The Washington Examiner recently covered an article where the House voted in favor of restoring gun rights to non-violent felons.
“America is a land of second chances. One mistake should not define your future,” Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck said. The House agreed on a voice vote to his amendment to the Justice appropriations bill.
In the meantime, the federal law is explicit on who is allowed to possess firearms. According to 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1):
(g) It shall be unlawful for any person—
(1) who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
That section of federal law outright precludes any felon from keeping, possessing a manufactured firearm.
There’s an additional catch found later on: other people can’t knowingly provide firearms to felons. So, if you wanted to go to the shooting range and wanted to bring along a buddy with a prior felony conviction — that’s off the table.
18 U.S.C. § 922(h):
(h) It shall be unlawful for any individual, who to that individual’s knowledge and while being employed for any person described in any paragraph of subsection (g) of this section, in the course of such employment—
(1) to receive, possess, or transport any firearm or ammunition in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce; or
(2) to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
Breaking It Down By The Situation
Q: Can a felon travel in the same vehicle as you if you’re armed with a concealed carry firearm?
A: Yes. So long as you are a legal concealed carrier, there’s nothing barring that from happening so long as the felon does not possess the gun at any time. The best way to ensure this is to keep your firearm in your IWB holster unless you intend to use it.
Q: Can I invite a felon into my home if I have firearms inside?
A: Yes. You may invite a felon into your home so long as you do not knowingly or unknowingly allow him to possess those firearms at any time.
Q: Can I have a convicted felon as a roommate if I have guns in the house?
A: Depends on the state. MOST states prohibit a known convicted felon of having any reasonable access to the firearms within a house. States such as Nebraska generally see it as an “ability to access” issue. If the guns are locked in a safe where the felon does not know the combination and has no access to them — it’s okay. For other states, such as California, they may be charged with illegal possession of firearms. Georgia — arguably the most liberal in its interpretations of the 2nd Amendment — is extremely hard on former felons and, if law enforcement discovers the felon is living in a domicile with guns, will charge him for the possession of those guns. The overall consensus is — check with your state law and when in doubt, the answer is no. You are more likely to jeopardize that felon’s good-standing with the law than they are to jeopardize yours.
Q: Where do I check to see if my state allows felons to live in the same domicile as my guns?
A: Your state statutes will decide, ultimately, what constitutes that felon’s possession of firearms. A felon, in almost all cases, cannot have reasonable access to or possession of firearms at any time.
Q: My brother is a convicted felon and he wants me to purchase a handgun on his behalf. Is that legal?
A: Absolutely not. It is illegal to purchase a firearm with the intention to transfer it to a known felon.
Q: My roommate just got a restraining order placed against him. While it’s not considered a felony, can he still live in the same domicile?
A: State ruling will be required on this one. Federal law prohibits a person with a restraining order to have possession of a firearm. A restraining order and misdemeanor domestic assault charges are all on the same par as felony offenses when it comes to the possession of firearms. You should consult with an attorney versed in your state’s laws.
Q: My spouse/significant other was recently placed under indictment for a felony offense. What do I do with my firearms?
A: You need to consult an attorney to determine the best course of action. People under indictment for a crime are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. However, that indictment is a bar against purchasing or possessing a firearm. Thus, the considerations that would take place for “reasonable ability to possess” may come up depending upon which state you reside.
Q: My girlfriend is a convicted felon. Can she sleep over?
A: State law will dictate what is considered “illegal possession” and as we’ve already pointed out, being in the house with accessible firearms may constitute that depending on the state you’re in. Be safe and lock up your guns.
Do you find this sort of Q&A style helpful when discussing complicated stuff like federal and state law? If you found this helpful, tell us in the comments section. If you have any questions you’d like us to examine — also put them down in the comments section.
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Disclaimer: It is your responsibility to understand the laws in your area, and what you can and cannot legally do. It is also your responsibility to use your best judgement, given the situation that you may find yourself in. In no way should this information be viewed as legal advice. When in doubt, consult a lawyer for any clarification that you may require. Simply put, use your best judgement and always abide by the law.