Firearms Prohibited Persons: Who is Prohibited From Possessing a Firearm?
In 2008, the United States Supreme Court silenced the debate over the meaning of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with its ruling on District of Columbi a v. Heller, thus upholding the right of people to keep and possess firearms. The decision included an acknowledgment of the right of the states and the federal government to impose reasonable restrictions on gun ownership as long as the regulations do not amount to an outright ban.
Persons Prohibited from Owning Guns
The federal Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits certain people from possessing guns or ammunition. The federal ban includes the following categories:
- Illegal aliens
- Uses of illegal drugs
- Persons institutionalized in a mental hospital or facility
- Convicted felons
- Individuals convicted of domestic violence charges
The ban on gun ownership by convicted felons also applies to someone who is charged with a felony under an indictment. Until the charges are dismissed or a trial ends with an acquittal, the person cannot own or possess a gun.
The domestic violence conviction ban has also been interpreted by the Supreme Court to include those individuals convicted of using physical force against a domestic partner or threatening the partner with a deadly weapon. This means that the term “domestic violence” as used in the 1968 federal statute includes charges other than those specifically designated as domestic violence.
The only recourse for a person falling into one of the banned categories under the Gun Control Act of 1968 is to seek an exception from the United States Department of Justice. A person who falls into one of the banned categories should also speak with an attorney to learn what restrictions exist under the state and local laws of the person’s residence.
Federal Rules for Buying a Gun
Ownership of guns and ammunition comes under federal, state and local laws. Eligibility to own a gun under federal law does not automatically mean a person’s home state, city or county will issue a permit. Generally, ownership of a gun requires that a person be:
- At least 18 years of age or older for a rifle and shotgun
- At least 21 years of age to purchase a handgun
Only a dealer holding a federal gun dealer’s license can sell a gun. Federal regulations require a gun dealer to perform a background check through an FBI database before delivering a gun to a buyer.
Antique gun collectors are exempt from most of the federal rules that pertain to owners of other types of guns. An antique firearm is one manufactured prior to 1898. As with other rules pertaining to gun ownership, state and local laws may differ as to exemptions for antique weapons, so it is probably best to speak to an attorney who is familiar with gun regulations before making a purchase.
To find out if you are eligible to purchase or own a firearm, speak to Houston lawyer Rand Mintzer at 713-862-8880.