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Domestic Violence and Firearm Laws

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What Does the Law Say About Domestic Violence and Possession of Firearms?

Under several different federal laws, it’s illegal for persons convicted of domestic violence to possess a firearm.  Examples of such laws are the Gun Control Act of 1994 and the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.  Laws are very broad concerning this subject- the prohibition extends also to domestic violence-related incidents as well. 

Laws also prohibit such persons from transporting, shipping, or receiving both firearms and possession.  Under certain circumstances, these rules also apply to military and law enforcement personnel, even while on duty.  It has even led to the discharge of military personnel, since they are not able to use firearms after the conviction.  

These laws are sometimes known collectively as the “Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban”.  

Does This Apply to Restraining Orders?

Yes- the restrictions on firearms also apply to persons who have become subject to a court restraining order, if the order prohibits the harassment, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or their child. 

The laws also make it illegal for anyone to transfer firearms to a person subject to a domestic violence restraining order.  This means that close friends or relatives, or persons who live with a convicted domestic violence offender, will be more closely monitored when attempting to purchase firearms.

Is the Firearm Prohibition Applicable To Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Offenders?

Yes- as of 1996, it is also illegal for persons to possess a firearm if convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.  This prohibition will apply even if the conviction happened before 1996. 
On the other hand, if an offender is able to have a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction expunged from their record, the ban on firearms will be lifted from them also.  Expungement may be more difficult to obtain for felony domestic violence convictions. 

What are the Penalties for Possessing a Firearm After a Domestic Violence Conviction?

Violating state or federal gun control laws can lead to further criminal penalties.  In most cases, possessing a firearm with a record of domestic violence will lead to a felony charge, punishable by a prison sentence and/or criminal fines.  This is one of the few instances where a previous misdemeanor charge could potentially lead to a felony charge in the future. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Issues With Domestic Violence and Possession of Firearms?

Domestic violence charges are treated very seriously and can result in far-reaching consequences.  If you need assistance with domestic violence charges, you should contact a lawyer immediately for advice.  You may need the assistance of an attorney even after court proceedings, since the charges may affect your rights in the long run. 

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 07-19-2016 10:35 AM PDT

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