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Former Assistant District Attorney
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney

Who cannot own or possess a gun under federal law?

by | Feb 11, 2020 | Federal Crimes

One of the repercussions of a felony conviction is that you may not be able to own a firearm. The federal government has a list of categories for crimes that make you ineligible to own or possess a firearm. If you are in one of the categories and you violate the law by having a firearm in your possession, you could face serious penalties, which do include prison time. 

The FBI explains that, in general, conviction for any crime that has a possible punishment of at least one year in prison exclude you from being able to own a gun. This applies even if a court has not yet convicted you of the crime. Being under indictment for a crime with at least a one-year potential prison term removes your rights. 

Specific types of crime regardless of the potential punishment also could remove your firearm rights. These include crimes of a violent nature, domestic violence and any crime using physical force. Some drug convictions will also disqualify you if the court believes the crime and your criminal record show a pattern of drug abuse and addiction. 

Sometimes, you may be excluded from firearm possession even if you did not commit a crime. For example, if you renounce your U.S. citizenship, you cannot own a firearm. In addition, undocumented immigrants also cannot possess a gun. A dishonorable discharge from the military also strips you of your gun rights. Finally, if a court finds you are mentally unstable or have some other mental illness that makes you unable to handle your own affairs, then you will lose your gun rights.