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Convicted Felons and Handgun Ownership

There are a number of laws in place that bar an individual that has been convicted of a felony from owning or possessing "any firearm or ammunition." A felony is a crime with conviction that is eligible for a period of incarceration exceeding one year. When a person is convicted of a felony, he or she is unable to possess any firearm in any location by federal law. If a felon is found in possession of a firearm, the federal statutes recommend the punishment of incarceration for up to 10 years.

In addition to the main law against a felon owning or possessing a gun, there are a number of other statutes that have been written by the federal government that impose ownership restrictions. As an example, an individual who has been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic battery has his or her gun rights restricted. An individual who is currently the person for whom an order of protection has been issued also may not possess a weapon. While these statutes are currently legal, the 2008 Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller has cast a pall of uncertainty over all gun laws.

The statute that specifically bars convicted felons from owning a handgun or possessing a gun in general is 18 USC 921. This statute, like all statutes, is not a complete bar to gun ownership and comes with a number of exceptions to the general rule of "no guns for felons." The biggest exception to the rule is that individuals who have had their gun rights restored by their state are again allowed or able to own and to possess firearms. The state that restores the gun rights must be the same state that took away the rights through a felony conviction and incarceration in the first place. This means that a person convicted of a felony in Nevada is unable to apply to California to have his or her gun rights reinstated.

In addition to a state's rights to reinstate an individual's gun ownership rights, there are a couple of other exceptions in the statute. If a person is pardoned by the state for a wrongful conviction or some other reason, he or she no longer counts as a felon in the eyes of the gun ownership laws. Expunction, laying a conviction aside, and pardon generally remove an individual from the jurisdiction of the statute unless these things were qualified. The state can pardon a person for his or her crimes but leave in place the restriction on gun rights.

The Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers of Palmer & Associates understand the importance of firearms in today's society and also recognize the grave threat to personal liberties that result in a conviction. As such, they do everything in their power to ensure that their clients' liberties are not infringed.

Joseph Devine