record?

Sometimes. If you aren’t allowed to own or have a gun because of a criminal conviction, you might want to get your gun rights back. In most states, you can apply for permission to own or have a gun. This usually happens after completing your sentence. But, if you restore your state gun rights, that doesn’t mean you have restored your federal gun rights.

Under federal law, you can apply to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms. This is how you can try to restore your federal gun rights. If the Bureau denies your application, you can then file a lawsuit in federal court.

Lately, however, the government has not been considering applications to restore gun rights. Because the Bureau is not reviewing applications, it is not denying them either. This keeps applicants from being able to go to federal court to get their rights restored.

For this reason, attorneys often suggest that pardons or expungements are best. Whether you can expunge your record or get a pardon depends on many circumstances as well.

If you have a felony on your criminal record, you probably can't own a gun.
Image courtesy of Amir Hosseini via Unsplash.

Can you lose your gun rights because of a misdemeanor conviction?

Yes. You will likely lose your ability to own or posses a gun if you get convicted of a felony. But you could lose that ability for other conditions as well. This includes some misdemeanors. The most common example of such a misdemeanor is domestic violence. Many state laws stop you from owning or having a gun after a domestic violence conviction.

You can also lose your ability to own or have a gun even if you aren’t convicted of a crime. For example, if you go to a mental institution, officials may suspend your gun rights. Some states also have “red flag” laws. These laws allow the government to take your gun rights if they consider you a danger to yourself or others.

The Takeaway:

You generally lose the right to own or have a gun when you get convicted of a felony and some misdemeanors. But you don’t even need to have a conviction for the government to take your abhaveo own or have a gun away. Getting your gun rights restored is a complicated process and depends on what state you live in. Doing so under federal law is especially hard in light of recent legal developments.

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