Please consider getting in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area. To find help in your state, please click on the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.
Guns and Criminal Convictions
back to topIf the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony, can s/he keep or buy a gun?
No. Under Federal law, if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or any felony, s/he cannot have or buy a gun.* If you're not sure if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, see What crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors?
In addition, Idaho state law also makes it illegal for the following criminals to get a concealed weapons license:
- Anyone who is formally charged with felony (even if not yet convicted) or anyone who is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal or sentencing for a crime which would disqualify him/her from obtaining a concealed weapon license;
- Anyone who is a fugitive from justice;
- Anyone who was found guilty of (or received a withheld judgment or suspended sentence for) one or more misdemeanor crimes of violence (unless three years have passed since the guilty verdict);
- Anyone who is currently suffering from or has been adjudicated (by a court) as:
- Lacking the mental capacity to stand trial because s/he lacks the capacity to understand the proceedings against him/her or to assist in his/her own defense;
- Mentally ill (and requiring care and treatment at a facility or through outpatient treatment);
- Gravely disabled (as the result of mental illness);
- An incapacitated person (lacking sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions regarding his/her own care, property or financial affairs); or
- Anyone who has had entry of a withheld judgment for a criminal offense which would disqualify him from obtaining a concealed weapon license;** or
- Anyone convicted of a felony***
* 18 USC §922(g)(9)
** ID Code § 18-3302(1)
*** ID Code § 18-3316(1)
back to topHow can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony?
Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access. If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.
Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.
To read more about the NICS, please see the question, What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?
back to topWhat crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors?
Here are the steps you can take to figure out if the abuser was convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor:
Step 1: You first need to know if the abuser was convicted of a misdemeanor crime either in state court or in federal court.* A misdemeanor may have different definitions in each state but basically, it is a lesser crime than a felony. If you are unsure if the abuser was convicted of a misdemeanor, you can call the district attorney or prosecutor who handled the criminal case and ask him/her or go to the local criminal courthouse and try to do a search of his convictions.
Step 2: The next step is that you need to figure out if the crime involved either the use or attempted use of physical violence or force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon.* Again, if you are unsure, you might want to call the prosecutor who handled the case.
Step 3: The abuser must be either:
- your current or former spouse;
- your parent or guardian;
- a person who you have a child in common with;
- a person who is like a spouse, parent or guardian to you (whether or not you live/d with him/her). For example, this might be a long-term boyfriend or someone you share an intimate, personal relationship with.*
If all three of these steps apply to your situation, it is likely that the abuser was convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.
The crime may not have to specifically mention "domestic violence" in order for it to be considered a domestic violence misdemeanor, and for the federal firearm law to apply.** The relationship that the victim has with the offender could determine whether or not the misdemeanor is a "domestic violence misdemeanor." For example: If Bob is convicted of a misdemeanor assault against his wife, it is illegal for him to buy or have a gun. If Bob is convicted of a misdemeanor assault against his neighbor, he may still be able to have or buy a gun.
: Idaho is one of 10 states in which there are some misdemeanors that will not qualify as domestic violence misdemeanors, even if they seem to meet all of the requirements explained above.*** For more information about this complex topic, you can email us
, call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit at 1-800-903-0111
x 2 or talk to a lawyer who is familiar with gun laws and domestic violence – see our ID Finding a Lawyer
* 18 USC 921(a)(33)(A); see Buster v. United States
, 447 F.3d 1130 (8th Cir. 2006) for discussion of defining "as a spouse."
** See United States v. Hayes
, 555 U.S. 415, 129 S.Ct. 1079 (2009)
*** Although federal law prohibits owning or buying a gun if the abuser is convicted of a “domestic violence misdemeanor,” Idaho is bound by current case law, which holds that misdemeanors that involve the "reckless use of force" will not meet the federal definition of domestic violence misdemeanors. See United States v. Nobriga
, 474 F.3d 561, 564 (9th Cir. 2006).
back to topWhat is the definition of a felony?
A felony under federal law is a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year.* Under ID state law, a felony is any crime that can be punished by death or by imprisonment in a state prison.**
* 18 USC 3559
** ID Code § 18-111
back to topIf a law enforcement officer is convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, can s/he have or buy a gun?
No. Law enforcement officers and other government officials who have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony cannot have or buy guns for any purpose, including their official duties, according to federal law.*
* 18 USC 925(a)(1)
back to top