One of the issues that constantly comes up for people is whether or not they are “legally” able to obtain a firearm – generally NO if they have ever been convicted of a felony or the misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
Do you know the answer? It isn’t as simple as you might think…This is a sensitive subject and one where the answer may vary from state to state since these specific laws also interact with federal law.
For example, the recent case in Chicago where U.S. District Judge, Samuel Der-Yeghiayan ruled in favor of a Chicago man who challenged a section of the city’s gun law. The man was denied a gun permit because of a misdemeanor conviction. The complete story is written up in the Chicago Sun-Times, “Judge strikes down part of Chicago gun law as unconstitutional.” As the story goes, Shawn Gowder was arguing his right to keep and bear arms under the 2nd Amendment. He had been convicted many years ago of the unlawful use of a firearm – based on possession of a firearm rather than some other issue. He was initially charged with a felony, but it was ultimately reduced to a misdemeanor.
Surprisingly, the judge considered the denial an injustice and ruled in favor of Shawn. Now, this is a very interesting ruling for many reasons, but there is a hidden warning here that many people don’t think about when purchasing a firearm. When you check the box about convictions on a Form 4473 at the gun shop, you are asked about whether or not you were ever convicted of a felony. Some remember and some don’t – for example, something that happened when you were a kid, that your parents took care of… back when kids were often charged as adults! Some might have had a felony but thought it was resolved, or that it was not longer on their record. Still others think they were charged with a misdemeanor… and get arude awakening when it turns out to be a felony and they are then subject to new charges, both state and federal.
Any of these situations have the potential of getting you into a lot of trouble. If you inadvertently “lie” in filling out Form 4473, or on a Form 4 for an NFA firearm, or any other similar form, there isn’t much forgiveness out there. You really could be charged with a felony. It is a serious “box” on these forms and not one to be taken lightly.
We gun owners are held accountable for what we do and say. We must be surgically correct and totally truthful when filling out gun transfer forms that ask this question. If you are in doubt as to your personal situation, see an attorney who knows gun law and have him or her help you figure it out. It might just be the best money you ever spent on your gun hobby… it can keep you from wearing orange (or pink if you are near Sheriff Joe in Arizona) for the next few years…